Lib Dems focus on local government digital reform

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to push for the principle of “digital by default” to be extended to local government, according to its 2015 general election manifesto.

Launching the document yesterday, the party’s leader Nick Clegg admitted that the party would not win an overall majority in the Commons.

But he said that the part would act as a brake on either the Conservatives or Labour if it formed part of a new coalition government.

The manifesto promised to “maintain and develop the award-winning Government Digital Service, and the principle of ‘digital by default’ in public services, pressing ahead with plans to extend this to local government.”

It said that the party would work to ensure that the shift did not leave anyone behind, by “upholding the highest standards of accessibility in digital services and maintaining government programmes on digital inclusion”.

The party also promised to continue to release government data sets in order to help economic growth and improve standards in public services.

It would also introduce “technology impact assessments” which would embed the technology implications of government activity into the policy design process.

More generally, the party would pass a digital bill of rights which it says would “define and enshrine” the rights of citizens.

It would also set stricter limits on surveillance.

“We are opposed to the blanket collection of UK residents’ personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies,” according to the manifesto.

“Access to metadata, live content, or the stored content of personal communications must only take place without consent where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or to prevent threats to life.

Julian David chief executive of ICT industry body TechUK, said, “The Liberal Democrat manifesto contains a raft of commitments that have at their core a recognition that tech and digital are driving the future economic success of the UK economy.

“It is right that parties recognise the importance of having the right skills and expertise to maximise the potential of tech across the UK. There are also thoughtful pledges on the next wave of digital public services, including at local government level.”

Colin Marrs

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