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Industry figures welcome Matt Hancock’s appointment as digital and culture secretary

Digital minister Matt Hancock is making a return to the Cabinet after being promoted to Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport.

The MP for West Suffolk held the role of Minister for Cabinet Office until he was demoted to digital minister during Theresa May’s reshuffle in 2016.

But his role in raising the profile of the digital sector within Whitehall now appears to have won him the support of the Prime Minister. 

Hancock was instrumental in the renaming of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department of Digital, Culture Media and Sport last year.

His other successes as digital minister include new regulation giving consumers the right to demand adequate broadband speeds by 2020. He was also instrumental in forging a partnership between DCMS and the Tech Talent Charter, an initiative to address the gender imbalance in tech companies in the UK.

The promotion was welcomed by TechUK’s CEO, Julian David, who said Hancock had been a “fantastic” minister for digital.

“His appointment comes at a critical time for the tech industry with GDPR coming into force later this year, a rapidly digitising economy and continued uncertainty over Brexit,” he said.

“I, and the whole of techUK, look forward to working with him on these and a host of other issues over the coming years,” he added.

Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates, said he was pleased for Hancock: “Matt has proven time and time again that he’s very supportive of the tech sector. He really gets himself out there.”

Hancock’s response to the rise of fake news on social media sites and search engines will be keenly observed by many in the tech sector.

Speaking to the DCMS select committee last month, he accused Facebook and Twitter of failing to fully disclose the scale of Russian interference on their platforms.

“These platforms recognise the problem, and we recognise the progress they have made, but there is far more for them to do on transparency and co-operation,” he said.

Hancock succeeds Karen Bradley, who replaces James Brokenshire as Secretary for Northern Ireland. Hancock’s replacement as digital minister is expected to be announced today.