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UK's inconclusive election result leaves broadband, privacy in doubt

The UK's election result means that no party won overall. The incoming government will be a coalition but this has consequences for broadband proliferation and privacy matters.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Following what political commentators in the UK are calling one of the most exciting election battles in many years, the UK has a hung Parliament with no outright winner in its 'first past the post' system. The immediate impact on technology policy will not be significant but longer term, the proliferation of high speed broadband networks could be affected. According to an Ovum report:

While it is likely that all parties would maintain a universal service commitment of 2Mbps for all, the political commitment and funding for superfast broadband remains uncertain. The Conservatives have stated they would abandon Labour’s 50 pence levy on fixed (copper) lines in favor of an alternative source of funding. So far, they have touted a possible top slicing of the BBC’s revenues from the statutory license fee, but this is likely to be equally controversial and woefully inadequate in raising the funding required for such a commitment.

It seems likely that the Conservatives and Liberals will form some sort of coalition. If that's the case then broadband proliferation may well suffer. This is bad news for business and especially for the rapidly growing SaaS business applications market. In some parts of the UK, broadband has been delayed because of the need to renovate old telephone systems.

The larger question mark will come over debates around privacy. The EU has called for a 'data rights charter:'

Internet users should be able to demand that their information is removed from company systems even if it was collected with their consent, the European Parliament has said. The Parliament has also called for a charter of individuals' internet rights.

The Parliament has adopted a new digital strategy called 2015.eu which outlines its ambitions for internet policy for the next five years and beyond. It has passed a resolution adopting the plan and demanding that the European Commission make it work.

The agenda says that a charter of citizens' and consumers' rights should be implemented by 2012 and that the Cybercrime Convention should be ratified by 2015.

The Conservatives have been staunchly anti-EU. During the election battle, they repeated that position. Quite what the result of this election will mean for this topic is unknown. Given that the UK economy is in deep trouble, it seems unlikely that these issues will demand the attention that technology followers would like to see.

Image courtesy of the BBC

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