Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges to make technology more ethical


Today, the Liberal Democrats released their manifesto, promising to strengthen regulation of the IT sector and digital literacy throughout the UK.

The Lib Dems are also pledging to invest significantly in climate-friendly new technologies and infrastructure to help the UK address the challenges posed by the climate crisis.

We've taken a closer look at the key tech-related policies in the Liberal Democrats' manifesto.

Data privacy

Since the introduction of GDPR, data privacy has become a talking point beyond the IT sector. The Lib Dems have included a variety of policies in their 2019 manifesto related to data and how it is collected and use.

The party has pledged to develop a mechanism to allow the public to share in the profits made by tech companies using their data. This policy sits alongside the promise of introducing a "Lovelace Code of Ethics", designed to ensure the use of personal data and artificial intelligence is "unbiased, transparent and accurate, and respects privacy."

The Lib Dems also want to give the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation launched by the government in 2018 the power to recall products that appear to breach this code. This policy could greatly affect the likes of Amazon and Apple, who have recently been forced to admit that their smart devices were recording conversations without user consent.

Tech ethics

Alongside the promises relating to data ethics, the Liberal Democrats' manifesto outlines a number of policies relating to ethics within the technology sector more generally.

One relates to the concerns over how little taxation US tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook pay in the UK. The Lib Dems plan to close these loopholes by introducing anti-tax avoidance rules that ensure the tech giants pay their fair share, although details on how these will work in practice remain sparse.

The manifesto also pledges to ensure "new technology is developed and deployed ethically, so that it respects people’s fundamental rights." The plan to do this by introducing a kitemark for companies that meet the highest ethical standards in their development and use of tech, and by convening a citizens’ assembly to determine when governments can use algorithms in decision-making.

The Lib Dems will also require all products to include a short, clear version of their terms and conditions, setting out the key facts related to individuals' data and privacy. This is another policy that appears designed to clamp down on the ambiguities used by some big tech companies to convince customers to hand over more data than they'd perhaps otherwise be comfortable doing.

The Liberal Democrats also plan to invest in the country's security and intelligence services in response to the growing threat of cyber attacks and to create a new online Crime Agency to tackle illegal content and activity online, such as personal fraud, revenge porn and incitement to violence on social media.

Investment in green technologies

The climate crisis is another issue that has dominated headlines of late and it is becoming an increasingly important issue for many voters. The Lib Dems have set a target for net-zero emissions in the UK by 2045 and have also pledged to invest in renewable power so that at least 80 percent of the country's electricity is generated from renewables by 2030.

These targets can’t be achieved without developing new green technologies, and the Lib Dem manifesto is littered with promises to increase investment in climate-friendly infrastructure and technology and to create new green businesses and jobs.

The party has also pledged to double innovation spending and develop a national skills strategy for new key sectors such as zero-carbon technologies.

High-speed broadband

For those of you playing Election Manifesto Bingo, you can cross off "Ensure that all households and businesses have access to superfast broadband."

The Lib Dems have said they plan to invest £2 billion in "innovative solutions" to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the UK, alongside making an undisclosed amount of investment in mobile data infrastructure, expanding it to cover all homes.

They've also pledged to reform building standards to ensure that all new homes built from 2022 are designed to enable the use of smart technologies.


The topic of education has been a thorn in the side of the Liberal Democrats since the party broke its pledge to oppose increasing student tuition fees after joining David Cameron's Conservative-led coalition government in 2010. Before their manifesto was launched in full, the Lib Dems had already faced criticism from some around how effective its 'Digital Skills Wallet' might be.

The policy has made it to the final manifesto however, promising every UK adult £10,000 to spend on education throughout their lives. The party claims that this money can be used by adults who need to retrain and gain new skills if their jobs are affected by automation.

The Liberal Democrats also plan to establish a UK-wide target for digital literacy and to support the UK's diverse and inclusive tech sector by teaching core skills such as logic, verbal reasoning and creativity in schools.

This story, "Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges to make technology more ethical" was originally published by

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