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Navigating the UK's Digital Regulation Landscape: Where are we headed under Labour?

18 June 2024

The success of the UK’s digital sector and regulatory regime is also inextricably linked to the wider world - ideas, talent, research and investment flow across borders, and our ability to invent and market innovative technology is critical.

According to the mission statement of Labour Digital (the home of digital and technology policy for Labour Party members and supporters), the party “believe[s] that technology holds the answer to fixing our unproductive economy, to solving global challenges like climate change and to transforming our public services to become more efficient for tax payers and more effective for users. But it’s also clear that, unregulated, technology can have negative or unintended consequences”.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that the Labour party’s manifesto makes a number of commitments to support the growth of the digital sector, whilst also pushing for increased regulation to safeguard the development and use of emerging technologies.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Under the Conservatives, the UK government proposed a “pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” which the government described as a combination of “…cross-sectoral principles and a context-specific framework, international leadership and collaboration, and voluntary measures on developers”.

Conversely, the Labour party wants to “ensure the safe development and use of AI models by introducing binding regulation on the handful of companies developing the most powerful AI models and by banning the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes”. The introduction of such binding regulation will be supported by the creation of a new Regulatory Innovation Office which will “help regulators update regulation, speed up approval timelines, and co-ordinate issues that span existing boundaries”.

In addition, Labour has pledged to bolster the compute power required for the continued development of AI technologies on British shores by “remov[ing] planning barriers to new datacentres”.


In an effort to bolster support for the UK’s key research and development institutions, the Labour party will scrap short-term funding cycles in favour of 10-year budgets that “allow meaningful partnerships with industry to keep the UK at the forefront of global innovation” and “simplify the procurement process to support innovation and reduce micromanagement with a mission-driven approach”.

National Data Library

Labour’s commitment to R&D also includes creating a National Data Library to “bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services, whilst maintaining strong safeguards and ensuring all of the public benefit”.

As the UK navigates the evolving landscape of digital regulation, it stands at a crossroads of innovation and governance. Labour's manifesto reflects a commitment to fostering the growth of the digital sector while ensuring the responsible development and use of emerging technologies. Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether Labour's policies will fulfil their promise to “make Britain the best place to start and grow a business,” but the party’s two-pronged approach – which could be summarised as simultaneously facilitating and safeguarding technological development – seems like a reasonable starting point.

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Digital Regulation Hub

This is a busy time for digital and tech firms. Among other legislation, the Online Safety Act and EU’s Digital Services Act are coming into force, and the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is becoming law. We have created this hub to help your business navigate the digital regulatory maze.

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