Monthly Archives: April 2015

Upcoming seminar, School of Advanced Study: Legally navigating academic blogging and social media – 29 April

On Wednesday lunchtime, I’ll be giving a talk at the regular Social Scholar seminar, at the School of Advanced Study, on legal issues for academic bloggers and social media users (all welcome):

While social media tools are fantastically liberating for academic communication, users need to be aware of the legal and ethical context. Those trained in journalism or law will probably be aware of the most important media and communication-related laws, but my research suggests there are many bloggers and social media users who are uncertain about the boundaries of legitimate speech. What’s more, the complexity of UK media law (and high cost of resolving a civil dispute) makes it an uncertain environment for even the most experienced and legally astute. My contribution to the Social Scholar series will discuss the main legal issues for academic bloggers and social media users, point towards useful guides, and offer some thoughts on how legal resources and systems might be improved.

Details

  • Speaker: Dr Judith Townend (Director, Centre for Law and Information Policy, IALS/SAS)
  • Time: Wednesday 29 April 2015, 1pm-2pm
  • Location: Room 246 (Senate House, 2nd Floor)
  • All welcome! No prior registration needed. For full details see the Event Page

What do the party manifestos say about information and communication law and policy?

Back in February, Dr Daithí Mac Síthigh, Reader in Law at Newcastle Law School, offered us a review of ‘Computers and the Coalition’, a story of rollback, rebalancing, and re-regulation. While there were a number of new major initiatives, such as ‘open data’ and the Leveson Inquiry, he found there was ‘no major legislative project in this field during the lifetime of the Coalition’. In the next election period the things to watch out for, he suggested, are data and information (and the European General Data Protection Regulation), infrastructure, and the ‘sharing economy’. Finally, he reminded us that by amending the Communications Act 2003 through secondary legislation the Coalition government had avoided introducing a new Communications bill, as was originally expected; will the next Parliament be asked to consider the shape of a new Communications Act?

Now, with the publication of the major party manifestos, we are offered a glimpse into what might lie ahead for the further development of information law and policy in England and Wales*… Here are the relevant parts of the manifestos, specifically relating to data/information, media and communications law and policy (in alphabetical order) – I haven’t included wider provisions, such as support of technology development or the Conservatives’ proposal to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights, for example. If there’s anything I’ve missed, please comment below (my emphasis in bold, where the relevant bit is part of a wider point). I hope this will be a handy resource for Daithí when he comes to do his next review in a few years’ time!

*The SNP overall manifesto is not yet published so I have confined this review to England and Wales, using the manifestos of the political parties involved in the televised UK election debates.

Conservative Party

[full manifesto – PDF]

roll out universal broadband and better mobile phone connections, to ensure everyone is part of the digital economy. [p. 14]

We are investing £790 million extending superfast broadband to rural areas – with 2 million UK premises already connected and 40,000 being upgraded every week [p.15]

We will deliver faster internet, to help you work and communicate more easily… We will secure the delivery of superfast broadband in urban and rural areas to provide coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017, and we will ensure no one is left behind by subsidising the cost of installing superfast capable satellite services in the very hardest to reach areas… We will also release more spectrum from public sector use to allow greater private sector access. And we have set an ambition that ultrafast broadband should be available to nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable. [p.15]

We will boost mobile coverage, so you can stay connected… We will hold the mobile operators to their new legally binding agreement to ensure that 90 per cent of the UK landmass will have voice and SMS coverage by 2017. We will continue to invest in mobile infrastructure to deliver coverage for voice calls and text messages for the final 0.3 – 0.4 per cent of UK premises that do not currently have it. We will ensure that Britain seizes the chance to be a world leader in the development of 5G, playing a key role in defining industry standards. [p.15]

We will support the rural economy and strengthen local communities…We will provide rural Britain with near universal superfast broadband by the end of the next Parliament … [p.21]

We will continue to support local libraries… We will help public libraries to support local communities by providing free wi-fi. And we will assist them in embracing the digital age by working with them to ensure remote access to e-books, without charge and with appropriate compensation for authors that enhances the Public Lending Right scheme. [p.41]

We will support our media… A free media is the bedrock of an open society. We will deliver a comprehensive review of the BBC Royal Charter, ensuring it delivers value for money for the licence fee payer, while maintaining a world class service and supporting our creative industries. That is why we froze the BBC licence fee and will keep it frozen, pending Charter renewal. And we will continue to ‘top- slice’ the licence fee for digital infrastructure to support superfast broadband across the country. [p.42]

We will defend press freedom… We will continue to defend hard-won liberties and the operation of a free press. But alongside the media’s rights comes a clear responsibility, which is why we set up the public, judge-led Leveson Inquiry in response to the phone-hacking scandal, created a new watchdog by Royal Charter and legislated to toughen media libel laws. Because the work of the free press is so important we will offer explicit protection for the role of journalists via the British Bill of Rights and we will ban the police from accessing journalists’ phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other sources without prior judicial approval. Local newspapers are an important source of information for local communities and a vital part of a healthy democracy. To support them as they adapt to new technology and changing circumstances, we will consult on the introduction of a business rates relief for local newspapers in England. [p.42]

We will support our creative industries… The creative industries have become our fastest-growing economic sector, contributing nearly £77 billion to the UK economy – driven in part by the tax incentives for films, theatre, video games, animation and orchestras we introduced. Our support for the film industry has resulted in great British films and encouraged Hollywood’s finest to flock to the UK. We will continue these reliefs, with a tax credit for children’s television next year, and expand them when possible. We will protect intellectual property by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies. And we will build on progress made under our voluntary anti-piracy projects to warn internet users when they are breaching copyright. We will work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites. [p.42]

We have moved paperwork online. We have shone a bright light on government spending – requiring all central government spending over £25,000 to be published online. We have also ensured that people recieve [sic] a transparent breakdown of how their taxes are spent. [p.47]

Transparency has also been at the heart of our approach to government. Over the last five years, we have been open about government spending, provided access to taxpayer-funded research, pursued open data and helped establish the Open Government Partnership. We will continue to be the most transparent government in the world. [p.49]

We will save you time, hassle and money by moving more services online, while actively tackling digital exclusion. We will ensure digital assistance is always available for those who are not online, while rolling out cross-government technology platforms to cut costs and improve productivity – such as GOV.UK.[p.49]

 We will improve our response to cyber-crime with reforms to police training and an expansion in the number of volunteer ‘Cyber Specials’. [p.59]

We are developing a modern crime prevention strategy to address the key drivers of crime. We will publish standards, performance data and a ranking system for the security of smartphones and tablets, as well as online financial and retail services. [p.59]

We will keep up to date the ability of the police and security services to access communications data – the ‘who, where, when and how’ of a communication, but not its content. Our new communications data legislation will strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs, even as technology develops. We will maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content of suspects’ communications, while continuing to strengthen oversight of the use of these powers. [p.63]

Over 75,000 pieces of unlawful material have been taken down from the internet [p.63]

To restrict the harmful activities of extremist individuals, we will create new Extremism Disruption Orders. These new powers might, for instance, prevent those who are seeking to radicalise young British people online from using the internet or communicating via social media. We will develop a strategy to tackle the infiltration of extremists into our schools and public services. We will strengthen Ofcom’s role so that tough measures can be taken against channels that broadcast extremist content.

We will enable employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children. And we will take further measures to ensure colleges and universities do not give a platform to extremist speakers. [p.63]

We will continue to invest in our cyber defence capabilities [p.77]

Also of relevance:

  • Wifi and mobile access on trains [p. 41]
  • Creating the Cognitive Computing centre at Daresbury [p.11]
  • invest to ‘ensure the world-class defence assets and cyber-security industries of the South West benefit the local economy’ [p.11]
  • Support the creation of new jobs by ‘backing the East’s great strengths’, including high-tech businesses around Cambridge [p.13]

Green Party

[full manifesto PDF]

Information and digital rights … We live in the information age and we know that information is power. But how should information be controlled? What information should be available, and to whom? … The Green Party supports a world of open, freely flowing information. We don’t want disproportionate or unaccountable surveillance or censorship. We want a transparent state, but we want control over the data that our digital lives create. We need copyright laws that reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies. Above all we want democratic political control of this technology. We would consider combining elements of the policies below into a comprehensive Digital Bill of Rights. [p.61]

We would:

Oppose any case for secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden. We do accept that government law enforcement agencies may occasionally need to intercept communications in specific circumstances. Such specific surveillance should be proportionate, necessary, effective and within the rule of law, with independent judicial approval and genuine parliamentary oversight.

Replace the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, which has failed

to regulate the deployment of undercover police;

to support the confidentiality of journalistic sources;

to support legal confidentiality; and

to enshrine an open and effective right of redress.

Support and protect Internet freedom.

Follow human rights judgments limiting surveillance and data retention in full.

Support the EU’s proposals to strengthen data protection laws against opposition from large US data-driven companies.

Limit the censoring or takedown of content or activity to exceptional circumstances, clearly set out within a comprehensive legal framework.

Make copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible, and prevent patents applying to software.

Introduce a more satisfactory law on so-called malicious comments made on social media than the blanket and crude section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

Oppose the privatisation of data held by the government that should be open to all, such as the Postcode Address File, or by companies providing public services, such as data on the progress of buses that can be used by Smartphone apps to predict waiting times.

Oppose the sale of personal data, such as health or tax records, for commercial or other ends.

Use government purchasing power to support open standards in information technology. [p.61]

Media, sports and the arts … How politics is reported is vital for our democracy – active citizenship has to be informed citizenship. Public support for the arts is part of a civilised society. We would:

Tighten the rules on cross-media ownership and ensure that no individual or company owns more than 20% of a media market.

Support the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics and for the cross-party Royal Charter. But if this is not supported by all the major newspapers we will support legislation to implement the Leveson system of independent press self-regulation.

Maintain the BBC as the primary public service broadcaster, free of government interference, with funding guaranteed in real terms in statute to prevent government interference. [p.61]

Also of relevance:

  • Progressively introduce anonymised CVs so that Black and Minority Ethnic and female candidates are not excluded before the interview stage because of their identity.’ [p.26]
  • Listen to girls and young women about relationships education and about sexism in the media and make personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
  • ‘Take steps to tackle media sexism, starting with working with retailers to stop lads mags and other pornography from being sold in supermarkets and newsagents.’ [p.27]
  • Young people must be supported outside school as well as in it; online and offline. They need places they can call their own, where they can safely play and explore’. [p.28]
  • [On public health care / NHS] ‘Promote transparency by ending commercial confidentiality.’ [p. 31]
  • ‘Ensure that Companies House actually collects data due from companies and has accurate data on their beneficial ownership.’ [p. 48]

 Labour Party

 [full manifesto – PDF]

We will need to update our investigative laws to keep up with changing technology, strengthening both the powers available, and the safeguards that protect people’s privacy. This is why Labour argued for an independent review, currently being undertaken by David Anderson. We will strengthen the oversight of our intelligence agencies to make sure the public can continue to have confidence in the vital work that they do to keep us safe. [p.54]

We will further develop digital government to enable better communication, more collaboration, and sharing of data between services. It will make services and transactions more efficient and simpler for people to use. To create a more connected society we will support making digital government more inclusive, transparent and accountable. We will continue to back the principle of ‘open data by default’, releasing public sector performance data wherever possible. [p.62-63]

Our Freedom of Information laws have shone a light into the darker corners of government and are a crucial check on the power of the Executive. We will extend their scope so that public services run by large private companies are included. And we will repair the damage done by this Government to the vital safeguard offered by judicial review. [p.68]

The media The free flow of information and of different points of view is crucial for open debate and countering concentrations of unaccountable power. That is why the concentration of media power in too few hands is damaging to our democracy. No one media owner should be able to exert undue influence on public opinion and policy makers. No media company should have so much power that those who run it believe themselves above the rule of law.

Yet the current system for protecting against these threats is inadequate. Labour will take steps to protect the principle of media plurality, so that no media outlet can get too big, including updating our rules for the 21st century media environment.

We remain strongly committed to the implementation of the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. We expect the industry to establish a mechanism for independent self-regulation, which delivers proper redress for individuals, as set out in the Royal Charter, and agreed by all parties in Parliament. We made a promise to victims of the phone hacking scandal. We stand by that promise and will keep it.

Our system of public service broadcasting is one of Britain’s great strengths. The BBC makes a vital contribution to the richness of our cultural life, and we will ensure that it continues to do so while delivering value for money. We will also commit to keeping Channel 4 in public ownership, so it continues to produce vital public content. [p.68]

Labour will:

…create a statutory register of lobbyists

…implement the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry. [p.69]

Britain needs to be prepared to counter the threat of cyber-attacks. We have already called on the Government to require every company working with the Ministry of Defence, regardless of its size or the scale of its work, to sign up to a cyber-security charter. This would reduce the risk of hackers using small suppliers to break into the systems of major defence companies or the department itself. We will consult on creating a statutory requirement for all private companies, to report serious cyber-attacks threatening our national infrastructure. [p.78]

 Also of relevance:

  • And we will support community-based campaigns to reduce the proportion of citizens unable to use the internet and help those who need it to get the skills to make the most of digital technology.’ [p.20]
  • Labour will use digital technology in reforming our public services. People will be able to feed back on services quickly and simply, making sure their voices are heard, stimulating improvement and saving on the costs of service failure.’ [p.33]
  • ‘We will strengthen the law, banning the use of community resolutions as a response to domestic violence. The gun licensing regime will be tightened, so that people with a history of domestic or sexual violence will not be given an unrestricted license. And we will make changes to DNA retention, so that rape suspects have their DNA recorded and stored’. [p.53]
  • We will take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We will challenge prejudice before it grows, whether in schools, universities or on social media. And we will strengthen the law on disability, homophobic, and transphobic hate crime.’ [p.54]

Liberal Democrats

[full manifesto – PDF]

Securing global leadership in technology … The UK has a competitive advantage in key sectors of the modern economy that have the capacity to transform our lives. The UK’s digital sector is growing at a rate of over 10% a year, employing nearly 1.5m people. 15% of all new companies last year were digital companies. We need to support this important sector of our economy.

We will:

Complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK as well as small businesses in both rural and urban areas.

Build on the success of Tech City, Tech North and the Cambridge tech cluster with a network across the UK acting as incubators for technology companies.

Promote the take up of STEM subjects in schools, retain coding on the National Curriculum and encourage entrepreneurship at all levels.

Maintain and develop the award-winning Government Digital Service, and the principle of Digital by Default in public services, pressing ahead with plans to extend this to local government.

Continue to release government data sets that can facilitate economic growth in an open and accessible format, including on standards in public services. [p.35-37]

Pride in creativityProtect the independence of the BBC while ensuring the Licence Fee does not rise faster than inflation, maintain Channel4 in public ownership and protect the funding and editorial independence of Welsh language broadcasters.

Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses. [p.37]

Driving up standards in public services … Extend Freedom of Information laws to cover private companies delivering public services.

… Require the highest standards of data protection by public service providers, including requiring that where data is used for research purposes it must be anonymised wherever possible, and impose a moratorium on the creation of new government databases without Parliamentary authority.

A Record of Delivery:  Scrapped ID cards and blocked the so-called Snooper’s Charter that would have monitored everyone’s internet use

A Promise of More: Protect your privacy by updating data laws for the internet age with a Digital Bill of Rights

A Record of Delivery: Freedoms Act to cut intrusive CCTV, stop fingerprinting children in schools and stop aggressive wheel clamping

A Promise of More: A second Freedoms Act to protect free speech, stop heavy-handed policing and ban Mosquito devices that discriminate against young people. [p. 105]

Freedom of speech and the free press … As the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris showed, freedom of expression cannot be taken for granted. In an open society there can be no right ‘not to be offended’, which is why Liberal Democrats in government have strengthened the law to make it harder for prosecutions to be brought for using ‘insulting words’, and have led the way in protecting journalists’ sources under the 2000 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Yet censorship and self-censorship are still rife, and the threat of prosecution can have a chilling effect on the willingness of people to speak out against injustice and corruption. To change this and promote investigative journalism, we will:

Introduce statutory public interest defences for exceptional cases where journalists may need to break the law (such as RIPA, the 2010 Bribery Act, and the 1998 Computer Misuse Act) to expose corruption or other criminal acts.

Ensure judicial authorisation is required for the acquisition of communications data which might reveal journalists’ sources or other privileged communications, for any of the purposes allowed under RIPA; and allow journalists the opportunity to address the court before authorisation is granted, where this would not jeopardise the investigation.

Undertake a post-legislative review of the 2013 Defamation Act, which Liberal Democrats drove through Parliament, to ensure the new provisions are reducing the chill of libel threats.

Introduce, after consultation on the detail, the changes to the 1998 Data Protection Act recommended by Lord Justice Leveson to provide a fairer balance between personal privacy and the requirements of journalism, ensuring that the position of investigative journalists is safeguarded.

To promote the independence of the media from political influence we will remove Ministers from any role in appointments to the BBC Trust or the Board of Ofcom.

To guarantee press freedom, we will pass a British ‘First Amendment’ law, to require the authorities and the courts to have regard to the importance of a free media in a democratic society.

To nurture public interest journalism and protect the public from press abuse, we are committed to a system of accountability that is totally independent of both government and the newspaper industry, as set out in the Royal Charter on Press Regulation. [p. 110]

Policing and security service powers … establish in legislation that the police and intelligence agencies should not obtain data on UK residents from foreign governments that it would not be legal to obtain in the UK under UK law … Identify practical alternatives to the use of closed material procedures within the justice system, including the provisions of the 2013 Justice and Security Act, with the aim of restoring the principle of open justice. [p. 111]

Securing liberty online In the modern digital age, the power of the state and of corporate interests can threaten our privacy and liberty. We have achieved much in rolling back the over-mighty state – passing the first ever Protection of Freedoms Act to restore lost civil liberties, securing the ongoing root and branch review of RIPA and legislating for the creation of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board – but we cannot be complacent. There will be a complete overhaul of surveillance powers in 2016. We need to ensure this and other opportunities are seized as a chance to control excessive state power, and ensure that in an era when surveillance is easier than ever before, we maintain the right to privacy and free speech. Privacy should always be the norm for personal data, meaning surveillance must always be justified and proportionate and any demand to read private encrypted communications must be targeted and proportionate.

We will:

Pass a Digital Bill of Rights, to define and enshrine the digital rights of the citizen.

Safeguard the essential freedom of the internet and back net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all lawful content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.

Oppose the introduction of the so-called Snooper’s Charter. We blocked the draft Communications Data Bill and would do so again. Requiring companies to store a record of everyone’s internet activities for a year or to collect third-party communications data for non-business purposes is disproportionate and unacceptable, as is the blanket surveillance of our paper post.

Set stricter limits on surveillance and consider carefully the outcomes of the reviews we initiated on surveillance legislation by the Royal United Services Institute and the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation David Anderson QC. We are opposed to the blanket collection of UK residents’ personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies. Access to metadata, live content, or the stored content of personal communications must only take place without consent where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or to prevent threats to life.

Our Freedoms Act will:

Tighten the regulation of CCTV, with more powers for the Surveillance Camera Commissioner.

Extend the rules governing storage of DNA and fingerprints by public authorities to include all biometric data – like facial images.

Protect free speech by ensuring insulting words, jokes, and non-intentional acts, are not treated as criminal, and that social media communications are not treated more harshly than other media.

…. End the Ministerial veto on release of information under the Freedom of Information Act. [p. 114]

 Our Digital Bill of Rights will:

Enshrine the principle that everyone has the right to control their own personal data, and that everyone should be able to view, correct, and (where appropriate and proportionate) delete their personal data, wherever it is held.

Forbid any public body from collecting, storing or processing personal data without statutory authority, and require any such legislation to be regularly reviewed.

Give increased powers and resources for the Information Commissioner and introduce custodial sentences for egregious breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Ensure privacy is protected to the same extent in telecoms and online as in the offline world. Public authorities should only invade an individual’s privacy where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or where it is otherwise necessary and proportionate to do so in the public interest, and with appropriate oversight by the courts.

Ensure that privacy policies and terms and conditions of online services, including smartphone apps, must be clear, concise and easy for the user to understand.

Uphold the right of individuals, businesses and public bodies to use strong encryption to protect their privacy and security online.

Make it clear that online services have a duty to provide age-appropriate policies, guidance and support to the children and young people who use their services. [p.115]

Also of relevance:

  • [On consumer protection] ‘Continue and expand the midata project into new sectors, giving consumers the right to access data businesses hold on them in an open and reusable format‘. [p. 50]
  • Radically transform mental health services, extending the use of personal budgets, integrating care more fully with the rest of the NHS, introducing rigorous inspection and high-quality standards, comprehensive collection of data to monitor outcomes and waiting times and changing the way services are funded so they do not lose out in funding decisions in future.‘ [p. 71]
  • [On public services]: ‘Work to ensure the shift to Digital by Default for public services does not leave people behind, by upholding the highest standards of accessibility in digital services and maintaining government programmes on digital inclusion.’ [p. 109-110]
  • [On preventing crime] ‘Build on the success of crime maps to use data more effectively to reduce crime, working towards the publication of business-by- business data for crimes committed on commercial premises, and exploring the feasibility of mandatory reporting of fraud losses by individual credit and debit card providers.’ [p. 120]
  • [On access to justice] ‘Retain access to recoverable success fees and insurance premiums in asbestosis claims and where an individual is
suing the police; and also for both claimant and defendant in publication and data protection claims, except where one party is significantly better resourced than the other.’ [p. 124]
  • [On terrorism and security] ‘Ensure we continue to provide the appropriate resources to the police and intelligence agencies to meet the threat, including of cyber attack‘. [p. 125]
  • [On media plurality] ‘Protecting the space for democratic debate … We recognise the importance of a plural and diverse media, free from state influence or from monopolistic or dominant market control, in guaranteeing a vibrant national conversation. We will therefore reform the existing arrangements for safeguarding plurality in the media broadly in line with the recommendations of the 2014 Lords Communications Select Committee report… We will: Give lead responsibility to Ofcom and enable it to conduct reviews periodically, as well as when triggered by proposed mergers and acquisitions, and enable Ofcom to set down conditions to prevent the reach of any media company damaging the public interest….Ensure any conditions or requirements that Ofcom lays down following a plurality review can only be vetoed or interfered with by a Minister after a vote of both Houses of Parliament…Use a variety of measures to ensure that there is a vibrant local and ‘hyperlocal’ media to help inform citizens about their local area and their local politics, including:
    • Redirecting the current subsidies for ‘local TV’, which have failed to contribute significantly to cultural life.
    • Extending Ofcom’s community radio grant support to online hyperlocals, and allowing non-profit local media outlets to obtain charitable status where the public interest is being served.’ [p. 139]
  • [on Liberal values] …‘Continue to support free media and a free and open Internet around the world, championing the free flow of information … Maintain funding to BBC World Service, BBC Monitoring and the British Council’ … ‘The recent Islamist extremist attacks on journalists in Europe are a sharp reminder of the need to protect freedom of speech and belief internationally. We will appoint an Ambassador-level Champion for Freedom of Belief to drive British diplomatic efforts in this field, and we will campaign for the abolition of blasphemy, sedition, apostasy and criminal libel laws worldwide, having already been responsible for ending them in this country‘. [p. 153]

Plaid Cymru

[full manifesto in English- PDF]

Cyber-Defence Increasing reliance upon technology leaves countries open to attack by foreign powers without the need for conventional weapons. We will bolster cyber- security defence capabilities to increase security and prevent cyber-attacks. [p.33]

MediaWe will devolve broadcasting to Wales and implement recommendations on broadcasting made by Plaid Cymru to the Silk Commission. These include establishing a BBC Trust for Wales as part of a more federal BBC within the UK. Trustees would be appointed by the Welsh Government and the appointment process including public hearings held by the National Assembly for Wales. Responsibility for S4C, the world’s only Welsh language channel, would transfer to the National Assembly for Wales, as would the funding for the channel that is currently with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. We will ensure that S4C is adequately funded and that the channel maintains editorial independence. Again, the Welsh Government should appoint the board members of the S4C Authority following public hearings. We support establishing a new Welsh language multimedia service to operate online, on radio and other platforms, in order to reflect the needs of Welsh language audiences and improve current affairs coverage in Wales. Ofcom’s office in Wales should have greater powers, including the authority to take licensing decisions. The members of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Wales should be appointed by the Welsh Government. This would be best achieved by the federalisation of the work of Ofcom in a UK context. We will give local newspapers the status of ‘community assets’ so that owners could not close them without communities having the opportunity to keep their paper... It is important for there to be a plurality of opinions and information sources. We will oppose any reduction in Welsh produced news and non-news content in our media. [p.63]

Also of relevance:

  • [on healthcare] Plaid Cymru will work towards a paperless NHS that will save money and bureaucracy so that, within confidentiality rules, appropriate healthcare professionals can access records wherever in Wales you are being treated.
    … Plaid Cymru proposes a Medical Accountability Bill, including a 
duty of candour, so that healthcare professionals are legally bound to tell the truth to the patient and their family’. [p. 18]
  • [on education] ‘It is vital that our children understand the technology that surrounds them, through coding and advanced computer technology development lessons, such as the Raspberry Pi device.’ [p.22]
  • [Welsh language] ‘We will review any legislation which treats Welsh less favourably than English, with particular reference to those relating to major life events, including registration of births, weddings, same-sex partnerships, deaths and cremations We will ensure that bilingual certificates are available for births and deaths that take place in England to people normally resident in Wales’ [p. 53] … ‘We support establishing a new Welsh language multimediaservice to operate online, on radio and other platforms, in order to reflect the needs of Welsh language audiences and improve current affairs coverage in Wales‘ [p.54].

 UKIP

 [full manifesto – PDF]

[Crime] Invest in new technology such as communications equipment and personal CCTV to combat crime

Ensure Britain’s police forces comply with the law and do not retain booking photographs, fingerprints, DNA, or biometric data of individuals who have not been convicted of a crime [p. 54]

 Crime and sentencing… UKIP believes it is time for a review of what is and what is not a criminal offence and we will commit to such a review, together with a review of commensurate sentencing policy to address the changing nature of crime today. The emphasis of such a review is likely to be on up to date sentencing procedures and processes for internet/cyber crime, sexual crime relating to minors, fraud, aggression, intimidation, people trafficking and gang masters and drug & substance abuse. [p. 54]

DNA testing and retention of DNA data results will be reinstated for all convicted foreign criminals. This, in our view, is a major preventative step towards protecting UK citizens and our front-line security forces. We will amend the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 to enable the police to continue to keep samples from foreign suspects who are arrested but not charged in Britain. [p. 55]

Uphold freedom of speech within the law as a fundamental British value. We believe all ideas and beliefs should be open to discussion and scrutiny and we will challenge the ‘culture of offence’ as it risks shutting down free speech [p. 61]

Increasing intelligence capability … Currently, British intelligence is fragmented between a number of agencies, including MI5, MI6, GCHQ and BBC Monitoring. All have different funding streams and report to different government departments. This generates a significant overlap in work and resources and risks exposing gaps in the system.

UKIP will create a new over-arching role of Director of National Intelligence (subject to confirmation hearing by the relevant Commons Select Committee), who will be charged with reviewing UK intelligence and security, in order to ensure threats are identified, monitored and dealt with by the swiftest, most appropriate and legal means available. He or she will be responsible for bringing all intelligence services together; developing cyber security measures; cutting down on waste and encouraging information and resource sharing. [p.65]

Also of relevance:

  • Abolishing government departments when their essential powers and functions can be merged into other departments. Such departments will include the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Department for International Development, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’ [p. 7]To cut GP waiting times and allow GPs to spend more time actually seeing patients, UKIP will reduce the burden of data collection, target chasing, revalidation and appraisal work that interferes with the care GPs can give to patients’. [p.15]
  • ‘Big Brother ‘pay-as-you-go’ plans… UKIP opposes ‘pay-as-you-go’ road charging schemes and attempts to introduce them by stealth. From October 2015, the EU will require all new cars to be fitted with the ‘eCall’ system. Ostensibly a road safety measure, this system tracks vehicles using GPS and reports back to a central database. This capability would enable introduction of a Europe-wide road pricing system, on a miles travelled basis, which the EU Transport Commissioner is keen to introduce. We will scrap mandatory fitments of eCall and allow owners who already have eCall installed to disable it on their vehicles’. [p. 37]

Please get in touch, or comment below if I’ve missed anything else relating to information and communication law/policy …