The government has created a new director general position for digital and media in a bid to boost the UK’s digital economy, appointing former British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould to the role.
Gould, who launched the UK-Israel tech hub as ambassador to Israel, will oversee work on digital skills, connectivity and encouraging innovation in digital.
The role will be based in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and Gould will be responsible for the department’s digital and media policy brief – much of which is covered by the government’s new Digital Economy Bill, which is making its way through parliament.
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The bill, currently in committee stage, has come under fire for lacking clarity on a number of areas, particularly on rules around greater sharing of citizens’ data across government.
The government said Gould’s work would cover the roll-out of high-speed connectivity across the country, reducing the number of people who are excluded from the digital economy, and improving digital skills for all citizens.
Other areas of his role will involve supporting British companies with access to infrastructure and technology and work to create an innovation-friendly environment.
Gould – who has also led the Cabinet Office’s cyber security unit as its director of cyber security and information assurance – will also have a role in oversight of UK cyber security measures.
He will work closely with Liam Maxwell, the government’s national technology adviser, and Antonia Romeo, the government’s special envoy to US technology companies.
The government said that Gould’s overseas experience, having worked in Tehran, Islamabad, Washington and Manila, would help the government “deliver its ambitions to help UK digital businesses expand across the world”.
Gould – who only joined Twitter this summer – used his first tweet to say that he was proud to be first director general for digital and media and that there was “a big task ahead [to make] the UK the world's leading digital economy”.
In a statement, he said: “If we want the UK to prosper, we need to make sure we have world-class connectivity, and if we want an inclusive society, we need to tackle digital exclusion and make sure everyone has the digital skills they need.”