Monday 18 July 2022
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
AI: Pro-Innovation Approach to Regulation
The Government are today publishing a paper setting out their emerging pro-innovation approach to regulating artificial intelligence. The UK can provide clarity and confidence to our AI ecosystem as well as ensuring the public and consumers are protected.
At the heart of our approach is a steadfast commitment to ensuring the UK is a place where AI companies can innovate, grow, and flourish. In areas from transport to healthcare, our AI ecosystem is driving forward new research, scientific breakthroughs, and growth across the nation. This policy paper seeks to shape the transformational effects of this critical technology: to unleash growth and innovation while safeguarding our fundamental values and keeping people safe.
The success of our AI sector is in no small part due to the UK’s reputation for high-quality regulation and the rule of law. However, as AI continues to develop, a transparent, clear, and coherent regulatory regime must develop with it. Government believe that a pro-innovation approach is needed to create clarity for businesses and investors, while also taking proportionate steps to address existing risks posed by AI and standing prepared to identify and mitigate new risks as they emerge.
This policy paper sets out the building blocks of a regulatory framework that is coherent but flexible and can apply to AI’s vast range of uses across different industries. It will support our regulators in addressing new challenges in a way that is proportionate, supports innovation and drives growth. This pro-innovation, pro-growth ethos will continue to inform policy development as we develop and refine the approach set out in this paper.
It is essential that we get this approach right, and I look forward to hearing views from the House on our proposals. We will also be seeking the views of AI experts across business, civil society, academia and beyond, as we work towards the publication of a full AI governance White Paper later in the year.
A copy of the paper will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Loot Boxes in Video Games
The Government response to the call for evidence on loot boxes in video games has been published on www.gov.uk.
The Government are committed to ensuring that the UK is one of the safest places to be online, and this includes video games. We want all players, especially children and vulnerable people, to have the tools and information they need to enjoy games safely.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a call for evidence on loot boxes in video games in September 2020, in light of concerns about the potential for loot boxes to cause harm.
The call for evidence received over 32,000 responses to a player survey, and 50 submissions from organisations and individuals. We are thankful to the organisations and individuals, including players and parents, who responded to the call for evidence. In addition, the Government commissioned an independent rapid evidence assessment of academic literature on loot boxes, which was conducted by InGAME in 2021.
The Government response sets out findings from the call for evidence. The call for evidence identified a range of potential harms associated with the purchase of loot boxes, though a causal relationship is yet to be evidenced. This includes harms which have been associated with gambling, but also a range of other potential mental health, financial and problem gaming related harms. The evidence suggests that the risks of harm are likely to be higher for children.
In response to the findings from the call for evidence, the Government want to see improved protections for children and adults with regards to loot boxes, and better longer term research into the impacts of video games. The Government’s view is that:
purchases of loot boxes should be unavailable to all children and young people unless and until they are enabled by a parent or guardian;
all players, including children, young people and adults, should have access to and be aware of spending controls and transparent information to support safe and responsible gaming; and
better evidence and research, enabled by improved access to data, should be developed on the positive and negative impacts of video games to inform future policy making on loot boxes and video games more broadly.
DCMS will convene a technical working group to pursue enhanced industry-led solutions to mitigate the risk of harms for children and young people and adults from loot boxes in video games. In addition, we will work with academics and other partners to launch a video games research framework.
The Government response have been developed alongside our review of the Gambling Act. We will continue to keep the position set out in the Government response under review, considering any new and emerging evidence on loot boxes and harms, progress made in strengthening industry-led protections, and any specific proposals on how statutory protections could be enhanced. We will not hesitate to consider legislative options if we deem this necessary to protect children and adults.
I will be placing a copy of the Government response to the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses, and this response has been published on www.gov.uk. The rapid evidence assessment of academic literature on loot boxes, conducted by InGAME, has also been published on www.gov.uk.
Data Protection and Digital Information
Today, the Government are introducing the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill in the House of Commons. The Bill is being introduced after the Government published their response to the “Data: A New Direction” consultation on 17 June 2022.
We now have the opportunity to seize the benefits of Brexit and transform the UK’s independent data laws. We have designed these new updates to our data protection framework so it works in our interests, protects our citizens, and unburdens our businesses.
Through this Bill we will realise the opportunities of responsible data use while maintaining the UK’s high data protection standards. The EU does not require countries to have the same rules to grant adequacy, so it is our belief that these reforms are compatible with maintaining a free flow of personal data from the European economic area.
Our Bill will improve people’s lives in many different ways. Firstly, we are increasing fines for nuisance calls and texts that break the rules. Telecoms network providers will also be required to notify the ICO when they have reasonable grounds for believing that unsolicited direct marketing is occurring on their networks.
Reforms to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations will also remove the need for cookie banner pop ups for low risk activities, such as audience measurement, so it’s easier for businesses to use information to improve their services. The Bill will also pave the way for the removal of irritating banners for other types of cookies when browser-based or similar solutions are sufficiently developed.
The Bill will bring some everyday physical processes into the 21st century. It will be easier and more secure to use digital identities, which give people more choice and greater security when they want to prove things about themselves online or via apps instead of with physical documents. We will improve Government data sharing to improve public services for businesses, and the Bill will also update the way births and deaths are registered by clerks, moving from a paper-based system to an electronic register used by officials.
Our reforms to data protection laws will mean that UK scientists are no longer needlessly impeded by overcautious, unclear rules on how they can use people’s personal data. We will simplify the legal requirements around research, which will provide scientists the clarity and confidence they need to get on with life enhancing and life-saving research.
We are reducing the burdens on businesses that have held the UK back from the benefits of greater personal data use before now. By focusing on outcomes not box-ticking, we will unburden businesses from prescriptive requirements and empower them to protect personal data in the most proportionate and appropriate way. Our changes could create around £1 billion in business savings over 10 years.
The Bill will sustain and scale the UK’s approach to supporting international data flows by capitalising on its independent status to strike partnerships with some of the world’s fastest growing economies. Reforms will ensure that the mechanisms to transfer personal data internationally are secure and flexible to help British businesses grow.
The structure and objectives of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will be modernised so that it remains an internationally renowned regulator, including increased investigatory powers to help it keep pace with changing practices. New strategic objectives will have an emphasis on economic growth and innovation, while ensuring the ICO continues to produce high-quality codes of practice, and has the flexibility to allocate its resources appropriately. The ICO will remain operationally independent while enabling the public and parliament to more effectively hold it to account through key performance indicators.
Reforms will also confirm that elected representatives may process general personal data where necessary for the purposes of democratic engagement activities. The intent is to allow MPs, councillors and political parties to undertake the democratic engagement activities they have done for decades—such as opinion surveys of local residents, and targeted letters to constituents—without the unnecessary complexity and confusion of the EU’s general data protection regulation. This builds on measures in the Data Protection Act 2018 which received broad cross-party support at the time.
The Bill will improve the efficiency of data protection for law enforcement and national security partners—encouraging better use of personal data where appropriate to help protect the public. Our proposed reforms create greater consistency between general, law enforcement and national security data processing. They will provide agencies with clarity on their obligations, boosting the confidence of the public on how their data is being used. These changes are vitally important for the work of our law enforcement and national security agencies who process personal data in the public interest, to prevent crime and safeguard national security.
New information standards for IT products and services supplied to the health and adult social care sector will ensure these are interoperable to make it easier for staff to access the information they need to help their patients.
The powers included in the Bill allow Government Departments to establish sector-based smart data schemes with supporting regulation, to ensure consumer and business protection. This is the secure and consented sharing of customer data with authorised third-party providers. These approved providers then use this data to deliver innovative services for the consumer or business, such as automatic bank account switching. This saves time, money and effort for customers who can more easily find and choose better-suited deals.
Health and Social Care
The covid-19 vaccination programme continues to protect the nation against the virus. As of 13 July 2022, over 149 million doses have been administered in the UK, including over 53.6 million first doses, over 50.2 million second doses and over 40 million third primary or booster doses in the UK. This represents uptake of 93.3% for the first dose, 87.4% for the second dose and 69.6% for the third primary and booster doses in the UK. During the spring campaign, data to 10 July shows that over 4 million over-75s received a further dose in England. Up to 10 July, over 85% of those eligible by the end of May had received a spring booster, ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society have recent protection.
On 15 July, Her Majesty’s Government accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation regarding the covid-19 vaccination campaign for autumn 2022. The JCVI’s advice is that a covid-19 booster vaccine should be offered to:
Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults.
Frontline health and social care workers.
All adults aged 50 years and over.
Persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group including pregnant women, as set out in the UK Health Security Agency’s Green Book Chapter 14a—Tables 3 and 4.
Persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression.
Persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the UKHSA’s Green Book Chapter 14a—Table 3.
The final eligible groups are broader than those announced in the JCVI’s interim advice in May. The committee considered the recent epidemiology of the BA.4 and BA.5 waves, as well as the benefits of aligning the covid-19 programme with the flu vaccine rollout, concluding that expanding the offer would provide necessary protection to those at higher risk of severe illness and keep greater numbers of people out of hospital.
All eligible groups are encouraged to take up the vaccine when the time comes, even if they have had a spring booster, to give themselves the best possible protection against severe outcomes of covid-19 this winter.
In addition, the Department of Health and Social Care will once again be offering the free flu vaccine to additional groups. These groups will only be eligible once the most vulnerable, including previously announced pre-school and primary school children, those aged 65 years and over and those in clinical risk groups, have been offered the jab.
The additional groups set to be offered the free flu vaccine in England will be:
All adults aged 50 to 64 years.
Secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9, who will be offered the vaccine in order of school year—starting with the youngest first.
The National Health Service will announce in due course when and how eligible groups will be able to book an appointment for their covid-19 autumn booster, and when people aged 50 to 64 years old who are not in a clinical risk group will be able to get their free flu jab.
Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme: Public Consultation
The Government are today launching a consultation on reforming the clandestine entrant civil penalty scheme—part of the ambitious work to tackle illegal migration we are delivering through our new plan for immigration.
Illegal migration is facilitated by serious organised criminals exploiting people and profiting from human misery. The same criminal gangs and networks are also responsible for other illicit activity ranging from drug and firearms trafficking to modern slavery and serious violent crimes. A significant number of people, who arrive in the UK through concealment in vehicles by tourist and freight transport routes, have had their entry illegally facilitated by organised criminal gangs. Despite extensive work with overseas partners to strengthen our shared borders and enhance our strategic partnerships, this method of entry continues and endangers the lives of those involved. In many cases, this is a result of criminal gangs and opportunistic migrants taking advantage of unsecured or poorly secured vehicles to smuggle people or enter the UK illegally.
For these reasons, the UK operates a scheme to tackle illegal migration called the clandestine entrant civil penalty scheme. The scheme means that when clandestine entrants are found concealed in a vehicle, a penalty of up to £2,000 per entrant can be imposed on any responsible person connected to the vehicle in question, up to a maximum aggregate of £4,000 in total per clandestine entrant. A responsible person is defined as the owner, hirer or driver of the vehicle. The scheme applies to all vehicles, commercial and private, as well as anything that is designed to be towed or carried by a vehicle—such as trailers, caravans, containers etc. In circumstances where the driver is employed by the vehicle owner or hirer, such as an HGV, the employer is also liable for the driver’s penalty. The penalty level has not been changed for nearly 20 years.
During the financial year 2020-2021, there were 3,145 incidents where clandestine entrants were detected concealed in vehicles, despite the covid-19 pandemic causing a lower volume of traffic. This rose to 3,838 incidents during the financial year 2021-2022. The Government are therefore concerned that the scheme is not having enough of an effect, as drivers are not taking the steps required to secure vehicles, and clandestine entrants are continuing to use these routes to enter the UK.
It is for this reason that the Government committed to review and overhaul the scheme as part of its new plan for immigration. A public consultation on the new plan for immigration was held from 24 March to 6 May 2021. The Government then introduced changes to the scheme through the new Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
The changes under the 2022 Act include narrowing the statutory defences available to those who have carried a clandestine entrant. This means that where a clandestine entrant has been carried, it will no longer be a statutory defence to say that an effective system for preventing the carriage of clandestine entrants was in operation, and that person may still be issued with a penalty. However, if the person has complied with regulations to be issued by the Secretary of State, which will require them to take actions to secure their transporter, report unauthorised access and keep records to show they took these steps, this could mean the level of the penalty is reduced.
The 2022 Act also introduces a new civil penalty for failing to adequately secure a goods vehicle, regardless of whether a clandestine entrant has been found. The Secretary of State will also make regulations which set out what is meant by a goods vehicle being adequately secure and the required vehicle security standards that will determine whether liability arises under this new offence. These may include vehicle checks, reporting unauthorised access and retaining records to demonstrate steps taken.
Before any of these regulations can be made under the 2022 Act, the Secretary of State has a statutory duty to consult with such persons as she considers appropriate. The Government have also agreed to consult on the level of penalty for the new offence of failing to adequately secure a goods vehicle, with a view to bringing into operation a new level of penalty: code of practice.
The Secretary of State is now discharging these obligations through this consultation, which is designed to seek the views of all interested parties on these issues and others connected with the scheme. The consultation will run for eight weeks and will close on 12 September 2022.
Alongside the consultation, the Home Office will be running a series of engagement events to explore these issues in more detail. If you would like to join an engagement event, please email:
The closing date to express an interest in joining an engagement date is 19 August 2022.
We welcome your views and look forward to hearing from you.
A copy of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and also made available on www.gov.uk.
Swift, Certain, Tough: New Consequences for Drug Possession
Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of a White Paper, “Swift, Certain, Tough: new consequences for drug possession” and accompanying public consultation, which has been laid before the House (CP 723). It has also been published on gov.uk.
As set out in the 10-year drug strategy, published in December 2021, we are committed to exploring options for tackling so-called recreational drug use. This White Paper does just that and proposes new sanctions to deter people from illicit drug use and change attitudes. Fundamental to this new regime is that drug users face greater consequences than they do today. And while we want consequences to be tough, we also want them to be fair, meaningful, and appropriate.
The White Paper sets out a combination of proposals for legislation, as well as broader areas for reform on which we invite consideration. We propose a new escalatory three tier framework for drug possession offences which will apply to all drug users, except where users have a drug dependence where treatment is the most relevant intervention.
Where appropriate, those caught for a first-time drug possession offence will be placed in tier 1 and issued with a fixed penalty notice. This requires them to either attend a drugs awareness course (paid for by the individual), or, if they do not attend the course, to pay a financial penalty.
For those who do not change their behaviour and are caught for a second time they will progress to tier 2. In this tier, the offender would be offered a caution which would include, where proportionate, a period of mandatory drug testing alongside attendance at a further stage drugs awareness course.
Should an individual be caught for a third time, they move to tier 3 and we expect them to be charged with the relevant offence. To ensure the courts have the right powers to change behaviours of drug offenders, we propose introducing a new civil court order to enable a range of conditions to be imposed, including: (i) exclusion order; (ii) drug tagging; (iii) passport confiscation; or (iv) driving licence disqualification.
Progression through the tiers should always be linear. We would not expect an individual to start with a tier 2 or tier 3 intervention or indeed “jump” from tier 1 to tier 3. The escalatory framework gives individuals the opportunity to understand the harms of illicit drugs better and to reflect on their behaviour and the harm they are doing to themselves and to wider society. Should they nevertheless continue to offend, consequences will escalate.
Drug testing on arrest
Given our focus is on reducing drug demand, we must take any opportunity to reach individuals and provide the right interventions. Therefore, this White Paper also proposes some important changes to drug testing on arrest powers to ensure the police can drug test more individuals than today. Drug testing on arrest is not about further criminalising drug users, but about identifying those who use drugs where their drug use may be a causal factor in their criminal behaviour and intervening to help them to change their behaviour. To achieve this we are therefore proposing to:
1. Expand the types of drugs that can be tested for to include a wider range of class A drugs;
2. Expand the types of drugs that can be tested for to include drugs in other classifications where relevant, and in particular cannabis as the most widely used illicit drug;
3. Expand the number of “trigger offences” that can lead to drug testing on arrest.
The proposed legislative changes will apply to both drug testing on arrest and to drug testing on charge.
Given many of the changes will require primary legislation, we believe the right approach is to publish a consultative White Paper. We will therefore open a formal consultation period on the document today for a period of 12 weeks. I would encourage parliamentary colleagues to review the document and the consultation, and to make relevant organisations in their areas aware. Consultation responses will be thoroughly analysed and taken into consideration before finalising any policy.
This White Paper represents a significant step in reducing overall drug use towards a historic 30-year low and shows we do not shy away from proposing new interventions to do this. Ultimately these sanctions are aiming to change behaviour and reduce demand for drugs. We want people to lead healthier lifestyles and we want them to stop putting money into the pockets of dangerous drug gangs who fuel violence in our communities.
We are utterly steadfast in our determination to grip this problem and, ultimately, turn the tide on illegal drugs.