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Party Manifesto Briefing

Party Manifesto Briefing

Manifesto Brief Data Analytics

The aim of this brief is to give the reader a brief comparative outline of the main data analytics and digital economy  features of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal-Democrat manifestos. The manifestos differ greatly on the scope allocated to issues relevant to data analytics and the way they structure this content. Fortunately, there are three key areas where comparison is highly instructive: digital infrastructure, consumer and data protection, and approaches to the digital economy sector. The following section will highlight important provisions in these areas. This is followed by a more in-depth analysis of the manifesto policies.

Common topics

Digital Infrastructure

All three parties pledge to improve digital infrastructure. Team Theresa May sets itself relatively moderate goals, such as making superfast broadband available to every business by 2020, guaranteed availability of Wi-Fi signal on trains and the increased use of digital technology to improve public transport. Partly these pledges are moderate because they are simple re-statements of existing legislation, as in the case of broadband for every business, which is already encapsulated in the Universal Service Obligation (USO), partly because they fail to have industry wide ramifications, as in the case of guaranteed Wi-Fi signal on trains.

In the longer term, the Conservative manifesto pledges to establish ‘major fibre spines’ in many UK cities and towns and the roll-out of full-fibre connectivity over the next decade.  Perhaps the most innovative provision is the creation of the largest body of geospatial data, to be achieved through the merging of serval, currently separate databases operated by government agencies. This data base will be made available to businesses and might give a boost to the British digital economy, such as the video gaming industry.

The Labour manifesto stresses the importance of strengthening Britain’s digital infrastructure, while overall placing less emphasis on the digital economy than either of the other two manifestos.  The Labour manifesto commits to rolling out super-fast broadband by 2022, making free Wi-Fi available in city and town centres, and improving 4Gcoverage. For the longer term, Labour plans to instruct a Commission to examine the possibilities of rolling out 300mbps broadband across the country over the next decade.

The Liberal Democrat Manifesto is the most ambitious of the three with regard to digital infrastructure, as exemplified by their pledge to ensure every property in the UK has access to 30mbps download and 6mbps upload speed by 2022 without restrictive usage caps. These speeds are to be achieved through comprehensive fibre-to-premise (FTTP) connections. Additionally, the Liberal Democrats commit to investing £ 2 billion in digital infrastructure projects.  

Overall, while digital infrastructure features in each manifesto, it is noteworthy that the Conservatives avoid making concrete, priced and ambitious promises, while Labour places digital infrastructure firmly within its overall infrastructure agenda, giving it less specific attention than the Conservative manifesto. The liberal democrat manifesto is certainly the most expansive agenda for digital infrastructure, setting both narrow time frames and aspirational targets.

Data protection/ consumer protection

Within a rather extensive digital agenda, regulating the online world is clearly the central theme of the Conservative manifesto. This is best captured in the assertion that ‘it is for government, not private companies, to protect the security of people and ensure the fairness of the rules by which people and businesses abide’.  Having thus established the government’s duty of care, the manifesto sets out that rules applying to the physical world should be mirrored online: ‘Our starting point is that online rules should reflect those that govern our lives offline’.

The manifesto reiterates arguments made in the Digital Economy Act (DEA), whereby the government acquires substantial new powers to monitor, censor and restrict access to online content in order to protect the public. Indeed, all measures within the Conservative manifesto fall under the paradigm of ‘harnessing the digital revolution’ as the manifesto itself calls it. To achieve this, a digital receipt and signature are to be introduced in order to enhance consumer protection and the so called ‘Right to be forgotten’ is affirmed. The ‘Right to be forgotten’ is one of few policies that all three parties agree on. The Lib-Dem manifesto opposes attempts to weaken encryption of messaging services and other forms of digital communication, to make data more easily accessible to the government. They also oppose more extensive data collection by the government, as enshrined in the Digital Economy Act and the Conservative Manifesto. Beyond, the ‘Right to be forgotten’ Labour makes no specific provisions regarding the regulation of the web, except to speak out against cyber bullying.

Digital Economy

The Liberal Democrat manifesto envisions the creation of start-up allowances to aid new companies in the digital sector in the crucial initial phase. The creation of tech hubs and industry parks specifically for companies in the digital sector is another cornerstone of the Lib Dem strategy for the sector. These measures are accompanied by a system of tax incentives through lowered corporate taxes and a promise to strengthen the powers of the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate concentrations of power in the digital economy.

Labour pledges to appoint a digital ambassador to promote FDI into the British digital economy, in addition to pledges to create infrastructure for the digital economy. The Labour manifesto also sets out the goal of retaining membership of the Horizon 2020 programme, which would ensure continued access to EU funding for research projects.  The Conservative manifesto for the digital economy follows its overall theme of increased state intervention through regulation. For the regulation of the digital economy, it lays out a more international approach, whereby Britain and its global partners devise a legal framework to govern the digital economy. The plan for the sector also includes the establishment of a British Business Park Bank to provide vital finance for digital start-ups.

 

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Lib dem conservative labour party manifestos 2017 GE
party manifestos 2017 GE