Queen’s Speech: legislation of interest to technology lawyers

December 20, 2019

The new session of parliament was opened on 19 December with a number of pieces of legislation mentioned in the Queen’s Speech which may be of interest to technology lawyers. Most were originally covered in the October Queen’s Speech but have been carried over to the new parliament.

Online harms legislation

The April 2019 Online Harms White Paper set out the UK government’s plan for new legislation to deal with online harms. 

The public consultation on this has closed and the government is analysing the responses and considering the issues raised, with a view to preparing legislation. 

Ahead of this, the government plans to publish interim codes of practice on tackling the use of the internet by terrorists and those engaged in child sexual abuse and exploitation. 

The government will publish a media literacy strategy to help users to stay safe online. A Safety by Design framework will help start-ups and businesses embed safety from the early stages of development. Finally, the government will carry out a review of the Gambling Act, with a particular focus on tackling issues around online loot boxes and credit card misuse.


The government plans new laws relating to the delivery of gigabit capable broadband. 

The main elements of the legislation are: 

  • Creating a light-touch tribunal process for telecoms companies to obtain interim code rights (or access rights) for a period of up to 18 months. This will mean that they can install broadband connections where the landlord has failed to respond to repeated requests for access. 
  • Amending legislation so that all new build homes are required to have the infrastructure to support gigabit-capable connections.
  • Requiring developers to work with broadband companies to install gigabit capable connections in virtually all new build homes, up to a cost cap. 

Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill

The main elements of the Bill are:

  • New government powers to direct an airport or other relevant body to prepare and submit a proposal to the Civil Aviation Authority to modernise their airspace, enabling more efficient, quieter and greener flights.
  • Modernising the licensing framework for air traffic control.
  • New police powers to tackle the unlawful use of unmanned aircraft. These include the ability to require a person to land an unmanned aircraft and enhanced stop and search powers where particular unmanned aircraft related offences have taken place.

Science, space and research 

In the areas of science, space and research, the government plans the following:

  • Backing a new approach to funding high-risk, high-payoff research in emerging fields of research and technology. The government will work with industry and academics to finalise this proposal.
  • Introducing a new fast-track immigration scheme for scientists and researchers.
  • Reducing bureaucracy in research funding
  • Establishing a new National Space Council and launching a comprehensive UK Space Strategy.

The government says that it will prioritise investment in sectors such as life sciences, clean energy, space, design, computing, robotics and artificial intelligence. It also intends to drive forward development of these technologies by investing in hubs around world-leading universities.