Intelligence and security

Lib Dems propose new laws to protect online rights

LibDem Leader Nick Clegg with mini-laptop, smartphone and journalists on campaign bus. Image: @nick_clegg

LibDem Leader Nick Clegg with mini-laptop, smartphone and journalists on campaign bus. Image: @nick_clegg

The Liberal Democrats have announced plans to implement new laws to protect people’s online rights.

The proposed move strengthens data protection laws, and includes the threat of prison sentences for companies which illegally sell customer data.

The Digital Rights Bill would also give increased powers to the Information Commissioner.

It would include a code of practice for websites to correct defamatory or inaccurate information.

The Lib Dems say this would be balanced with measures to ensure free speech.

Leader Nick Clegg said of the bill:

Our Digital Bill of Rights will finally enshrine into law our rights as citizens of this country to privacy, to stop information about our lives being misused, and to protect our right to freedom of speech.

Nick Clegg online. Image: @nick_clegg

Nick Clegg online. Image: @nick_clegg

The plan includes enshrining in law the responsibility of the government to defend press freedom for professional journalists and ‘citizen journalists’ online.

Key measures in the Digital Rights Bill include:

  • Prison sentences for companies conducting large-scale data theft and illegally selling on personal data
  • Beefed up powers for the Information Commissioner to fine and enforce disciplinary action on government bodies if they breach data protection laws
  • Legal rights to compensation for consumers when companies make people sign up online to deliberately misleading and illegible terms & conditions
  • Code of Practice for online services who would by law have to correct information about members of the public where it is inaccurate or defamatory
  • Enshrining in law the responsibility of government to defend the free press, including the rights of journalists and citizen journalists to express their views freely online
  • Prevent government from watering down cyber-security and encryption measures used by British business

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