Party promises on Data Protection, FOI, Digital rights, Human Rights, Leveson and mass surveillance – Chris Pounder

21 04 2015

?????????At great risk to my mental health, I have extracted the relevant parts of the Party Manifestos.  Here they are without comment. URLs for each manifesto is at the end; address of my psychiatrist available on request.

Conservative

There is no explicit mention of data protection, freedom of information or privacy.

“The next Conservative Government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK”.

The Leveson report noted and no further implementation but

“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.”

National security :

“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”.

“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”.

Labour and Lib Dems say something similar.

Labour

There is no explicit mention of data protection.

“Thanks to the Human Rights Act, some of our most vulnerable citizens, including disabled people and victims of crime, have been given a powerful means of redress. The Conservatives want to leave the European Convention of Human Rights, and abolish the Human Rights Act. A Labour Government will stand up for citizens’ individual rights, protecting the Human Rights Act and reforming, rather than walking away from, the European Court of Human Rights. And we will make sure that access to legal representation, a cornerstone of our democracy, is not determined by personal wealth, but remains available to those that need it.

“We will further develop digital government to enable better communication, more collaboration, and sharing of data between services”.

“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”.

“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”. 

“With Labour, the security services will have the powers they need to disrupt and tackle terrorism. …. 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.”

Lib Dems

 “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”.

“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”

“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.”

“The Human Rights Act will remain, with children’s rights protected in law too. The culture of everyday sexism will be declining, with young people taught in school about respect in relationships and sexual consent. Online, people will no longer be worried that the government is monitoring their every keystroke: a Digital Bill of Rights will have enshrined enduring principles of privacy and helped keep the internet open”

“Protect the Human Rights Act and enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in UK law. We will take appropriate action to comply with decisions of UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights”

“Pass a new Freedoms Act, to protect citizens from excessive state powers.”

“Extend Freedom of Information laws to cover private companies delivering public services.”

“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”.

“We will:

Ensure proper oversight of the security services.

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.”

The Lib Dems will introduce a Digital Bill of Rights.

UKIP

No mention of data protection, Freedom of Information or Leveson.

“We will repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new British Bill of Rights. The interests of law-abiding citizens & victims will always take precedence over those of criminals”.

With respect to “Human Rights Legislation” we will be…

“Putting responsibility for law and order back into the hands of Parliament is key to UKIP’s approach to law and order, justice and internal security across the British Isles.

We will remove ourselves from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights: the Strasbourg Court whose interpretation of the European Convention of Human Rights has been known to put the rights of criminals above those of victims.

Our own Supreme Court will act as the final authority on matters of Human Rights. We will also repeal Labour’s Human Rights legislation. It has given European judges far too much power over British law making and law enforcement and prevented us deporting terrorists and career criminals and from implementing whole-life sentences.”

Our human rights will be enshrined in law via the introduction of a new, consolidated UK Bill of Rights. This will complement the UN Declaration of Human Rights and encapsulate all the human and civil rights that UK citizens have acquired under UK law since Magna Carta. This new UK Bill of Rights will apply across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Green Party

“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. “

“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”.

“We would consider combining elements of the policies below into a comprehensive Digital Bill of Rights.”

“We will 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.”

“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”.

SNP

Protecting personal data

We do not support Tory plans for the reintroduction of the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’, which would see all online activity of every person in the UK stored for a year. Instead, we need a proportionate response to extremism. That is why we will support targeted, and properly overseen, measures to identify suspected extremists and, if necessary, examine their online activity and communications.

Human Rights:

Given the central place of human rights in Scotland’s constitutional settlement, and their importance at the heart of our politics, we will oppose scrapping the Human Rights Act or withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Leveson:

The Scottish Parliament chose, on a cross party basis, to support the UK Government’s actions to implement Leveson. We will consider carefully the results of the first year review and work with other parties, in Scotland and at Westminster, to ensure effective regulation of the media on a non-political basis.

FOI: no statement of policy

The full manifestos are here:

Conservative:[pdf]

Labour [pdf]

Lib Dem: [pdf]

UKIP: [pdf]

Green [pdf]

SNP:[pdf]

This post originally appeared on the Hawktalk blog and is reproduced with permission and thanks.


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