Event report: CEO Forum – The UK’s changing landscape for tech, the Digital Economy Bill, new Government positions and strategies, and Brexit

Pictfor held a CEO Forum roundtable discussion event in the Houses of Parliament on 7 November 2016. The event explored a range of issues including the UK’s changing landscape, the Digital Economy Bill, new Government positions and strategies and Brexit. Key speakers included:

  • Chair: Andrew Gimson, Author and Journalist
  • Matthew Gould, Director General for Digital and Media (based in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
  • Chi Onwurah MP, Co-Chair of Pictfor
  • Matt Warman MP, Co-Chair of Pictfor

The event was attended by a wide range of MPs, Members of the House of Lords, industry representatives and other stakeholders. Welcoming the speakers and attendees, Matt Warman MP outlined the format of the event. Andrew Gimson, as Chair of the roundtable, then introduced Matthew Gould, the main speaker for the evening.

Newly appointed as Director General for Digital and Media, Matthew outlined his role and some of the challenges and opportunities that he believes the UK faces. He touched on a range of issues including digital infrastructure, digital skills, cyber-security and ensuring that tech innovation works for people.

Chi Onwurah MP, Co-Chair of Pictfor, responded to Matthew’s speech by advocating that there is a need for cultural change and that more needs to be done to address digital literacy and gender balance. She also highlighted the importance of industrial strategy and cyber-security.

 Andrew Gimson then opened the discussion to take comments and questions from others taking part in the roundtable event. Lord Birt welcomed the optimism expressed by some at the event but cautioned that the internet can be a lawless place. The Lord Harris of Haringey highlighted the speed of innovation and that the challenge for government is to keep up. The potential benefits of cyber audits was explored by Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom in his comments.

 Tom Morrison-Bell of techUK spoke about UK’s Digital Strategy and Steven Cox of Fujitsu highlighted issues relating to data. Lord Steel of Aikwood touched on a number of issues including cyber-security and any potential for foreign powers to interfere.

Chris Pateman of the Federation of Communications Services highlighted the importance of SMEs to the UK economy. Lord Craig of Radley followed this by speaking about the importance of digital literacy and issues around online banking. The issue of solutions based vs outcome based regulation was then explored by Lesley Smith of Amazon. Baroness Neville-Jones raised the issue of the privacy debate. Thangam Debbonaire MP then spoke about the issue of narratives and her interest in potential exclusion by gender and age.

Anirban Roy of Arqiva contributed to the wide-ranging debate by touching on automation and his views on the need for better connectivity. Chi Onwurah MP advocated that these topics are social issues and that people need to have a voice in the debate, especially on issues such as data sharing. She also touched on cyber-security. Carla Baker of Symantec also commented on cyber-security, highlighting that the challenge for government and industry is to keep up, as well as highlighting issues around legacy systems and privacy by design.

John Midgley of Amazon touched on the data protection regime. Then Alistair Law of Sky and Julian Ashworth of BT spoke on issues around connectivity, broadband, investment and the universal service obligation.

Closing the event Andrew Gimson thanked the speakers and all those in attendance for contributing to the discussion which covered a broad range of strategic issues.

Click here for the list of those who attended

If you would like further information on this topic or about Pictfor’s programme of events, please contact admin@pictfor.org.uk.


Please note: This document includes the minutes of the meeting. This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in this report are those of the group.

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