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Liberal Democrat manifesto maintains 'digital bill of rights’ commitment

Neil Merrett Published 17 May 2017

As the party gears up for the General Election, a spending review focused on ensuring public sector efficiency through online services and collaboration is among its key tech pledges


The Liberal Democrats have recommitted to introducing a digital bill of rights with regards to citizen rights to personal data and internet neutrality, while also guaranteeing financial support to push forward with online public service provision in their election manifesto.

Pledging to undertake a spending review if in government following next month’s election, the party has set out a number of proposals relating to technology, data rights and public service delivery.

The review in particular aims to look at ensuring efficiency in delivering public services such as “proven spend-to-save initiatives”.  Local and community integration, as well funding technology programmes to get public services and front-line staff online, will be among the review’s core aims impacting ICT.

The party is also committed to holding a final referendum vote on the preferred model of the UK’s relationship with the EU once negotiations have been held.  This headline pledge to undertake an additional vote on last year’s referendum would aim to present clearer details on what the UK’s status would be with regard to powers and free market access in the bloc, as well as offering an option to remain in the union for those unsatisfied with the final terms agreed.

Following on from previous commitments announced before the 2015 General Election, the party is pledging to set out key digital rights with regards to individual data.

“The proposed digital bill of rights would aim to protect people’s powers over their own information, supports individuals over large corporations, and preserves the neutrality of the internet,” said the manifesto.

The party would also support bringing an end to allowing a ministerial veto over the release of details through the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.  It would also look to move towards curbing the proportion of FoI requests where government departments withhold specified details.

Among broader commitments, the Liberal Democrats will support broadband connection investment to guarantee speeds of at least 2 Gbps by 2020.  By the end of the current decade, the party also seeks to ensure that fibre to the premises (FTTP) is standard, as well as providing unlimited usage to individuals across the UK.

With regard to connection, the Liberal Democrats played up prioritising hyperfast broadband for small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).  The manifesto also commits to trying to double SME numbers involved in the digital economy through the provision of capital expenditure focused on business in non-digital sectors.

Manifestos for a number of the UK’s key political parties are being released this week and will be covered by Government Computing over the next few days.

Coverage of the Labour Party’s own manifesto release on Tuesday (May 16) can be read here.

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