General Election: UKIP and the Green Party push cyber security, digital skills and online freedoms
General Election: UKIP and the Green Party push cyber security, digital skills and online freedoms – IT News from V3.co.uk
The three major political parties’ manifestos addressed most of the key issues around technology in the UK, from broadband access and start-up support, to digital skills and public sector digitalisation.
But what about the other two UK-wide parties? Here is a review of the IT-related policies put forward by the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and the Green Party.
UKIP is best known for its anti-European Union (EU) and immigration policies. However, the party’s manifesto [PDF] does touch on technology issues, mostly focusing on the provision of digital and technical skills, and tackling cyber crime and security threats.
To help plug the UK’s STEM skills gap, UKIP would “waive tuition fees for students taking a degree in science; technology; engineering; maths or medicine”.
It said that higher education students studying these subjects would not have to repay their tuition fees if they worked in their chosen discipline and paid taxes for five years.
Despite being known as an anti-immigration party, UKIP said it would “maintain suitable levels of immigration to fill the skills gap”, but did not provide details as to how it would do this.
The role of technology in security and crime fighting was also addressed by UKIP’s manifesto.
The party said it would create a Director of National Intelligence to oversee and review the UK’s intelligence and security agencies and develop cyber security measures.
UKIP also said it would “invest in new technology such as communications equipment and personal CCTV” to combat crime should it come to power.
Furthermore, UKIP also said it wants a review of “what is and what is not a criminal offence”, particularly in reference to internet and cyber crimes.
The party also said it would commit to supporting small businesses with tax reliefs, though the manifesto did not mention any plans for helping start-ups or businesses in the UK’s growing technology clusters.
While UKIP said some of the money needed to fund its commitments would come from big cuts to the overseas aid budget and the axing of major “vanity” projects like the HS2 high-speed rail link.
UKIP said all its commitments had been costed and audited by independent think-tank the Centre for Economic and Business Research.
The Green Party
The majority of the technology initiatives in the Green Party manifesto [PDF] are focused on driving environmental benefits.
“The UK already has the technology it needs. What is lacking is the political will to build a cleaner, home-grown, more local, more affordable, more democratic and ultimately more reliable energy future,” the manifesto said.
To this end, the Greens pledge to plough £4.5bn into the research and development of less energy-intensive processes.
The party also would require new lorries to be equipped with “best practice technology” to ensure drivers are fully aware of the presence of pedestrians and cyclists.
Rather than put forward specific policies to fill the UK’s digital skills gap, the Green Party said it would “prioritise training in the skills needed to build a low-carbon economy”.
Tech start-ups might be relieved to know that while the Greens want to raise corporation tax for big business to 30 percent, the party plans to keep smaller companies on the current 20 percent rate.
The manifesto also said the Greens would move to tackle corporate tax evasion so that small businesses can remain competitive with less scrupulous ones.
The party added it would “give BT and other public telecommunications operators an obligation to provide affordable high-speed broadband-capable infrastructure to every small business”, to further support the UK’s SMEs.
On the issues of digital rights and digital surveillance, the Green Party was one of the more vocal political parties, having claimed it “supports a world of open, freely flowing information” and opposes “any case for secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden”.
As such the party said it would ensure surveillance is “proportionate, necessary effective and within the rule of law”, noting that it wants a “transparent state” with “control over the data that our digital lives create”.
Part of this would see the Greens rework copyright to be shorter, more flexible and fair, while preventing the application of patents on software.
The party committed to fully following human rights judgments on surveillance and data retention, noting it would support the EU’s proposals to strengthen data protection laws despite opposition from US data-centric businesses.
The manifesto also touted plans to replace the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which it claims has failed to support legal confidentially or to enshrine an open and effective right of redress.
The Green Party also said it would introduce a more “satisfactory law” for tackling malicious comments made on social media, than the “blanket and crude” section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
Author’s view: A betting man would not give either party positive odds of winning the General Election or likely be considered as part of any coalition government.
This means many of the commitments touted in UKIP’s and the Greens’ manifestos are effectively moot in the impact they will realistically have.
Equally, the majority of the proposed initiatives, policies and actions in both manifestos were very closely centred on UKIP’s and the Greens’ core agendas, leaving the wider technology issues in the UK for the three major parties to address.
But the inclusion of technology in their manifestos, even as an auxiliary part of wider social, economic and industrial ambitions, indicates the growing influence the digital and IT world is having on politics.
Read more here – http://www.v3.co.uk/v3-uk/news/2404287/general-election-ukip-and-the-green-party-push-cyber-security-digital-skills-and-online-freedoms