The Outlook for Technology, AI, and Privacy Policy in the UK Post–General Election

July 03, 2024

As the United Kingdom prepares for the upcoming general election on July 4, 2024, attention turns to if there will be a potential change in government. This transition may not only bring changes in fiscal governance, but also raises questions about the future direction of technology policies, artificial intelligence development, and data privacy regulations in the UK.


The Conservative government made several aspirational plans in respect of the technology industry, including in March 2023 when the Prime Minister and Technology Secretary launched the government’s plan to make the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030, including a pledge to make available more than £370 million (approximately $472 million) to boost investment in innovation, in particular in quantum-computing, super-computing, and AI.

The Tories also introduced the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI), which made it to the committee stage of the House of Lords but failed to be finalized prior to the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the July 4 election. The DPDI was, among other things, designed to make the UK a more attractive place for the research and development (R&D) and deployment of AI technology. It would have also established new frameworks for smart data and digital ID. It will now be for the next government to decide whether to continue with the DPDI or take another path.


The Labour Party manifesto is somewhat light touch regarding technology, AI, and privacy. However, the party has committed to long-term R&D budgets and to creating a new Regulatory Innovation Office in view of its belief that “[r]egulators are currently ill-equipped to deal with the dramatic development of new technologies.”

Data Privacy and Technological Innovation

Surprisingly, the manifesto makes no reference to data protection reform, potentially signaling that reintroducing the DPDI Bill will not be on the agenda for a Labour government.

It does however set out Labour’s plan for driving innovation:

We will ensure our industrial strategy supports the development of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector [and] removes planning barriers to new datacentres. . . . [W]e will create a National Data Library to bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services, whilst maintaining strong safeguards and ensuring all of the public benefit make reference to Data Centres.”

Artificial Intelligence

The Conservatives, adopting a so-called “pro-innovation approach,” expressly chose not to introduce AI-specific legislation on the lines of the EU’s AI Act. They instead preferred to encourage regulators of existing laws (focused on data protection, competition, media and telecommunications, and financial services regulatory) to regulate AI by extending the reach of those laws, mostly without AI-specific statutory amendments.

By contrast, the Labour Party seeks to regulate AI through statutory footing by introducing “binding regulation” on the “handful of companies developing the most powerful AI models.” Importantly, this suggests that while the Labour Party does intend to introduce AI-specific legislation, this legislation will be more narrowly targeted. Notably, it will not go as far as the EU’s AI Act, an omnibus, industry-agnostic, AI-specific law. Labour also intends to ban the creation of “sexually explicit deepfakes.”

Overall, the Labour Party’s approach could be a significant turning point for AI regulation in the UK with Labour having to walk a fine line between adequate regulation and promoting innovation.


In a move that will also create potential benefits for AI, as well as the wider technology industry in the UK, Labour is committing to removing planning barriers for the development of datacentres and taking those planning decisions into central government. This will hopefully result in the development of many more datacentres on UK soil, in particular unused brownfield sites. This will be a welcome development for the hyperscalers as well as those technology companies that rely heavily on large datacentre processing power. It will likely also have a positive impact on data privacy, paving the way for more data localization within the UK.

Other Technologies

Labour is also committing to supporting other technologies, including open banking, open finance, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) technologies, but little detail is provided on what this will actually entail.


Regardless of the result of the general election, technology, AI, and data privacy are key areas that the next government will have to address.

Clarity regarding AI regulation and updates to data privacy laws would be welcomed by many, particularly those businesses looking to innovate in a compliant and responsible manner.


We will continue to monitor the next government’s commitments and progress in relation to technology, AI, and data privacy and release further LawFlashes on new developments in this space.

Our team at Morgan Lewis stands ready to assist companies navigating this evolving landscape.


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