As the passage of the UK’s technologically illiterate Digital Economy Act in 2010 demonstrated, many UK politicians are completely at sea when it comes to modern technology. But even they recognise that the digital world forms a crucial part of modern life, and that any political party hoping to enter government needs to have policies for issues the Internet raises. That said, the different political parties have very different views and priorities when it comes to legislating for the digital world.
Ahead of the UK’s General Election on May 7, Ars has put together a guide to what the manifestos say on a number of key topics: surveillance; privacy and data protection; copyright and patents; web blocking; freedom of speech; digital rights; and various forms of openness—open data, open standards and open government. The policies comes from the following manifestos (in alphabetical order): Conservatives, Green Party of England and Wales, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Pirate Party, Scottish National Party and UKIP. The Open Rights Group has usefully collected statements on these and few other areas in the form of a single web page, organised by party.
Surveillance
Reflecting the continuing debate initiated by Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive online surveillance conducted by the UK’s GCHQ and the US’s NSA, the main parties’ manifestos all make statements about their views and future plans in this area. Keeping pace with technological changes is a common theme. Labour says: “We will need to update our investigative laws to keep up with changing technology, strengthening both the powers available, and the safeguards that protect people’s privacy.”
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