Labour IT projects axed, tech spending cuts and an eye on cybercrime...
The Liberal Democrats were the last of the three main political parties to reveal how they would boost technology if elected to government with the release of their manifesto yesterday.
The key message was that a Lib Dem administration would axe many of the flagship IT projects of the previous Labour government, such as ID cards and the Intercept Modernisation Programme, in order to save billions of pounds of public money.
The proposals are:
According to the manifesto, a Liberal Democrat government would use public money to support the rollout of superfast broadband across the UK.
The Lib Dems told silicon.com it's vital that superfast broadband is made available across the country. However, the manifesto stops short of detailing the speed of a future superfast broadband network, how it would be delivered or specifying a timetable for when widespread access would be in place.
The manifesto says the Lib Dems would use government money to support superfast broadband, "targeted first at those areas which are least likely to be provided for by the market". This is most likely to be rural areas where the population is too low for telcos to recoup the money spent on new broadband infrastructure.
In a separate briefing the Lib Dems told silicon.com that the party supports the principle of the £6 annual tax on fixed landlines to fund the rollout of superfast broadband, which was proposed by the previous Labour government.
However the Lib Dems believe pensioners and the least well-off members of society should be exempt from having to pay the tax.
Big IT projects
The Lib Dems have pledged to scrap four major IT projects that were undertaken by the last Labour government: the ID cards scheme; the introduction of second-generation biometric passports; the Intercept Modernisation Programme (IMP) to log all telecoms traffic in the UK; and the child protection database ContactPoint.
The party estimates that over the next five years it could save £550m by scrapping ID cards, £1.8bn by scrapping second-generation biometric passports, £800m by scrapping the IMP and £190m by scrapping ContactPoint.
The Lib Dems are the only major party to pledge to ditch plans to start issuing second-generation passports in 2012. These passports would store scans of the holder's fingerprints on an embedded chip, alongside the photo and biographic details already stored on the first-generation biometric passports issued today.
The manifesto describes the IMP as "plans to store your email and internet records without good cause", ID cards and the ContactPoint database as "intrusive" and second-generation biometric passports as "unnecessary".
The manifesto also pledges to remove the DNA profiles of people arrested for, but not convicted of, a crime from the National DNA Database. Under current laws the details of a non-convicted person can be kept on the database for six years.