By the London technology team
This week’s tech top 3 is all about the political parties’ manifestos and what they mean for the tech sector.
Tech featured prominently in the Tory manifesto across a range of issues, including broadband rollout, mobile coverage, spectrum and 5G, G-cloud, Government Digital Service and cyber security. Additionally, the manifesto also included the previously announced policy of introducing age checks for those who watch online pornography and plans to combat the spread of extremist content.
Unsurprisingly, ‘improved’ Government access to communications data featured prominently in the Conservative manifesto, with the Prime Minister describing it as ‘vital’ for national security in his launch speech. With the sunset clause on DRIPA expiring at the end of 2016, the issue of communications data legislation will return to the table no matter who forms the next Government.
The Conservatives tech manifesto commitments were well covered by Dan Worth of V3.
Perhaps the most eye-catching proposal contained in the Lib Dem’s manifesto is the Digital Bill of Rights. The Lib Dems pledge to “protect your privacy by updating data laws for the internet age with a Digital Bill of Rights” and thus “define and enshrine the digital rights of the citizen”.
The Liberal Democrats vetoed the Communications Data Bill, nicknamed the Snooper’s Charter, which would have required telecommunications companies to maintain records of users’ internet activities. The Bill’s provisions ultimately prompted Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to block the Bill.
The Digital Bill of Rights will, amongst other things, enshrine the principle that everyone has the right to control their own personal data and ensure that privacy is protected online and in telecoms to the same extent as it is in the offline world. They have also made commitments to protect net neutrality and to minimise the censoring of content.
Labour, are mirroring the Conservatives with plans to continue with the current broadband plans and increase the online surveillance powers for law-enforcement and intelligence agencies with safeguards. There has been mixed reaction to the manifesto (perceived by some as interventionist), which contains policies on tax avoidance and banning the ‘nom-dom’ status used by several tech investors.
Despite this, Labour do have some interesting ideas to keep Britain as a “leader in digital technology”. They have pledged a ‘long term approach to science and innovation spending’, and business supported plans to develop more tech-clusters and introduce a technical baccalaureate for 16-18 year olds. Interestingly, Labour also want an ‘open-data by default’ standard across Government, but of course, the devil is in the detail.
Computer Business Review had an interesting panel of tech experts assess the manifesto.