If the main political parties are not talking about cyber security, what are the rest saying?

Opinion by Dan Raywood

Last week I looked at what the main three political parties were saying when it comes to technology and security spending in their manifestos.

Last week I looked at what the main three political parties were saying when it comes to technology and security spending in their manifestos.

The short answer is: not a lot. Yes there are plans by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to scrap identity cards, and the Lib Dems are proposing a ‘Freedom Bill' that will regulate CCTV, while the Conservatives propose the development of a National Security Strategy.

The Labour Party failed, in my opinion, to make any sweeping promises on privacy or security, but in its ‘50 steps to a future fair for all', number 47 proposes to ‘Use our international reach to build security and stability – combating terrorism and extremism, curbing proliferation, preventing and resolving conflict, and tackling climate change'.

However there is more than three parties in this country, and I felt it was my democratic duty to address the issues of the other parties. We have already looked at the manifesto of the privacy-centred The Pirate Party, and to start with the Green Party is proposing a ‘Bill of Civil Rights and Liberties' based on the National Council for Civil Liberties' Charter for Civil Rights and Liberties.

Its manifesto proposes the opposition of ID cards, as ‘they will not reduce or prevent crime'. It also said that it has ‘grave concerns over the development of a national dataset, including detailed biometric data, which has potential for the infringement of civil liberties'.

There is also a proposal that ‘citizens should be entitled to access to information held by government except where specifically restricted'.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) also oppose ID cards and the identity database, and claim that only convicted criminals should have DNA stored on a database. In a section titled ‘Freedom of the People' it states that ‘we will no longer be governed by an undemo­cratic and autocratic European Union or ruled by its unelected bureaucrats, commissioners, multiple presidents and judges'.

Sadly there is little coverage of technology or security, but considering that among its immigration policies it proposes that ‘entry for work will be on a time-limited work permit only' and ‘entry for non-work related purposes (e.g. holiday or study) will be on a temporary visa', it does throw some questions up about how foreign investment and franchises would succeed.

There is currently no manifesto available from the British National Party (BNP), but again it proposes to scrap ID cards and ensure that DNA from innocent people is not kept on record. Among its proposals on crime is the re-introduction of corporal punishment for petty criminals and vandals and anonymity will be granted to those accused of crimes until they are convicted.

This would throw questions up about the Gary McKinnon situation, and also if Britain were to have a Albert Gonzalez – whose name was known globally for months before he was sentenced, would he be anonymous, and would he be banned from social networking to avoid his details being spread?

The English Democrats, a new party for me, focus centrally on government and ‘English values', including celebrating St George's day as a National Holiday and ‘condemn the intolerant creed' of political correctness.

Point 2.13.7 under ‘the legal system' of the manifesto, claims that except in an emergency, there should be a single annual implementation date for new law to ‘help rectify the current muddled situation where no one can be sure, without considerable effort or expense, whether a clause of a new Act has been brought into force or not'.

Considering that the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through parliament in its closing hours, this proposal could have positive and negative results – it could ensure that efficient debate is given but that bills are still pushed through or left in a stack waiting for the key date. As technology moves so fast, can this be efficient?

Two points on, the English Democrats claim that they would extend the right of self-help, and ‘respect the right of victims of crime to defend themselves and their property against criminals'.

Unfortunately there was no direct reference to any relevant subjects by the Respect Party, the Workers Revolutionary Party or the Socialist Labour Party. Finally, and surprisingly with no mention of security, technology or law and order, the Monster Raving Loony party manifesto proposal number 37 claims that ‘as well as using computers in schools, children should be taught to read, write and appreciate rock'.

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