Conservative Party Technology Manifesto Launched

March 11, 2010

The Conservative Party Technology Manifesto includes a number of important commitments. It can be accessed here. While the aim of making Britain a leader in broadband speeds and moves to open up government will dominate the mainstream headlines, the Conservative Party Technology Manifesto will intrigue IT lawyers for a variety of reasons notwithstanding that it is only 6 pages (with quite a large font) and thus very much broadbrush. 

Outsourcing lawyers and those engaged in public procurement will focus on the promises to make information about government spending freely available (ie published online). Since the cut-off for central government expenditure is just £25,000 and for local government expenditure is to be £500, this promise will put an astonishing amount of information into the public domain that has, notwithstanding freedom of information, remained hard to access. The promise extends to the publication of every contract in full so it will be very hard to avoid suppliers’ commercially sensitive information being made available. Those advising suppliers and prospective suppliers to government will also be interested in seeking clarification of the proposed ‘immediate moratorium on planned IT procurement projects’ and will be intrigued by the promise to ‘reform the design and procurement process for government IT’. 

Those viewing the proposals from a data protection perspective may also pay close attention to the publication of contracting information. It does seem clear though that employment contracts are not contemplated to be within the open publication regime as there is a separate set of promises relating to the online publication of the remuneration packages of ‘public sector fat cats’ (including senior local authority staff earning over £60,000). That will protect most personal data that might otherwise be covered but concerns about personal data, and privacy, are bound to emerge. Indeed, some of the most attractive aspects of the ‘open data revolution’ might have data protection implications – such as the ‘monthly online publication of local crime data on a street-by-street basis’. 

Copyright lawyers will be unsure about the Manifesto recognition of ‘the need to tackle digital piracy and make it possible for people to buy and sell digital intellectual property online’ – the Manifesto goes on to say that ‘it is vital that any anti-piracy measures promote new business models rather than holding innovation back’. 

Legal publishers, and SMS publishers in general, will be excited by plans to create a new ‘Right to Government Data’.  

Consistent with the recognition of the open source model, the Technology Manifesto is published online using ISSUU.