Liberal Democrats propose new digital rights bill

As part of their election campaign, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce a bill of digital rights within the first six months of parliament if they are in power after the general election.

The proposal would enforce the civil and human rights that citizens have in the physical world in the digital world and also add new specific digital rights.

When announcing the proposal, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said “the way in which we work, socialise, buy products and use services has changed at lightning speed since the digital revolution.

However, government and politicians have responded at snail’s pace, with a poor understanding of new technology and the impact it is having on our lives.

We need to ensure that consumers, businesses, journalists and our children are protected in the online world.”

The bill includes provisions for the information commissioner to review companies that infringe data laws; increased legal protection for customers who are misled by companies’ terms and conditions and criminal legislation for companies that take customers’ data and sell it onto third-parties.

The proposals also include specific protection for journalists as it would ensure that the government defend a free press, particularly in a digital sphere.

The Liberal Democrats argue that the state should only have minimal regulatory involvement in ‘internet policing’, and surveillance or intervention “must only take place where it is clearly justified for the protection of the public and in accordance with the fundamental principles of necessity and proportionality”.

But in terms of security and protection, the state must “uphold and facilitate the strongest security standards online” and not “obstruct the availability of encryption technologies”.

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