Liberal Democrats are calling for a new Digital Rights Bill to be introduced within the first six months of the next Parliament.
Parliamentary Candidate in Hammersmith, Millicent Scott says,
The ways in which we use the internet for social interaction, shopping, banking and browsing are changing at lightening speed. So are the ways in which people store and use our personal data. Our laws are not up to scratch and we urgently need to legislate to protect people from exploitation.
The Bill comes following a series of disturbing news reports ranging from thousands of NHS patients having their data sold off, and found to have breached data protection law by selling people's pension pot details.
It would also include prison sentences for public and private companies conducting large-scale data theft.
We have launched a public consultation on the planned Bill, which the party would introduce if we form a new coalition government after the election.
As technology has advanced, more and more people interact online. Whilst this has brought the UK enormous socio-economic benefits, it has also left people open to exploitation and misuse of their personal information by criminals, commercial interests, and public authorities.
The move to establish a Digital Bill of Rights follows years of attempts by Conservatives and Labour governments to erode the privacy and rights of citizens, businesses, and journalists as digital technology has evolved.
Key measures in the Digital Rights Bill include:
- Prison sentences for companies conducting large-scale data theft and illegally selling on personal data
- Beefed up powers for the Information Commissioner to fine and enforce disciplinary action on government bodies if they breach data protection laws
- Legal rights to compensation for consumers when companies make people sign up online to deliberately misleading and illegible terms & conditions
- Code of Practice for online services who would by law have to correct information about members of the public where it is inaccurate or defamatory
- Enshrining in law the responsibility of government to defend the free press, including the rights of journalists and citizen journalists to express their views freely online
- Prevent government from watering down cyber-security and encryption measures used by British business
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said:
Our Digital Rights Bill will finally enshrine into law our rights as citizens of this country to privacy, to stop information about us being abused online, and to protect our right to freedom of speech.
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