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Open discussions on an international legal framework for the digital economy

So we will open discussions with the leading tech companies and other like-minded democracies about the global rules of the digital economy, to develop an international legal framework that we have for so long benefited from in other areas like banking and trade.

Our Verdict

The digital economy refers to businesses whose enterprise is based on digital and online technology. Google, Amazon and Facebook are examples of tech giants. The digital economy is growing rapidly, and many countries have recognised the need to regulate the sector to prevent tax loopholes and to ensure the rights and safety of consumers. This policy is a promise to “open discussions” (as in just ‘have’ discussions, not ‘lead’ them) around developing an international legal framework.

The government published the Corporate tax and the digital economy: position paper in November 2017 and an update in March 2018. These state the government’s aim to ensure that digital businesses pay tax in the countries from which they gain revenue. In October 2019, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of which the UK is a member, began consulting on a proposal which supports this aim and seeks to take forward international negotiations on the matter.

The government also released the Online Harms White Paper in April 2019 which describes action to work internationally to address online safety with major tech companies (through the UK Council for Internet Safety), with governments in the US and Canada (through Project Arachnid), and with the EU (with proposed legislation on terrorism, sharing and false information). The UK government was also instrumental in establishing the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (see ‘Related Policies’ below).

Based on the evidence above, it’s fair to say the government has had “discussions with leading tech companies” and “like-minded democracies” regarding the development of international regulation for the digital economy. There’s obviously lots of work in progress in this area, but this policy was a promise to “open discussions” so we are marking it as ‘done’.

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