PM backs Digital tax and 'web institute'
March 23, 2010
From Colin Mann in London
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that he wants Britain to be the world leader in the digital economy which will create over a quarter of a million skilled jobs by 2020.
“Underpinning the digital transformation that we are likely to see over the coming decade is the creation of the next generation of the web – what is called the semantic web, or the web of linked data,” he said. He announced the first funding for the next stage of research into the next generation – £30 million (E33m) to support the creation of a new institute, the institute of web science – based in Britain and working with government and British business to realise the social and economic benefits of advances in the web.
He said the steps towards achieving this ambition to become the leader in the next stage of the digital revolution were three-fold:
First to digitalise – to make Britain the leading superfast broadband digital power creating 100 per cent access to every home; Second to personalise – seizing the opportunities for voice and choice in public services by opening up data and using the power of digital technology to transform the way citizens interact with government; Third to economise.
Recognising that 21 per cent of UK adults had never accessed the Internet, Brown described superfast broadband as the electricity of the digital age, stating that it must be for all – not just for some. Suggesting that relying on market forces would result in superfast broadband coverage determined not even by need or social justice, or by the national interest but by profitability alone, and would open a lasting, pervasive and damaging new digital divide.
“That is why we have chosen to raise a small levy on each household phone line – 50p per month, about the price of a pint of milk – to help fund a partnership with the private sector for a superfast broadband network right across Britain,” he stated.