Greens, Pirates, UKIP and BNP weigh in on tech

Summary:In the fourth part of our Tech election 2010 series, the country's special-interest parties tell ZDNet UK about the tech strategies they would pursue if in power


What would your party do to promote and strengthen the UK technology industry?
UKIP did not answer this question.

What is your long-term strategy for the digital economy?
Digital infrastructure is now as important a component in an economy's growth and flexibility as traditional infrastructure — it is the 'fourth utility'. We believe Britain should have a world-class broadband infrastructure to remain competitive, and, importantly, that citizens are not excluded from the benefits of broadband, especially as government services move online.

We recognise the long-term goal for next-generation access is universal fibre-to-the-home, but we recognise the practical technical and economic challenges of achieving this and believe a patchwork of technologies including fibre, DSL, fixed and mobile wireless and satellite will be required as intermediate solutions to extend improved quality broadband access to all citizens.

Philosophically, we lean against state intervention. We believe much of the UK market, predominantly urban areas, can be served through private investment. However, we do recognise the significant economic barriers to entry which exist in the 'final third'. We believe there are many ways the government can assist the market: in particular, resolving continuing uncertainty over business rates on fibre and wireless, creating a regulatory framework which supports open-access passive infrastructure (ducts, poles, towers, etc), and establishing clarity and support within the planning system for NGA infrastructure deployment.


We lean against state intervention, and we believe much of the market, predominantly urban areas, can be served through private investment.

We oppose the 50p landline levy as a bizarre and self-defeating policy, and while the Conservative proposals for a 3.5 percent levy on the BBC licence fee beyond digital switchover is more rational, our proposals to empower local councils with more control over local taxation and powers to issue municipal bonds may be a suitable mechanism for local communities to intervene in the market if necessary, rather than central government. This would allow local communities to decide for themselves and pay for it themselves. This bottom-up, demand-driven approach to financing NGA is preferable, in our view, to the top-down approach outlined by the government via the Next Generation Fund/BDUK. In particular, we reject the notion this fund should exclude alternate technologies to fibre.

What role should technology play in government transparency and interaction with the public?
UKIP are firm believers that technology, particularly the internet, has enabled a shift away from pure representative democracy to participative democracy. The essence of democracy is government of, by and for the people, and harnessing technology to enable citizens to better become involved is an opportunity to be embraced.

For example, our policies for national and local referenda build on the Number 10 online petitions service to give teeth to public sentiment. UKIP is a strong supporter of using technology to empower citizens to engage in the democratic process outside of elections and to make government more accountable.

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?
UKIP supports efficiency in the public sector on behalf of taxpayers and supports using tools which deliver best value for the job. Open-source software has rapidly proven its competitive credentials against proprietary software, and we would welcome a shift away from more costly and inflexible proprietary contracts.

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.
We oppose the DEB, particularly in the light of the mad rush to get it passed and the lack of proper parliamentary scrutiny.

What is your e-health policy and will it include contracting patient data out to third parties?
We oppose the NHS Spine, and the way in which it is being implemented. Patient privacy is important and the creation of this database is in our mind deeply disturbing.


We oppose the NHS Spine, and the way in which it is being implemented. Patient privacy is important and the creation of this database is in our mind deeply disturbing.

Which major government IT projects would you drop or change, and why?
UKIP did not answer this question.

What measures would you put in place to ensure that businesses and organisations better protect their customers' data and inform customers of data breaches?
UKIP did not answer this question.

What is your policy on new or existing measures to protect the critical national infrastructure?
UKIP did not answer this question.

NEXT: The British National Party (BNP)

Topics: Government : UK


David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't be paying many bills. His early journalistic career was spent in general news, working behind the scenes for BBC radio and on-air as a newsreader for independent stations. David's main focus is on communications, of both... Full Bio

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