Prime Minister's Special Representative on Internet Safety

Baroness Shields OBE

Biography

Baroness Joanna Shields appointed was appointed as the as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Internet Safety in September 2017. This role is based in the Cabinet Office and is unpaid.

Baroness Shields was Minister for Internet Safety and Security from May 2015 to June 2017. In December 2016, she was appointed as the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Internet Crime and Harms and became solely an unpaid Home Office minister.

Education

Baroness Shields earned her Bachelor of Science degree at The Pennsylvania State University in 1984 and her Masters in Business Administration at George Washington University in 1987. She received a Doctorate in Public Service, Honoris Causa, in May 2016 from the George Washington University.

Political career

Baroness Shields role was appointed Minister for Internet Safety and Security at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in May 2015. She became a joint minister at the Home Office in December 2015, and was reappointed to the post in July 2016. She became a life peer in the House of Lords in September 2014. Baroness Shields holds dual UK-US citizenship.

Career outside politics

Before becoming a minister, Baroness Shields was Prime Minister David Cameron’s Digital Advisor and the CEO and Chair of Tech City UK, where she was responsible for leading efforts across the UK to support, develop and catalyse the digital economy. During her tenure, she launched a number of successful initiatives, including the TechNation, the Digital Business Academy, Future Fifty and HQ-UK.

From 2013 to 2015 she led a UK-US taskforce to combat online child sexual abuse and exploitation. In May 2014, she launched WeProtect, a global initiative bringing together government, law enforcement, industry and NGOs from 62 countries to create breakthrough solutions for protecting children around the world from these horrific crimes.

Baroness Shields began her career in Silicon Valley and spent over 25 years building some of the world’s best-known technology companies, holding senior executive roles at Electronics for Imaging, RealNetworks, Google, Aol and Facebook. She also led several start-ups to successful acquisitions, including Bebo, Decru and Veon.

Most recently, she was Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa, leading the company’s international growth to over 1 billion users.

Prime Minister's Special Representative on Internet Safety

The Special Representative will support the delivery of the government’s objective to make the UK the safest place to use the internet without fear of abuse, criminality or exposure to harmful content. The Special Representative will support the Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Culture Secretary at home and abroad.

The Special Representative will:

  • support the government’s work on internet safety representing the UK in the US, EU and international forums, conferences and events. This includes on-going programmes of work and commitments with internet companies internationally (for example, through the EU, ​US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other​ international partner​s).
  • encourage the development of new company-led interventions to improve internet safety and to address abuse, criminality and harmful content online.
  • engage with established internet platform providers and facilitate their support of smaller companies with less established practices to combat internet abuse and harms.
  • continue serving on the WePROTECT Board and supporting the WePROTECT international agenda and expansion.

The Special Representative will be based in the Cabinet Office and be unpaid.

Previous roles in government

  1. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Internet Safety and Security

    • 2015 to 2017

Announcements

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  1. Baroness Shields' speech: the reality of young life behind screens

    • Speech
  2. Baroness Shields' speech at the National Security Agency

    • Speech
  3. Countering online radicalisation and extremism: Baroness Shields' speech

    • Speech
  4. Baroness Shields closing speech at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum

    • Speech
  5. Baroness Shields opening speech at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum

    • Speech
  6. Baroness Shields appointed as the PM's Special Representative on Internet Crime and Harms and becomes solely a Home Office minister

    • News story
  7. An Internet for Children and Young People

    • Speech
  8. Baroness Shields’ speech at INTERPOL Specialists Group meeting

    • Speech
  9. New ministerial team at DCMS confirmed

    • Press release
  10. Baroness Shields speaks at United Nations launch of the End Violence Against Children Global Partnership & WePROTECT Initiative Fund

    • Speech