Labour Digital, a network formed by shadow business secretary Chuka Umanna and chaired by Lord Mitchell, has authored a report, Number One in Digital which makes 82 specific recommendations as to how the next government could and should maximise opportunities offered by the ongoing internet revolution.
The report takes on board a number of recommendations made in another report published earlier this year by think tank Policy Exchange, titled Technology Manifesto. In its report, Policy Exchange recommended that all of the UK’s citizens should have access to the internet by 2020. Number One in Digital proposes that the UK should target nationwide access to 1 Gbps broadband in homes, businesses and public buildings, with 10Gbps services for tech-clusters, ‘as early possible’ in the next parliament. It also recommends a nationwide programme to equip the entire UK population with basic online skills by 2020, as well as ways in which to increase free and wifi access to the internet in public spaces.
The report seeks to enable a greater flow of open data by proposing a new ‘data repository’ for local services that enables businesses and citizens to provide data to government. It also calls for the use of a standard format for all public data to enable access and direct comparison across departments and services, and says that public sector bodies should be required to audit and publish any non-personal datasets they hold.
It acknowledges the need for a legal and regulatory system for the collection, use and sharing of big data by recommending the establishment of a dedicated Advanced Analytics Team (AAT) within the Cabinet Office as well as an Independent Committee of Data Ethics, to be responsible for writing a Code for Responsible Analytics.
Data privacy is also addressed, with a call for greater transparency of the public data infrastructure, building in protection against privatisation of this data. It also suggests introducing a right for citizens to permanently delete personal and sensitive data they have provided to public websites, particularly social media.
The report also acknowledges current concerns around publicly owned data and proposes a publicity campaign to raise awareness of privacy and safety controls that already exist.