In the run-up to the general election, ZDNet UK approached the Green Party, the Pirate Party, UKIP and the BNP to get an outline of their policies on issues related to the technology and the IT industry.
One of these smaller parties — the Pirates — has a very technology-focused manifesto. The others do not, but all three represent the UK in the European Parliament.
All the special-interest parties have provided answers that should be an aid in voters' decisions on 6 May. The interviews were all conducted before the passage of the Digital Economy Act into law.
THE GREEN PARTY
Q: What would your party do to promote and strengthen the UK technology industry?
A: One of the key policies of the Green Party is massive investment in renewable energy generation and other green technologies and infrastructure. This would not only reduce the UK's carbon output but also turn the UK's renewable energy industry into a world leader.
More generally, the Green Party believes science and technological research are part of people's natural curiosity about the world and so supports them. We also seek to end our economy's ever-increasing dependence on the financial services sector, and increasing our high-tech manufacturing base would be one way of doing this.
What is your long-term strategy for the digital economy?
A potential divide between the digital haves and have-nots is an issue which concerns the Green Party. Our key policy in this area would be ensuring all have digital access by obliging BT to provide affordable high-speed broadband-capable infrastructure to every household. We would seek to increase people's understanding of and participation in the digital world through more integrated science and technology education.
The Green Party believes science and technological research are part of people's natural curiosity about the world and so supports them.
The Green Party supports SMBs as part of our emphasis on a more localised, decentralised economy. Our planned network of local community banks would be able to provide affordable finance for small businesses wishing to establish an online presence.
What role should technology play in government transparency and interaction with the public?
Information on policy formulation, the conduct of public affairs, the environment and health and safety should all be freely available. Clearly, technology like the internet would have a large role to play in this.
What role should open-source software play in local and national government use, and what would you do to promote its use over that of proprietary software?
The Green Party has a policy to promote the voluntary use of the open-source model not just in government, and not just in software. Free and open-source software should always be used where it can be procured without significant extra costs or other detriments. The assessment should account for future upgrade and migration costs, and the risks associated with proprietary format and software lock-in.
How would you balance citizens' online privacy against protecting commercial interests? The cases of Phorm and the Digital Economy Bill's copyright clauses are relevant to this question.
The Green Party believes that citizens' rights and freedoms as consumers and producers of content have been harmed in recent years as policy has lent an imbalanced favour to narrow commercial interests. We would fight any proposals...