Labour trumpets open-source success

Summary:As part of ZDNet UK's Tech election 2010 series, the Labour Party explains how it would strengthen the UK tech industry and other tech policies with copyright owners, notify infringing subscribers and enable copyright owners to target legal action against the most persistent infringers.

Our proposals provide for consultation and full parliamentary scrutiny. We hope these measures will be sufficient to bring about the 70-percent reduction in unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing that is our aim. If they are not as effective as we expect, then — at least a year after the code for the initial obligations comes into effect — we will have the power to order ISPs to take further action, which may include bandwidth capping and — as a last resort for persistent offenders — temporary account suspension.

Suspension is a serious issue, so the identification process will have to be robust. There will be a range of safeguards. These include a clear and effective appeal mechanism, including appeal to a First-tier Tribunal. And no technical measure can be imposed on a subscriber until any appeal has fully run its course.

The bill contains separate powers to enable regulations to be introduced — after widespread consultation and with a high bar for the parliamentary approval — for a rights holder to apply for a court order to require ISPs to block websites with material which infringes the rights holder's copyright.

We understand that no UK ISP currently plans any deployment of Phorm. If one did consider it, the Information Commissioner would first need to satisfy himself that data protection regulations would not be breached.

What is your e-health policy and will it include contracting patient data out to third parties? How would you rescue the National Programme for IT (NPfIT)?
The National Programme for IT is a key building block of Labour's NHS reform. It is aimed at providing ubiquitous and effective IT systems and services that will enable patient and other service information to be used to reform the way the NHS operates and improve services and patient care.

Many of the programme's systems have been successfully delivered along with most of the key infrastructure. The new NHS broadband network and central databases are in place, as are Pacs systems and choose and book. All acute trusts and over 90 percent of primary care trusts in England, and all GPs, are using systems delivered as part of the National Programme. The NHS in England could not now function without the systems the programme has delivered.

The NHS in England could not now function without the systems the NPfIT has delivered.

We announced in December that the programme would identify savings of £600m over its remaining lifetime. These are intended to be achieved by reducing central costs by £200m, and £400m from local supplier future contract values.

We see the use of IT — and online delivery of services — as key to being able to deliver health and other public services more efficiently and to a higher standard.

Which major government IT projects would you drop or change, and why?
The Labour Party 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?
Labour takes information security extremely seriously, which is why the cabinet secretary's review of data handling introduced a series of tough new measures to keep personal data as safe as possible. This includes extra training for more than 400,000 civil servants and the encryption of data on thousands of laptops and other devices. We have ensured that government suppliers are aware of their responsibilities in protecting personal data that they may handle on behalf of government.

What is your policy on new or existing measures to protect the critical national infrastructure?
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has an important role. It runs CSIRTUK (the Combined Security Incident Response Team UK), which advises on protection of the UK's national infrastructure and how to manage the response to incidents.

Additionally, CPNI regularly provides threat-based protective security advice to UK companies in the critical national infrastructure, which includes protective measures aimed at reducing vulnerability to electronic attack. The majority of attacks are defeated by firewalls, up-to-date antivirus software and other 'good practice' security measures.

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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