UK G7 Presidency Statement: Digital and Tech-30/11/2021

Digital technology is at the heart of building back better from coronavirus, playing a vital role in improving internet safety and transforming the economy.

The G7 and invited guests met on 30 November under the chairmanship of the United Kingdom to recognise progress made against the objectives set out in the Digital and Technology Ministerial Declaration of 28 April 2021. 

The G7 Digital and Technology Ministers’ Declaration identified six priority interventions to help ensure that our collective recovery from COVID-19 builds back a better, more productive, and resilient global economy, with digital technology at its heart. We welcome the significant progress achieved together through open and constructive collaboration from G7 members and partners as the UK G7 Presidency comes to an end.

G7 members and partners met to share information on respective approaches and actions to assure long-term security, reliability and resilience in telecommunications infrastructure, including 5G and future communication technologies. The UK Presidency recommends this exchange is continued to improve cooperation and to deliver inclusive economic growth.

Secondly, under the G7 Framework for Collaboration on Digital Technical Standards, the G7 members and partners established and progressed the Digital Technical Standards Points of Contact Group to support the development of digital technical standards which continue to be underpinned by transparency, openness of process, constructive stakeholder participation and a consensus-based approach. G7 members and partners have identified standards of shared interest and found ways of working to strengthen cooperation and information sharing which will support inclusive approaches for the development of digital technical standards that benefit all.

Thirdly, to facilitate data free flow with trust and drive benefits for people, businesses and economies, G7 members and partners have increased cooperation through the ‘G7 Roadmap for Cooperation on Data Free Flow with Trust’ (DFFT) by hosting a series of G7 DFFT events in collaboration with stakeholders, and partners including the OECD. Amongst others, these included:

  • A meeting of G7 Data Protection Authorities discussed a number of key issues to share expertise and experience and explored possible closer cross-regulatory cooperation in specific areas, such as online tracking, artificial intelligence, pandemic-driven tech innovation and government access to data.
  • A business roundtable identified the impacts of data localisation measures on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and alternative policy responses which could be taken to mitigate such measures. This included a discussion on the impacts that localisation can have on MSMEs’ growth, and started a dialogue on alternative interventions to localisation policies.
  • A series of G7 workshops to identify priority sectors where enabling data sharing holds particular value and novel data sharing solutions could empower consumers, drive competition, support Net Zero targets, and improve emergency resilience and response in a post-COVID-19 world. 

To complement the important work in existing fora towards improving Internet safety, G7 members and partners convened a Safety Tech Summit, building on the 2021 G7 Internet Safety Principles. The Summit brought together a multi-stakeholder Safety Tech community to showcase how technology could be used in a positive way to create safer online communities. G7 members and partners discussed how to better share research and best practice for the development and adoption of safety technology supporting innovation that drives digital growth. These efforts are intended to support international cooperation to improve internet safety while promoting and protecting the exercise of all human rights online. This would include addressing illegal and harmful content which undermines democratic values, risks the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable user groups, reduces online participation and diminishes trust in the online environment. 

To encourage competition in digital markets; drive innovation across the global economy; enhance consumer choice; and allow the sectors that rely on the digital economy to flourish, G7 member and partner governments and national competition authorities held a series of discussions on deepening cooperation on digital competition. To facilitate engagement and future coordination, national competition authorities published a compendium of approaches to tackling competition issues in digital markets and identified common policy priorities across the G7 enforcement agencies. G7 policymakers also met to discuss shared policy objectives for digital markets.

Lastly, under the Framework for G7 collaboration for greater adoption of electronic transferable records, G7 members and partners decided to identify the legal and regulatory barriers which prevent the use of electronic transferable records by business to make economic savings and to generate efficiencies in time, security, data processing. G7 members and partners recognised the impact this work has on strengthening the resilience of the global economic system and its crucial role in trade recovery across the G7. From June to October, the G7 undertook a scoping exercise in respect of their domestic frameworks. In light of the scoping exercise and a meeting of G7 experts on 15 November 2021, the UK Presidency has proposed working towards a Roadmap for Reform with industry stakeholders and representatives from relevant UN bodies.

To support our efforts and further explore the transformative benefits technology will bring to society, the UK hosted the Future Tech Forum on 29-30 November 2021 at the London Science Museum. The Forum convened governments, industry, civil society and academia to discuss the immense opportunities that digital technologies can offer towards tackling global challenges across climate, health, building public trust in data, the future of the Internet and digital governance. 

The Forum’s particular focus was on the public policy questions that governments would need to address to ensure the next generation of technological evolution delivers in the public interest and supports open societies in the digital and data-driven age.

We look forward to continuing to build on the success of the UK G7 Presidency next year when we meet again under the German 2022 Presidency, in line with our shared democratic values.

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