The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA), the voice of the UK internet industry, gives its verdict on the three main political parties’ manifestos.
The UK is one of the most digitally active economies and the digital economy has grown significantly since 2010, all enabled by ISPA member’s continued investments and innovation. It is key that political parties recognise that the UK is fundamentally reliant on the communications sector and parties need an ambitious vision for growth of the communications sector.
- Overall, ISPA welcomes the parties’ recognition of the importance of broadband investment and continued support for superfast rollout. However all parties should be more ambitious and aim for ubiquitous superfast broadband, with targeted investment and incentives for a competitive private sector to continue to innovate and develop their networks.
- Whilst we welcome all main parties’ promises of affordable and widespread access to the Internet, ISPA cautions against commitments to treat broadband as a basic utility if this comes with unnecessary and burdensome regulations.
- As welcome as the broadband commitments are, given the importance of the communications sector, parties should also craft a vision around what this infrastructure could be used for.
Surveillance and communications data
- As expected, the Conservatives intend to introduce new legislation to give the security services more access to communications data with additional safeguards. Labour promise similar; the Liberal Democrats offer a different vision in setting stricter limits on surveillance.
- ISPA welcomes original thinking on Internet policy as seen in the Liberal Democrats Digital Bill of Rights, which puts more limits on surveillance and acknowledges that public confidence in the Internet risks being undermined by excessive obligations and underlines the importance of encryption many online services rely on.
- Whilst law enforcement should have reasonable access to data, this should only be after a rigorous parliamentary debate with input from industry and civil society that strengthens oversight and based on the grounds of proportionality and necessity.
- ISPA supports the principle of limiting underage access to adult content by website owners, however the Conservatives announcements on blocking and age verification leave a number of unanswered questions on implementation.
- The Liberal Democrats make a number of interesting proposals on content, such as safeguarding the freedom of the Internet, though questions remain over implementation. Labour have not set out policies for online content, and we call on them to share their overall vision for the sector.
- The UK is one of Europe’s most digitally-enabled societies and economies, therefore parties should follow a regulatory regime that works and follow policies that respect intermediary liability and support industry to continue to provide innovative services.
Responding to the manifestos, ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said “The UK internet industry is a success story and all parties need to be more ambitious and recognise the crucial role the internet plays in society and the economy. What industry needs from the next Government is an ambitious, clear and detailed vision for the Internet and communications sector.”
The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA UK) is the voice of the UK internet industry to Government, parliament, regulators, media and the public. For a list of members or other information about ISPA, please visit www.ISPA.org.uk or see the @ISPAUK twitter page.
The views expressed in this release are those of the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) and do not necessarily reflect the corporate policies of the individual companies that are members of the Association or other organisations that may be mentioned in the release. For further editorial information please contact the ISPA Press Office (020 3397 3308 or email@example.com).