Speech

Digital Britain, digital India, digital world

This speech was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Speech by UK Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Rt Hon Francis Maude MP at the ORF Auditorium on Thursday, 12 September 2013.

Delighted to be in India, and here at the Observer Research Foundation. I have a high regard for Think Tanks, I set one up in the UK that has just celebrated its 10th birthday. And ORF is impressive and vibrant, particularly in its use of evidence in Policy Development.

When David Cameron visited India earlier this year, he spoke passionately of his desire to forge a new special relationship between our countries, and for the UK to become your partner of choice.

So I’m particularly pleased to be speaking here in New Delhi about the UK-India digital partnership, where we are both leading in this field.

Cyber security can sound dark and menacing, but the internet has brought many benefits in terms of social and economic growth. The internet has brought us closer together.

Software developers in Bangalore can sell their products to small businesses in Manchester at the click of a button.

A family in Mumbai can keep in touch with their son or daughter studying at university in Edinburgh through Skype, Facebook and the wonders of social media.

And a cricket fan in Delhi can stream coverage of India batting at Lord’s across the internet – providing the rain holds off.

In vibrant democracies like ours, we can see that an open and stable internet has the power to drive economic and social development.

Our approach has been to maximise the potential for growth, efficiency and creativity, while minimising the threats to people’s security and prosperity.

But because the internet is defined by openness, strong partnerships are essential to this strategy - and we particularly value our relationship with India. You are a country of students, entrepreneurs and innovators, with a growing economy and a strong innovative technology sector. And before long, India will have the largest online populations in the world.

So I’m here today to tell you that where there are opportunities, the UK is open for business.

Where we have expertise, we want to share it.

And where we need to improve our capability, we are ready to learn.

Digital Growth

We want to make the UK one of the easiest and most secure places in the world to do business. So I’m delighted that Indian inward investment in the UK is increasing. Together, we’re building on existing strengths in areas like aerospace, ICT and life sciences. Bangalore-based companies like Infosys and Wipro are major employers. Rolta, Mindtree Consulting, Microland, Sasken, ITC Infotech and Symphony Services are in the UK too –the list could go on and on. And I look forward to visiting many during this visit. And UK firms continue to invest in India-based outsourcing or Indian produced software.

With our economies so tightly connected, we have a strong shared interest in supporting further cooperation in this field. Already the jointly funded UK-India research collaboration has invested £125 million in the last five years, leaving the UK well positioned to be India’s partner of choice in science and research.

And because we know the power of the internet to take a single brilliant idea and propel it into a global phenomenon, our Technology Strategy Board is investing over £1 billion in high-technology sectors. Money which will help commercialise new and emerging technologies, from high value manufacturing and cell therapy, to satellite applications and networked transport systems.

Places like Cambridge and London’s Tech City are already becoming incubators for innovative and creative start-up companies. They thrive because of the high level of government support, availability of quality infrastructure, excellent internet and broadband connectivity. With our background, the UK is well placed to work with government and organisations that are keen to build similar hubs here.

Digital Government

But the internet’s potential extends far beyond economic growth.

It has the power to improve the relationship between citizens and the state, and to change government for the better.

At first glance India and the UK’s demographics are very different: you have a young population; ours is an aging one. But the challenges are the same: increased pressure on infrastructure, rising demand on public services, massive financial constraint. Like you, we’ve had to look for new ways of doing things.

We established an Efficiency and Reform Group to focus government departments on achieving significant savings without impacting frontline services – delivering more for less.

Last financial year this approach contributed to £10bn in efficiency savings, through re-negotiating contracts, cutting projects, procurement reform. Whilst not damaging, and often improving public services.

But to meet our aspiration to save £20bn a year by 2015, we needed to embed this mindset in the DNA of the public sector.

So in parallel, our Civil Service Reform Plan is developing the in-house ability in digital skills, project management and commercial awareness that has too often been lacking in the past.

To support these aims we have made it a priority to bring the workings of the UK government in to the 21st century.

The development of the internet owes much to its private sector pioneers: the innovators and entrepreneurs who acted with speed and weren’t afraid to take risks.

Government, on the other hand, has generally been something a latecomer. And even then, the approach was too rarely dynamic.

For instance, the UK government has over 650 different transactional services, delivering over a billion transactions each year to businesses and citizens.

And yet half of them didn’t offer a digital option at all. And those that did tended to be designed around the needs of the provider, rather than the user.

So the UK Government Digital Strategy sets out a plan for making us digital by default in everything we do.

Just like in Karnataka, where there are now 20 million computerised land ownership records. Or in Andhra Pradesh, where citizens can now complete tax returns and register for passport applications online.

We have started with 25 of the 650 transactions as exemplars, but by 2018 we expect all government services handling over 100,000 transactions a year to be offered in this way: online.

We also launched the award-winning GOV.UK, which swept away a plethora of government websites, replacing them with a new, single domain for all government information and services.

It is simpler, clearer and faster for users - and saves 70% per year in the process.

We are not just building digital components of government – we are building a digital government based on user needs.

And, at the very root of our changes is a commitment to Open Standards – a commitment we share with India.

Both our governments recognise that digital public services can stimulate a generation of world-beating software and service businesses.

Open standards level the playing field for open source and propriety software in government IT, thereby increasing competition, lowering licencing costs and advancing innovation.

In order to get the best deal for the taxpayer, we are also changing the way we buy and run the technology.

In the past, the public sector would embark on large, complex IT projects: consistently delivered late and over budget.

We were procuring programmes before they had been designed – or over such a long period of time that the technology was out of date before it was delivered.

Worse, it would rely on a small pool of large IT suppliers – often locked into impenetrable contracts for years at a time - in a market where the cost of hosting halves every eighteen months.

We priced out the tech SMEs and digital start-ups that were growing up around us, unwittingly excluding the very companies whose innovation could help us get better value for the taxpayer.

We needed an open market, and one way of helping to achieve this was creating the Government CloudStore.

Almost an “e-bay for government”, it enables public sector organisations to purchase IT services off the shelf, on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than having to develop their own costly, bespoke systems.

Our CloudFirst policy expects all future hosting to be through the Cloudstore – unless clear exemption criteria are met.

To date there have been over £37 million in sales of IT services through the CloudStore – and 60% of this has been through small and medium sized enterprises.

It’s just one example of how innovation inside the public sector, can be used to support growth in the private sector.

Data is the raw material of the 21st Century, as coal and iron were during the Industrial revolution/ The government has the power to stimulate the IT sector simply through being more transparent.

We’re publishing vast amounts of government information - more than 10,000 datasets to be precise - so they can be used by businesses and other organisations for social and commercial purposes.

And we’ve found the benefits of transparency to be numerous.

Empowering patients to access their medical records online drives up standards in public services.

Publishing annual pay rates for the most senior civil servants helps strengthen institutions and drives accountability.

Quite simply, transparency makes for better government. This is why we are committed to helping other countries enhance and share the benefits of transparency, through our chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership, a multi-national partnership between governments and civil society organisations.

A global effort to make governments better, more effective and more accountable.

Eighteen months on from its launch, the Open Government Partnership has grown to include 60 countries.

India has also made huge strides in open government and - as the world’s largest democracy - there is much we could learn from your experience.

I hope there will be an opportunity to do so during this visit.

Cyber Security

But for people to have confidence in government services, they need to be sure their data is safe. And for the internet to drive economic growth, consumers need to know their money is secure. The UK’s National Audit Office estimates that security breaches now cost the UK economy in the order of £18 to 27bn.

That’s a price we – or any other country for that matter – cannot afford to continue to pay.

India’s losses through cybercrime are currently lower, but be in no doubt that they will increase as your economy continues to grow and to embrace technology and innovation.

In the UK, we are establishing a new National Computer Emergency Response Team – CERT-UK - to improve national co-ordination of cyber incidents and act as a focal point for international sharing of technical information on cyber security.

We have been behind India on this, but look forward to working with CERT-India once our CERT is fully operational. After all, it’s a global problem that requires a global response. Take the London Olympic & Paralympic Games. It faced many threats to its digital infrastructure – but the games organisers, business and the security services worked in unison to defend our networks.

Part of the reason for our success was that we learnt lessons from other global events: from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and from the Commonwealth Games, held here in New Delhi in 2010.

And in turn, officials from the London Games are now advising their counterparts in Brazil to help ensure Rio is equally successful – and equally secure.

This is the pattern for cooperation: lessons shared, expertise pooled, skills and capabilities developed in partnership.

The UK was proud to be the first country to sign a joint communiqué on cyber with India when Foreign Secretary William Hague was here last year. This outlines a basis for cooperation built around a shared vision that places at its heart fundamental freedoms, privacy and the free flow of information in a secure and reliable manner.

We’ve been working hard to make that a reality, but I believe we can become closer still.

Research Councils UK and the Indian Government are working to enable collaborations in areas like cloud security and cryptography, between the best UK and Indian academic researchers.

And today I’m pleased to announce the new Chevening TCS Cyber Policy Scholarship, which is being generously sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services.

This will allow Indian mid-career professionals to take an intensive course at the elite Cranfield University – part of the Defence Academy of the UK - covering cyber security and all related areas of public policy. The UK is home to four universities in the world’s top ten, six in the top 20. A UK education is an investment in long-term employability, which helps explain why 40,000 Indian students are currently studying in the UK.

Many of our universities already have excellent links with their counterparts in India. I believe that building links through education in this way is one of the most effective ways in which our two nations can come together for mutual benefit.

Global Governance

As cyberspace continues to emerge as a new front in international conflicts, we need to find ways to agree principles for moderating state behaviour.

The 2011 London Conference on Cyberspace marked the beginning of a conversation – one we’re proud to have started, but is far from over. London was followed-up last year in Budapest, and the dialogue will continue in Seoul next month. But the centrality of international cooperation to the UK’s approach extends beyond security, to the whole question of how we shape the future of the internet.

The global Internet Governance Forum, born out of the UN World Summit on the Information Society in 2005, recognised the pivotal role that the private sector played in the development of the internet.It has ensured that wherever decisions are made the interests of everyone – government, business, civil society – have been taken into account.

A working group under the UN’s Commission on Science and Technology for Development is now examining the mandate agreed at the World Summit on enhanced cooperation to enable governments to carry out their roles and responsibilities in international public policy issues pertaining to the internet.

We supported the proposal to set up the working group to map and review the extent to which such cooperation takes place. The important thing is to ensure that we do not dilute the characteristics that have made the internet successful so far. We don’t favour a leading role for governments in managing the internet, because – being a government – we know that they work slowly, whereas the internet is changing constantly and quickly. The internet was developed despite government, and not because of it. We don’t want to hold it back.

We continue to support the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance endorsed by the World Summit. The approach must continue to be open, inclusive and interactive.

Conclusion

The UK-India partnership is firmly based on a shared belief that an open internet is the only way to support security and prosperity for all.

Together, we are co-operating through business-to-business tie-ups:

  • Through public service partnerships.
  • Through academic collaboration.
  • And through government-to-government partnership on cyber security.

The internet is only going to get bigger – the threats and opportunities with it. Thankfully, ours is a partnership built to last.