Insights G7 countries agree to the G7 Digital and Technology Ministerial Declaration

On 28 April 2021, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the EU agreed to the G7 Digital and Technology Ministerial Declaration. The Declaration sets out six “interventions” to deliver a “trusted, values-driven digital ecosystem”:

  1. promoting secure, resilient and diverse digital, telecoms and ICT infrastructure supply chains: the participants recognise the foundational role that telecoms infrastructure, including 5G and future communication technologies, play and the importance of assuring security and resilience in this critical technology layer; officials will establish expert points of contact to advance long term collaboration, including with industry, civil society, multilateral fora and other relevant stakeholders, and to share best practices;
  2. a framework for G7 collaboration on digital technical standards: to continue delivering an open, interoperable, reliable and secure internet, which is unfragmented, supports freedom, innovation and trust, and empowers people, the ministers endorsed a “Framework for Collaboration” (attached to the Declaration as Annex 1), which sets out areas for G7 and like-minded partners’ collaboration on digital technical standards and offers a pathway for constructive engagement;
  3. a G7 roadmap for cooperation on data free flow with trust: ministers recognised the importance of unlocking the power of data in their economies and societies, while continuing to address challenges related to privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights, and security; they endorsed a “Roadmap for Cooperation on Data Free Flow with Trust” (Annex 2), which sets out their plan for delivering tangible progress on this agenda, building confidence for businesses and individuals to use technology, as well as driving economic and social value;
  4. G7 internet safety principles: ministers noted that, despite some positive steps and technological improvement, harmful content and activity remains widespread online; this undermines democratic values, risks the physical safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable user groups, reduces online participation and diminishes trust in the online environment; they endorsed the “G7 Internet Safety Principles” (Annex 3), which demonstrate support for a set of underpinning principles to guide G7 approaches to improving online safety, and a set of operational principles where consensus exists for specific action;
  5. deepening cooperation on digital competition: to support existing workstreams on enforcement and policy related to digital competition, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority will convene a meeting of G7 competition authorities in 2021 to discuss long term coordination and cooperation to better understand enforcement approaches, market characteristics and policy initiatives related to competition in digital markets; the UK will also host relevant officials in 2021 to discuss the importance of promoting competition through regulatory policies for digital markets, including through further coordination with competition authorities; and
  6. framework for G7 collaboration on electronic transferable records: enabling businesses to use electronic transferable records will generate efficiencies and economic savings, which will strengthen the resilience of a global economic system and play a crucial role in trade recovery across the G7; ministers endorsed a “Framework for G7 collaboration on Electronic Transferable Records” (Annex 4), through which a dialogue will be initiated between experts to work to achieve compatible domestic reforms, and provide collective support to other international initiatives seeking to facilitate and enable the adoption of electronic transferable records.

Finally, ministers recommended that leaders consider these important topics at the Cornwall G7 summit in June 2021 and welcomed the UK’s hosting of the “Future Tech Forum” in September 2021. To access the Declaration, click here. To read the Government’s press releases, click here and here.

The Digital Regulatory Cooperation Forum (DRCF) has submitted its response to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the future of the digital regulatory landscape and how to achieve coherence in regulatory approaches across digital services. The response sits alongside the 2021-22 DRCF workplan, published in March 2021, which sets out DRCF’s immediate plan for greater cooperation.