London Begins Work On Ethical Technology Guidelines

The city of London in the UK is in the process of creating ‘London’s Emerging Technology Charter’ – a set of practical and ethical guidelines focused on openness, digital rights, use of data and sustainability of technology. The goal of the Charter is to ensure the ethical use of future technologies by public services and in the public realm.

The charter will cover technologies such as driverless cars, facial recognition software, drones, sensor networks, robotics, mobility services, augmented and virtual reality, and automated and algorithmic decision-making. It aims to: set common expectations to tech buyers and makers to innovate successfully;  give London residents and their elected representatives a framework to ask questions about the technologies proposed or deployed in London; and, establish enhanced transparency for Londoners on products and services that data protection law considers potentially high risk to privacy.

The Charter will establish a register of Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs),  legal requirements in any data processing with a high risk to individuals’ privacy.

“We want to foster a trustworthy environment for innovation to flourish, and to do so responsibly,” said Theo Blackwell, chief digital officer for London. “When a new technology is deployed it’s not easy for Londoners to find out about how privacy risks have been identified and managed. Our principles create a central register of assessments organisations are required to carry out by law.

The charter will be voluntary, but local government and public services, and all interested stakeholders are encouraged to adopt it to improve how technology is implemented in the UK capital.

“London is and always will be open to business and innovation. In the face of Brexit and the global pandemic, our capital has proven itself to be one of the best global cities for tech,” said London mayor Sadiq Khan. “The tech sector in London has a huge role to play in rebuilding a fairer city for everyone as we recover from the pandemic. My new Emerging Tech Charter will play a significant part in that recovery, making sure both Londoners and tech businesses are using data efficiently to get the most out of technological innovation.”