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Labour Party Moves to Resuscitate Digital Britain Policy for 2015

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 (1:24 pm) - Score 2,276
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The British Labour Party appears to be starting its fight for the 2015 General Election early by launching a Digital Government review, which among other things will aim to update the relevant parts of their 2009 Digital Britain report that helped begin the national broadband roll-out strategy. But will broadband even play a part?

The original Digital Britain report covered everything from controversial measures for tackling copyright infringement (Digital Economy Act 2010) to fostering a Universal Service Commitment (USC), which aimed to make broadband speeds of 2Mbps available to everybody in the UK by 2012 (few viewed this as a feasible target for fixed line solutions and it was later delayed by several years under the current coalition government).

The 2009 report also talked about fostering faster Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies, although both this aspect and an explanation for how the USC could actually be delivered in such a short timescale were never fleshed out in time for the 2010 General Election.

But you know a general election is coming when political parties start adopting populist viewpoints on mass (more so than usual) and that appears to be the thinking behind Labour’s plan for a new-ish Digital Britain 2015 strategy.

Chi Onwurah MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said:

Labour’s Digital Government Review will set out clear goals for a digital agenda that will improve services and empower citizens whilst being efficient and cost effective.

Under the guidance of our Advisory Board and with contributions from a wide range of stakeholders across the country, the review will deliver a framework for transforming digital government together with concrete policy proposals to make digital services work for the many.”

Apparently this new review will look at how digital technology can improve both the effectiveness and efficiency of people-powered public services and develop a framework for powering digital government and “putting citizens in control of their relationship with Government, including their own data“.

On top of that an independent Advisory Board of “well-known and respected outside experts” has been setup to help shape the policy and the list includes some familiar names.

Labour’s Digital Britain 2015 Advisory Board

– Peter Ingram, the Managing Director of Touchstone Consulting Limited and previously CTO of Ofcom and BT Retail

– Stephen King, a partner at Omidyar Network

– Piers Linney, Co-CEO of the Cloud Service Provider, Outsourcery plc (also known as a Dragon on the BBC’s ‘Dragon’s Den’)

– William Perrin, the founder of ‘Talk About Local’

– Cho Oliver, the Director of Liquid Steel and previously CIO of European Oil Trading at BP

– Vicki Shotbolt, the founder and CEO of The Parent Zone

– Jeni Tennison, the Technical Director of the Open Data Institute

– Graham Walker, the CEO of Go ON UK

However we were surprised to find that broadband, which played such a huge role in the original report and so should do once again in this one (perhaps a policy to fix the final 5%?), doesn’t even get a clear mention in Chi Onwurah’s comment.

Certainly it would be nice if this time around they could offer a firm strategy to meet the EU’s primary Digital Agenda goal, which aims for everybody to be within reach of a 30Mbps+ broadband connection by 2020.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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