Conservative manifesto pledges ‘prosperity and security in a digital age’

A future Conservative government would punish “digital companies, social media platforms and content providers” which fail to take down content from the Internet which breaks the law, the party said in its manifesto published today. “We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law,” it said.

“The opportunities and threats arising from the advance of digital technology pose significant practical and philosophical challenges to people, communities and governments around the world,” says a chapter in the manifesto called Prosperity and security in a digital age. “These new technologies provide us with new and faster ways to communicate, learn, travel, have fun and do business. They accelerate the pace of change – ushering in new norms in the space of years rather than decades; challenging our laws and regulations to keep pace.”

The manifesto pledges to deliver:

  • The world’s most dynamic digital economy, “giving digital businesses access to the investment, skills and talent they need to succeed”;
  • Protections for people’s data online, backed by a new data protection law;
  • Safety for children online, and new rights to require social media companies to delete information about young people as they turn eighteen;
  • Digital government and public services, using data and digital technology to “transform school choice, local services and issues like planning and social care”;
  • New rules for the digital economy, underpinned by domestic regulation and international partnership;
  • Security online, with “unprecedented investment” in cyber security and stronger cyber standards for government and public services.

“The UK has always been at the forefront of such changes, from the earliest days of computing to the development of the World Wide Web. Today, we continue that tradition with our world-leading digital economy, boasting particular expertise in artificial intelligence, cyber security, gaming, FinTech, GovTech, and virtual reality,” says the manifesto (pdf).

“We are optimistic about the opportunities on offer in the digital age, but we understand these opportunities come with new challenges and threats – to our security, privacy, emotional well-being, mental health and the safety of our children. A Conservative government will respond to these challenges, to assure the British people of security and fairness in the new digital age, and to strengthen the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading digital economies.”