Labour wins tech policy poll

While Labour is rated the best of the bunch at an Internet World poll, industry remains unimpressed

While the tech industry rates Labour's manifesto e-commerce pledges above the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it has given it a vote of no-confidence for its digital policies overall.

In a virtual poll at Internet World UK 2001, Labour's manifesto was voted the best for tech policies, with 48 percent of the votes compared to the Tories (29 percent) and Liberal Democrats (23 percent). However, when asked whether current legislation has had a positive impact on e-commerce, 0 percent strongly agreed, with only 31 percent agreeing at all. Forty-four percent either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the question, and 25 percent didn't know.

Eighty percent thought that the UK was behind the US in take-up of e-commerce, 36 percent put the UK behind the rest of Europe and 32 percent behind Asia-Pacific.

The results reflect the mixed reception Labour's digital plans have met with from the industry. Most applauded Tony Blair's initial determination to put e-commerce and Internet access at the top of the political agenda and the response to the revised e-communications bill was generally favourable.

However, government determination to push through the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) bill -- which massively increases Internet snooping capabilities -- did not go down well with industry claiming it was prohibitively expensive and unworkable.

The latest industry debate -- about broadband access -- is viewed as a crucial one to ensure Britain becomes an e-commerce leader and again Labour has not won many allies for its refusal to admit there is a problem with rollout. The plan to put all government services online by 2005 has also been criticised for being target-obsessed rather than making real improvements in the relationship between state and citizens.

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