Boris Promises Faster, Safer Internet

The Queen would probably far rather have been preparing for a family Christmas, but events dictated that she opened Parliament today with the traditional Queen's Speech.

Much of it was entirely predictable. Brexit is going to get done, as the Conservatives would say, and there's more cash for the NHS and infrastructure projects.

The commitment to be net zero on greenhouse emissions by 2050 was repeated,  and in a nod to President Trump, a promise to keep on spending at least 2% of GDP on defence.

For the digital advertising industry there are two standout promises. The first is a little fudged. After Labour promised to roll out fibre broadband to the country for free, via nationalising BT Openreach, Boris is instead promising to accelerate the rollout of gigabyte broadband.

Obviously, the Queen's Speech cannot be used to spell out the detail of every decision, but for many pronouncements, there was a little more meat on the bone.

With broadband, we've just got an acceleration. It's good news, in principal, but the standard the industry will be held to of how many homes it reaches with fibre broadband by a particular date has yet to supplied. It's fair to say most people in the internet and mobile marketing industry will be waiting to see what transpires.

It's a little similar with the safer internet pledge. The speech, which had to pack a lot in, made just a fleeting reference to legislation aimed at improving internet safety.

Again, we will have to wait and see what the detail will be here. Are we talking a new regulator? Are we talking new laws to ensure social media giants remove hate speech and self-harm material within a specified time limit?

Most in the industry who have followed the debate throughout the year will probably be right in suspecting we will see both. The party promised action in both the 2017 and 2019 manifestos and has consulted the public and the industry already. So the path is clear now for a new regulator to oversee upcoming laws on internet safety.

The really big decision we're waiting on will be when Sajid Javid, if he remains Chancellor, takes to his feet in the New Year to make a financial statement on behalf of the Government. The big question that everyone in digital marketing will be asking is what is happening with the tech tax, or the Digital Services Tax as it is officially known.

We already knew Boris was making a vague promise about better broadband and a safer internet, but what about the tax that was supposed to his the tech giants where it hurts? Will Trump's threats of countermeasures be so strong that the tax is postponed, possibly indefinitely?

Like the detail on how we're going to get faster fibre and how it's going to be made safer, we'll just have to wait and see. However, it's worth pointing out that the latter two have moved from manifesto lines to promised action now that they have been read out loud in the Commons.

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