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General Election 2019: The Manifestos

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We’re in week three of the election campaign. Due to the exceptional circumstances of this election, the parties have been slower to release manifestos than they would in an ordinary election period. But, with two weeks of campaigning to go, all are finally out in the open.

I’ll spare you much of the endless analysis that you can obtain from mainstream media, and instead focus on what each parties’ policies might mean for you and me in the data and marketing industry.

Labour

The Labour manifesto has been described as one of the most radical ever to be presented by a political party in the UK. Between nationalisation of aspects of rail, water, telecoms, energy; increasing tax on high-earners and some businesses; and expanding public services to beyond pre-austerity levels, it would be a transformation that would certainly be impactful. The Labour party also propose to nationalise Royal Mail. While there are strong feelings on this particular issue, the DMA is committed to protecting Royal Mail in its present form, which has seen improved performance for customers and bolstered competitivity in the direct mail sector.

The fine print:

  • Establish a Charter of Digital Rights and enforce a legally enforceable duty of care to protect children online (p54)
  • Establish an inquiry into ‘fake news’, particularly in the digital advertising sphere (p54)
  • Increase the financial penalties available to the Electoral Commission and require imprints for digital political adverts (p82)
  • Introduce a legal right to collective consultation on the implementation of new technology in workplaces (p61)
  • Ensure data protection for NHS and patient information (p32)
  • Ensure NHS data is not exploited by international technology and pharmaceutical corporations (p32)
  • Creation of a co-ordinating minister to monitor cyber-readiness in relation to cybersecurity (p45)
  • Review the role and remit of the National Cyber Security Centre to determine whether it should be given powers as an auditing body (p45)
  • Deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030 (p 52)
  • Establish British Broadband, with two arms: British Digital Infrastructure (BDI) and the British Broadband Service (BBS); bring the broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership, with a jobs guarantee for workers (p53)
  • Roll out the remaining 90–92% of the full-fibre network, and acquire necessary access rights to existing assets via the BDI; BBS will coordinate the delivery of free broadband in tranches as the full-fibre network is rolled out (p53)
  • Make multinationals including tech giants pay for the operating costs of the public full-fibre network (p53)
  • Address the monopolistic hold the tech giants have on advertising revenues and support vital local newspapers and media outlets (p54)
  • Continue freedom of movement to ensure business can attract the talent it needs from across Europe (p71)

Conservatives

In stark contrast to Labour’s colossal policy canon, the Tory manifesto is described by the UK’s leading economic think tank as being light for even a one-year budget proposal, let alone for a full five-year programme of government. Relative to the other parties’ manifestos, it is also less detailed on how particular policies would be enacted. In saying this, many policies are continuations of those currently being drafted or enacted.

The details:

  • Increase the tax credit rate to 13 per cent and review the definition of R&D so that important investments in cloud computing and data, which boost productivity and innovation, are incentivised (p34)
  • Improve the use of data, data science and evidence in the process of government (p48)
  • Commit to improving the quality of evidence and data within Government about the types of barriers different groups face (p23)
  • Roll out of gigabit broadband across the country by 2025, with £5bn in funding already promised (p43)
  • Legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online (p20)
  • Implement the Digital Services Tax (p35)
  • Ensure that no one is put off from engaging in politics or standing in an election by threats, harassment or abuse, whether in person or online (p48)
  • Support international collaboration and exchange to ensure UK teams can recruit the skills and talent they need from abroad (p.40) • Increases in the science budget will be used to drive forward the development of technologies of critical importance to the UK (p.40)

Liberal Democrats

In this election, the Lib Dem messaging is almost solely focused on one thing: stopping Brexit at all costs. Yet, while they have neglected to mention their manifesto much, it is certainly as comprehensive as Labour’s in its policy detail, with particular focus on the use of data in government and business.

Points of note:

  • Convene a citizens’ assembly to determine when it is appropriate for the government to use algorithms in decision-making. (p19)
  • Introducing a kitemark for companies that meet the highest ethical standards in technology development. (p19)
  • Introducing a Lovelace Code of Ethics to ensure the use of personal data and artificial intelligence is unbiased. (p19)
  • Introduce a programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK with a focus on rural. (p17)
  • Develop a mechanism to allow the public to share in the profits made by tech companies in the use of their data. (p19)
  • Make algorithms used by the data companies available for close inspection by regulators acting for democratically elected governments, along with access for regulators to the programmers responsible for designing and operating them. (p83)
  • End the collection of communications data and internet connection records. (p74)
  • Introduce a programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK with a focus on rural. (p17)
  • Work towards radical real-time transparency for political advertising, donations and spending, including an easily-searchable public database of all online political adverts. (p83)
  • Make algorithms used by the data companies available for close inspection by regulators acting for democratically elected governments, along with access for regulators to the programmers responsible for designing and operating them (p83)
  • Review the need for any election safeguarding legislation that is needed to respond to emerging challenges of the internet age, such as foreign interference in elections. (p83)
  • 2bn investment to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the UK (p.68)
  • Investment in mobile data infrastructure to cover all homes (p.68)

SNP

As with the Lib Dems, the SNP’s overarching theme is the resistance to Brexit, though this is combined with an equally strong stance on demanding that the Scottish Parliament be given the power to hold a second independence referendum. Moreover, the aim of the SNP in this election is slightly different to the other main parties. They are not attempting to form the government in Westminster but maintain their position as the largest party in Scotland. In this regard, the policy details suggested in their manifesto can be seen as nods to where the SNP would lobby for and support legislation in Westminster. Equally, many of the policies suggested tie into their agenda in the Scottish Parliament, where the SNP form the Government. For SNP in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales and the DUP and Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, more comprehensive manifestos are released at the time of elections to the devolved legislatures.

The nitty-gritty:

  • Full fibre-broadband and 5G coverage across the UK with particular emphasis on rural areas (p25)
  • Tax incentives for the creative industries, particularly those who support diversity and inclusions (p25)
  • Develop online harms legislation to better protect children online (p28)
  • Make new standards and measures to be put in place so social media, gaming and technology organisations protect their users fully including having a statutory duty of care and mandatory obligations to tackle unsuitable content that can lead to self-harm and suicide, sexual exploitation, grooming, abuse and extremism. (p28)
  • Appoint a new independent Online Regulator with the ability to take action such as imposing heavy fines and blocking access to sites (p28)
  • Develop age verification for sites that are not suitable for children or have lower age limits, like the existing rules for films (p28)
  • Propose a duty on the UK Government to provide free and up-to-date expert resources to help protect people and support learning about online harm and abusive behaviour and how to report it (p28)
  • Introduce a levy on technology companies to fully fund the regulator and associated resources (p28)
  • Abolish all fees and penalties against skilled workers seeking to work in the UK (p44)
  • Continue freedom of movement (p44)
  • Continue calls for greater powers of devolution in all areas of legislation and taxation for Scotland to develop tailored policies for society and industry Scotland (p16)
Hear more from the DMA

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