Be the future – 5 simple ways political parties can protect digital rights

No-one fully knows what a post-Brexit Britain will look like. At ORG, we’ve thought about how UK government surveillance operations might have to change. We’ve published briefings anticipating the impact on citizens’ online privacy and free speech. We’ve written to the PM to press for better no deal preparation ensuring the continued flow of personal data between the UK and the EU – essential for businesses, academic institutions and public services.

Digital often isn’t top of the agenda when it comes to UK political commitments. But given the immense power that technology and its deployment by both governments and private companies can have to control and subjugate ordinary citizens’ lives, this urgently needs to change.

In view of the ongoing political uncertainty, it’s increasingly likely that we’re heading to another general election – and soon. We at ORG want to make sure that post-Brexit our elected leaders build a future of digital rights for all. That’s why we’ve put together five core commitments that parties and/or candidates can make – to promise that if elected they will:

  1. Commit to maintaining high data protection and fundamental rights standards, including protecting net neutrality.

  1. Make the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) a true watchdog with teeth by increasing resourcing and empowering it to take enforcement action against non-compliant companies and organisations.

  1. Protect consumer rights and vulnerable groups by legislating to grant organisations representative power to defend their fundamental rights.

  1. Be transparent when negotiating international digital trade agreements and not commit to or sign any agreement that may undermine fundamental rights.

  1. Work with individuals and groups from across society to develop digital policy, modelling a new, inclusive and forward-looking way of doing open and collaborative government.

At ORG, we want Britain to capitalise on the potential of digital technology, while becoming fairer, more open and more inclusive. We hope that parties and candidates will take up these calls.