General election 2024: Liberal Democrats thread digital commitments throughout manifesto | Computer Weekly – The Global Tofay

General election 2024: Liberal Democrats thread digital commitments throughout manifesto | Computer Weekly - The Global Tofay Global Today

The Liberal Democrat Party has published its manifesto for the 2024 general election, threading a wide range of digital policies throughout its promise to deliver “a fair deal” for the UK.

At the heart of the business-oriented aspects of the manifesto is an industrial strategy “focused on the skills the future UK economy will need”, including the digital sector.

The current government withdrew its industrial strategy and its independent Industrial Strategy Council in 2021, preferring to release a series of targeted policies such as a semiconductor strategy and a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy.

The Lib Dems said in their manifesto the party would “empower people and support businesses to thrive by encouraging investment and boosting productivity” and “make Britain a world leader in the new infrastructure, businesses and technologies needed to tackle climate change”.

The party promises to support science, research and innovation, particularly among small businesses and startups, with a commitment for at least 3% of GDP to be invested in research and development by 2030, rising to 3.5% by 2034.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said in a foreword to the manifesto: “This election is about more than a change of government. We must transform the very nature of British politics itself, so that we can fix the health and care crisis, get our economy back on track…and give people the fair deal they deserve.”

Plans to exploit and regulate AI feature prominently, with a goal to “make the UK a world leader in ethical, inclusive new technology, including artificial intelligence”, and to “create a clear, workable and well-resourced cross-sectoral regulatory framework” for AI.

Specific policies within that include negotiating the UK’s participation in the Trade and Technology Council, with the US and the EU to play a leading role in global AI regulation, and working with international partners in agreeing common standards for AI risk and impact assessment, testing, monitoring and audit.

The party said it will ensure “transparency and accountability for AI systems in the public sector” and that “the use of personal data and AI is unbiased, transparent and accurate, and respects the privacy of innocent people”.

The manifesto aims to boost skills by modernising employment rights to make them fit for “the age of the gig economy”. Investing in education and training, and improving the availability of apprenticeships.

IT contractors will be pleased to see a commitment to end retrospective tax changes such as the loan charge brought in by the Conservative government, and review IR35 tax laws “to ensure self-employed people are treated fairly”.

Technology also plays a key part in Lib Dem plans to overhaul the NHS and improve social care.

The party aims to “harness the benefits of new technology and digital tools for patients” by ring-fencing NHS budgets for adopting digital tools that improve patient care and experience and save staff time and costs; replacing “old, slow computers” to free up clinicians’ time; requiring all IT systems used by the NHS to work with each other; and ensuring use of electronic records that “can feed into a patient’s health record with the patient’s consent”.

The party will also expand existing projects to set up “virtual wards” and invest in technologies that allow people to be treated at or closer to home.

They will also introduce a “kitemark” for health apps and digital tools that are “clinically proven to help people lead healthier lives”.

In social care, the Lib Dems want to develop a digital strategy to enable care users to “live tech-enabled lives”, including by rolling out digital platforms for care users to better connect with care workers, friends and family, and voluntary groups.

To improve cyber security, the Lib Dems said they will create a new Online Crime Agency to “effectively tackle illegal content and activity online”, such as personal fraud, revenge porn and threats and incitement to violence on social media.

They will also implement a data strategy across the criminal justice system to better manage capacity and the needs of everyone involved in the system.

Repeating a promise made in previous general election campaigns, the Lib Dems want to introduce a Digital Bill of Rights to embed rights to privacy, free expression, and participation without being subjected to harassment and abuse; end bulk collection of communications data and internet connection records; and introduce a legally binding regulatory framework for all forms of biometric surveillance.

Addressing fears about the use of emerging technologies such as AI in warfare, the part said it will support the development of international treaties on the “principles and limits of the use of technology in modern warfare”.

For digital consumers, the Lib Dems promised to ensure that gigabit broadband is available to every home and business, including in rural and remote communities, and “support local bespoke solutions so that no property is left out”.

They want to set a UK-wide target for digital literacy and require all tech products to provide a “short, clear version of their terms and conditions”, setting out the key facts related to individuals’ data and privacy.

The party identified an opportunity to increase public spending by increasing the Digital Services Tax on social media firms and other tech giants that was introduced by the Conservative government, from 2% to 6%.

And following the furore over ministers deleting WhatsApp messages exchanged during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Lib Dems want to “end the scandal of ‘government by WhatsApp’” by requiring that all ministers’ instant-messaging conversations involving government business be placed on the departmental record, along with a record of all lobbying of ministers via instant messages, emails, letters and phone calls.

The Conservative Party election manifesto is due to be published tomorrow (11 June), followed by the Green Party on Wednesday and the Labour Party on Thursday.

#General #election #Liberal #Democrats #thread #digital #commitments #manifesto #Computer #Weekly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *