My digital pledges

After the passing of the Digital Economy Act last week and before the political parties each launch a manifesto next week, I wanted to ask your advice on my own Internet pledges.

I want to stand on a platform that is avowedly supportive of the generation that seek to use the Internet to make the world a better place. To do this I have to be able to draw authority from an electoral mandate from electors in West Bromwich East. So I’d like to produce a leaflet that sets out what I stand for. It will be delivered to as many homes in West Bromwich as my campaign team can manage. Friends will also help me get it out onto digital platforms for wider discussion as soon as the pledges are finalised. I only have a few days to do this.

It’s clear to me that the British political class as a whole (like others round the world) struggles with getting these principles right. I’ve had a stab here but I’d grateful for all honest attempts at improving them. It’s a healthy thing for Internet experts, like everyone else, to get into the habit of asking for what they want. You never know, you might end up getting it. That’s how politics works sometimes.

To give you the best chance of getting your ideas into me, I would appreciate comments to the pledges below both on this blog but also over on the uservoice site I have set up to help structure feedback a little.

As I say, we need to act fast so while I’ll leave comments open indefinitely, I am looking to create the initial list of pledges this week so ideas by the end Wednesday 14th April would be really appreciated.

My (draft) Digital Pledges

  1. I will support and campaign for more transparency in the public and private sector.
  2. I will oppose measures that unjustly deny people’s access to the Internet.
  3. Whilst noting the acknowledged limitations, I believe people have the right to free speech on the Internet.
  4. I will support all measures that allow people access to their personal data held by others. I further support restoration of control over how personal data is gathered, managed and shared to the individual.
  5. I will use my role as an MP to support international free expression movements.
  6. The Internet shall be built and operated openly and without discrimination.
  7. I will support all measures to bring non-personal public data into the public domain.
  8. I will support all proposals that lead to greater numbers joining the digital world and oppose measures that reduce it.
  9. I believe that copyright and software patent laws should be reformed to reflect the needs of citizens in the Internet age.

113 comments ↓

#1 Kieran Masterton on 04.11.10 at 4:09 pm

Some great stuff in there Tom. I think another important item for inclusion is protection and support for those creating innovative and potentially disruptive technologies in the UK. Would be great to see some fantastic digital technologies coming out of the UK.

#2 AndrewTindall on 04.11.10 at 4:10 pm

You probably need something about digital infrastructure in there. both your own party, and the tories have incredibly inadequate policy in that area. We need proper investment, and none of this calling 2Mbps “super-fast” BS that your party loves so much.

#3 Martin Pilkington on 04.11.10 at 4:10 pm

Hi Tom,

I’m not in your constituency, but something that would help with transparency is having all MP’s expenses and their public diaries put online. That way we can see what MPs are claiming for and who they are meeting and why (obviously not everything can be put in the public if it is something to do with national security but 99% of stuff should be).

I also think that pushing for proper enforcement of the Data Protection Act, and not allowing government or other public bodies to choose to exempt themselves from it would be of great benefit as well.

Anyway, hope your election campaign goes well. I’m not a huge fan of some of your party’s policies but watching the debate on the DE Act showed that there are many good MPs on all sides that need to be voted in again, you included.

#4 Jason on 04.11.10 at 4:11 pm

Not good enough Tom.

This is almost a list of things you should be doing as ‘a given’ where is the forward thinking? support for tech start ups? support for digital community hubs?

You want some ideas?

Government support and working directly with new start ups that need traction. What better way than the government to use their services if required?

Free online hot desks in central london for internet start ups, meeting spaces, freelancers, etc.

GET RID OF 8 MEG BROADBAND. This is pathetic, and not enough bandwidth for anyone in todays modern age. Push virgin and BT to launch their services for fibre optic faster, help them do that. Help online businesses work faster.

Online access throughout the London underground and on buses/overground FREE. Partner with someone, just do it, i’m sure 02, orange, vodafone or T-mobile would love the exposure.

#5 anaylo on 04.11.10 at 4:13 pm

I will work to encourage public bodies to provide staff with access to the range of modern internet based media – the first critical step in helping to realise everyone’s aspirations for forward-thinking public services, and outlined by the Government during the Spring.

#6 Dave Cole on 04.11.10 at 4:15 pm

I’m not sure if it would be generally understood, but something on net neutrality would be good, as would a specific opposition to ‘guilty until proven innocent’ web disconnections for filesharing.

Something on open source in the public sector would be good.

I would also, despite being a confirmed nerd, go for something saying that access to the internet should not be presumed. There are plenty of people in the UK who do not or cannot use the internet as effectively as others, and they shouldn’t be unduly excluded as a result.

On 7 and 8, are you sure you want to say ‘all’? I think it would be terrific if we followed Estonia, France, Finland and Greece in calling internet access a human right, but there may be some proposals that aren’t worth the cost.

Heads off to UserVoice…

On 9 – what reforms?

#7 Katy Bairstow on 04.11.10 at 4:15 pm

Apart from the need to tweak the use of “unjustly” which is a bit too wooly, I’d say that’s a pretty decent statement of intent.

It’s cheering to see a politian who is willing to put his position down in writing and be held accountable for his choices.

Good on you Tom!

#8 @Amrelee on 04.11.10 at 4:17 pm

Good luck with the pledges and with the Election. You have made some fair points with these and I for one would be willing and glad to help you publicise this finished list.

The Internet shall be built and operated openly and without discrimination. Is a great pledge but it needs reworded. I think this is what @timberners_lee had intended when he didn’t copy protect his software. If he had of things would be very different!

#9 Prizefighter on 04.11.10 at 4:18 pm

I’m happy that there’s at least one candidate who is supporting copyright and patient reform.
Good luck Tom!

#10 Ben O'Steen on 04.11.10 at 4:20 pm

One other aspect that your pledges don’t address is the issue of net neutrality – should ISPs be allowed to ‘package’ the internet?

(An example of what an internet tariff without safeguards on would look like: http://i7.tinypic.com/5z6vt4n.jpg)

#11 Mark Goodge on 04.11.10 at 4:21 pm

At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, can I refer you to my own blog post on the subject and my letter published in The Times:

http://mark.goodge.co.uk/musings/471/sharing-isnt-stealing/
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article7093520.ece

Copyright needs to be reformed to return it to its original principles. Over time, it’s become less about rights and more about restrictions. We need to reverse that process.

#12 Ian Hughes/epredator on 04.11.10 at 4:22 pm

This is a great set of pledges. I think it would be interesting to see if there is a way to look at some degree of electoral reform. Digital access has meant that everwhere is local. The way you were representing us all in #debill and effectively engaging with a much wider population appears to be a powerful change that politics needs to address.
We don’t just write to our own mp anymore
People support one anothers concerns and I think this will not be a passing fad.
We still cannot vote online, which would drastically increase turnout ( clearly there are lots of legal and constitutional complications here but it’s a good goal to have)
keep up the good work and thankyou.

#13 Simon Elliott on 04.11.10 at 4:22 pm

One area that the government needs to improve on is to stop forcing schools down one computer platform or the other. Schools need to be free to choose what is best for their kids.

BSF is often about what is cheapest and the Becta HomeAccess initiative mandated Windows and MS Office even though schools could have chosen OpenOffice and got to more children.

#14 Sean Rhodes on 04.11.10 at 4:29 pm

I fully support what you are doing, even though I have always been a lifelong non-labour supporter. Keep up the great work.
All of the pledges above are absolutely right and should be at the core of any manefesto in the digital age, attempting to censure freedom of speech and expression and to reduce transparency should be fought at every turn.
Hats off to you sir.

#15 Dave on 04.11.10 at 4:37 pm

I’d like to see more transparency between lobby groups/interested parties and MPs. I would be willing to bet Mandy’s meeting with Dreamworks co-founder David Geffin on a nice yaucht and the introduction of the DEB was not a coincidence.

Don’t know how realistic this is but I’d also like to see some actual research done on the supposed link between piracy and lost sales. I heard sums of £200mil, £400mil and £1bil being bounded around the Commons during the debate. Who came up with these figures? Independent research groups? No, the BPI. Certainly the £200mil figure, which was questionable at best.

To this date we have very scarce amounts of research on this subject and some of it even suggests that piracy results in increased sales!

Objective information would be a good thing, especially if we’re going to introduce BS draconian bills.

#16 Claire French on 04.11.10 at 4:42 pm

Nicely done. My MP didn’t bother to vote. Probably doesn’t know one end of a keyboard to another I expect.
Maybe you could have something about education young people about the Bill – under 16s download a lot of music (I used to anyway) and should know the consequences under the new law.

#17 Chris Skoyles on 04.11.10 at 4:46 pm

As Jason mentioned, a lot of this stuff should probably be a given, but since it doesn’t appear to be, this seems to be a good place to start.

You know what I like best about this pledge? It utilizes common sense. For that, I applaud you.

#18 joannejacobs.net » THE digitally engaged MP on 04.11.10 at 4:47 pm

[...] There are precious few MPs in the UK government who are aware of, and actively support digital inclusion and engagement.  But there’s really only one who genuinely engages: Tom Watson.  In his latest act of digital engagement, he has invited people to comment on and draft/amend his pledges for re-election. [...]

#19 steve on 04.11.10 at 4:51 pm

great starter list and i applaud your efforts to crowdsource more thinking

Education
– i would like to see a guaranteed minimum level of access to digital services and education from primary school level and upwards – access means connection speeds and time online per child
– how about making every school have an appointed digital champion on staff

having seen the appalling state of the digital knowledge in the HoC this week (present company excepted) i would suggest that some education of ministers (timms, bradshaw etc) is also essential

#20 Philip John on 04.11.10 at 4:56 pm

I’m concerned about the potential for ‘digital discrimination’ and it’s come the digital inclusion agenda which seems to be far too concerned with with quantative aspect of getting people online without considering whether it would actually have any qualitative impact. Another thing that annoys me is when services are only available online and I’m concerned Government is trying to do that which would actively discriminate those who aren’t or don’t want to be online.

#21 mcfedr on 04.11.10 at 4:58 pm

“I will oppose measures that unjustly deny people’s access to the Internet.”

how about one step further, oppose any measure that deny anybody’s access to the internet. There is NO valid situation to cut peoples access to the internet. There are existing places (ie courts) to deal with problems. If someone steals car, you either imprison them or fine them, you don’t ban them from roads.

#22 Tim Duckett on 04.11.10 at 5:04 pm

These are great starting points, and could have prevented a lot of the car-crash policies that we’ve seen in the last few years. There’s a few things that seem to be missing from my point of view – there’s a danger in making these kinds of lists too long, but it did strike me that there’s no overt mentions of:

– the role that open-source could play. That’s an area where the UK could compete – our home-grown software industry is never going to be able to go up against the US behemoths, but yet we continue to favour those suppliers time and time again when setting public sector-driven standards. Which is (sort-of) linked to the second omission:

– breaking the monopoly of the large – and repeatedly failing – consultancies on public sector IT projects. Until that happens, public sector IT will continue to fail to deliver, despite telephone number budgets and grandiose ambitions. If even a fraction of the money that’s been wasted on Child Support / Rural Payments / Connecting for Health / etc etc etc / systems had instead been invested in smaller-scale, human-sized efforts, we would have an utterly different e-government landscape, and probably an indigenous software industry to boot.

– a recognition that all too often, outsourcing of public sector IT has delivered a substandard service which prevents people even trying to do things in a more intelligent way. And that if we expect citizens to engage with government online, public servants need the tools to be able to engage with the public effectively.

The cynic in me starts to wonder how much headway you’ll make given how many of these run completely counter to the way that your party has chosen to do things over the last 13 years – but like you say, that’s how politics work sometimes.

Regardless of the party politics, you’ll get my support if you try to get these pledges adopted – these are things which should transcend party hackery.

#23 Richard Lord on 04.11.10 at 5:10 pm

Great list. A couple of items that I’d also be interested in.

First, it is currently very difficult to remove oneself from websites and associated databases after signing up for a service. Websites should be required to provide an easy mechanism to close one’s account and in so doing withdraw permission for using or even retaining one’s data. This may fall under the banner of your fourth pledge, and I consider it very important. I’ve even had the experience of websites telling me it’s not possible for me to close my account!

Second is reforming the management of large IT contracts in the public sector. Ideally, a move towards agile development techniques that ensure continued, incremental delivery of working software – just requiring these incremental deliveries in contracts and letting the contracted company figure out how they wish to do this would be a good start and may be all that’s needed. If this can’t be done and the old-fashioned waterfall development style is to be retained, companies should be penalised for not delivering on time, not paid more money because they haven’t finished the project yet.

#24 Jonathan Matthews on 04.11.10 at 5:14 pm

Sorry, Tom, I’m not seeing a particularly interesting set of pledges there.

1. Woopdedo. Put some *meat* on it!

2. Weasel word, unjustly. It means whatever the Govt of the day decides, whilst having proven themselves unbelievably technologically illiterate.

3. “acknowledged limitations”? ACK’d where? Otherwise, ok.

4&5 Meh. Sounds like something MPs should be doing anyway. Though I suppose the fact you’re having to explicitly state it is pretty worrying in itself.

6. “The Internet shall be built and operated openly and without discrimination.” Here Endeth The Lesson!
Seriously, put some meat on that too. Apart from using “should” instead of “shall”, what are you going to *do*?

7&8 Reasonable. Same as 4&5, though.

9. It’s nothing to do with “the internet age”, it’s about restricting the commercial/corporation/highly-sophisticated entities’ rights *because*they’re*not*people*.

The “internet age” has merely helped to highlight and bring to a head the realisation that rights are hideously one-sided, despite that being exactly what patents and limited-term copyright are supposed to avoid: allow the inventor to justifiably exploit their hard work for a period during which they’re protected by law; in return, they give up rights after that period ends. That’s what’s been lost.

#25 Andrew West on 04.11.10 at 5:27 pm

A 9 point plan and 20 comments and none of these mention a right to privacy online?

Surely this as such a fundamental thing that we should have a right to in this digital age, above all else.

#26 cyberdoyle on 04.11.10 at 5:57 pm

Great start Tom.
Having contributed to the digitalbritain debate (and been ignored) and having watched the entire debate about the debill in the Lords and the commons I am disgusted by the lack of knowledge amongst the halls of Westminster. I think one thing that could be added to your list is a determination to educate your peers…
Maybe an after school club to keep them out of the bar? Or even have a group in the bar where you can show them the wonders of the internet. Show them streetview. Show them skype. Show them how to google for any information they may need. Show them how to send and receive their own emails and click on links. Think how many dead trees it would save. Once they understand they will start to treat the internet with the respect it deserves instead of trying (and failing) to control IT.
Start with the dark lord.
He will go down in history as the most stupid and corrupt man this century.
Win em over Tom, you CANdo IT.
chris

#27 Richard Baron on 04.11.10 at 6:15 pm

Some commentators have suggested drawing clearer lines (“no denial of access” rather than “no unjust denial of access”, and the like). I agree with that approach. We must tie future governments down and leave them no room to argue that “Of course we accept that principle, but this is a special case in which there are very strong reasons to …”. I recommend two principles along these lines.

1. Parliament shall make no law abridging freedom of speech on the Internet.

2. No Internet site shall be blocked for any reason whatsoever.

The Internet is a fresh chance to take a stand for liberty. We should not pass up the opportunity, even if it means tying the hands of governments and stopping them from doing some genuinely useful things.

#28 Dan Fish on 04.11.10 at 6:49 pm

Looks pretty good. For me, the following would be winners

1) Open Source solutions should be the preferred solution for government IT procurement
2) Breaches of data security (ie leaving laptops on trains) within government depts should be dealt with “harshly”

I second the proposal on comment #22 “breaking the monopoly of the large – and repeatedly failing – consultancies on public sector IT projects”. Definitely needs to happen.

#29 Set Research Free | Influence and networks | Global Dashboard on 04.11.10 at 6:53 pm

[...] the moment, Tom Watson is canvassing suggestions for his Digital Manifesto for the upcoming British general election (he is standing for re-election in West Brom East). I [...]

#30 Paul Evans on 04.11.10 at 6:54 pm

Tom,

I’d no sooner pressed ‘send’ on this post before I saw yours:

http://nevertrustahippy.blogspot.com/2010/04/interactive-manifesto.html

WDYT?

#31 Ian Mayman on 04.11.10 at 7:20 pm

Imagine how much more interested in politics young people would be if all MPs had to communicate as openly as this 9as well as traditional) means. I hope party leaders are watching closely, but I doubt they are. It makes me wish I was in your constituency!

I agree with Martin who suggest a online public diary of your work, perhaps you could do it with Google Calendar or something else that people can subscribe to. It would also help people know in advance when and where you are available for meetings with them.

#32 Michael on 04.11.10 at 7:35 pm

Your pledges look generally OK but where are the measures by which you can demonstrate that you have actually done what you have pledged to do?

You may also wish to consider:
– Something about your own behaviour: leading by example for your fellow MPs, TW’s transparency, TW’s digital leadership
– Working to help all constituents/the public to know and understand the their real value (to them) of their own data and how to own and protect that valuable asset
– Ensuring that all constituents/public know how to access, evaluate and clean their data held on Public sector databases

#33 Fraser Rackham on 04.11.10 at 7:40 pm

Good starting point.

I disagree with some of the comments where people are focusing on how we can achieve these goals – as I understand it, this list is a pledge of intent rather than an action plan.

Number 3 needs tightening up, as Jonathan mentioned; if you’re referring to the issues around inciting hatred and/or illegal activity then state that…referring people elsewhere undermines what you’re saying.

Having said that, I do think leading on public sector acceptance of open source does need to be on there too. I’d also like to see the educational importance of digital literacy underlined. It’s somewhat covered by number 8, but it’s the cornerstone of all the issues you’ve raised.

#34 Mags Waterhouse on 04.11.10 at 7:44 pm

High speed internet access for all ! Trying to run a business with such low speed in a rural area is dreadful at times. And more wi-fi sites where people ‘on the road’ and ‘on the hoof’ can expect to be able to make connection. As far as I know there’s only MacDonalds who notably provide this (mobile phone access is difficult in rural areas). Go to any MacDonalds and you see lots of businessmen in their cars on laptops working. Some firms charge £5 for 30 mins – almost invariably want personal data to access wi-fi ! It inhibits business.
The big issue is broadband connection in rural communities – loading up files to send to clients can take 20 minutes ! Not good for business – in fact some clients go elsewhere. It isn’t a level-playing field ! No infrastructure of note in rural areas where business is being encouraged to develop.

#35 Sam Johnston on 04.11.10 at 8:10 pm

Here’s a dump of my recent tweets on the subject in reverse chronological order (@samj):

@tom_watson: for #10 it would be good to see something about law enforcement ala Digital Due Process http://digitaldueprocess.org/
@tom_watson: 9. trademarks are problematic too (just look at Twitter/Tweet/etc), not just copyrights & patents.
@tom_watson: I like 8 – bringing people on to the Internet rather than vice versa. Everyone should have easy access to Internet.
@tom_watson: not 100% sure what an “international free expression movement” is – maybe some more precision/examples?
@tom_watson: “The Internet shall be built and operated openly and without discrimination” is a big call but a useful goal (really a pledge?)
@tom_watson: bringing non-personal public data into public domain is useful (but is that really PD or rather public but crown copyright?)
@tom_watson: “I will support all measures that allow people access to and control over their personal data held by others.”
@tom_watson: 3. free speech on Internet should be *at least* equivalent to meatspace, “acknowledged limitations” is a big loophole.
@tom_watson: so drop “unjustly” – we don’t cut off people’s power & water because they “misbehave” – should be same for internet.
@tom_watson: it’s increasingly difficult to function (apply for jobs, deal with gov, communicate) without the Internet. #humanrights
@tom_watson: perhaps be a bit more specific re “more transparency in the public and private sector” eg #debill, #acta

#36 Jamie Dowling on 04.11.10 at 8:10 pm

A promising start. I would like to see a statement specifically against the non-judicial use of DPI technology. I’m talking about so-called “behavioural targeting” for advertising, as embodied by Phorm (about whom I have written plenty on my blog). Those involved in the illegal tests carried out by BT with Phorm have not been held to account in court. The police, CPS, government and ICO have all failed in their duty to protect peoples’ private information.

The ICO has previously admitted that it does not count among its staff any information security or computer science graduates. How then can it be fit for purpose? You need a clear statement that you will work for an ICO that has teeth (custodial sentences for breaches of the UK & EU data protection laws) and isn’t afraid to use them.

The Digital Economy Bill farce has highlighted what I told the APComms Inquiry last year: that all future governmental deliberations and dealings with technical issues are done so with a sizeable presence of and critical input from independent experts who are clearly seen to have no connections with companies or bodies involved in those issues.

The Digital Economy Bill oozes vested interests in every stage of its conception and implementation.

I salute you for having the cojones to speak out on this issue when the majority of Parliament has done nothing to oppose the Bill. It is time to educate the less knowledgeable of our politicians; there are far too many of them.

#37 Tom on 04.11.10 at 8:17 pm

Thanks all for your speedy and considered comments. My general point is that I’m trying to establish a simple set of principles that I can apply, as best I can, when contending with the legislative agenda in the next parliament (if I’m re-elected).

There are some great ideas in that list that would be an expression of those principles and I’ll try and use them.

A few specific points:
Martin: What government departments are excluded from Data Protection Laws? I wasn’t aware of that.
Katy – Good point, well made. Will work into the final list.
Dave and Bev: I’d try to use a phrase that would be understood by the non-techy recipient of the list. Clearly “discrimination” doesn’t work. Will try and amend the list to make my commitment clear.
Simon – School computers. Don’t get me going on this. I agree with you though!
Steve – I want to teach kids to code not use Microsoft Word.
Richard and Tim – Open source and support for small businesses is a glaring omission. Thanks for the prompt. I’ll get something in.
Andrew – Privacy. Hmm. Will think about that.
Michael – Your comment tickled me. It’s like you’re looking for the betrayal before the contract is even drafted ;-)
Jason and Jonathan – Ah well. Sorry if I can’t do right for doing wrong.

Thanks once again for your commitment and support on this. It really does mean a great deal.

#38 Jen on 04.11.10 at 8:24 pm

“I will support all proposals that lead to greater numbers joining the digital world and oppose measures that reduce it” needs strengthening over improving access for marginalised and vulnerable people.

I also strongly support the suggestions above about increasing the use of open source software and examining what could and should be done about online privacy. (Note that one provision of the ID card legislation is that we may each only use one name — so no pseudonyms on the web.)

signed Jen Smith (or maybe not)

#39 Carmine Del Guercio on 04.11.10 at 8:34 pm

Additional to Andrew, privacy online should be a major point. Even if its only teaching people about encryption, such as PGP, Hard Drive encryption, Digital Signing, etc. Ideally it should be taught early in school in computer lessons and in maths via algorithms so we increase the influx of graduates to that sector. Adults also need to learn about it too, especially with what people put online now.

If kids find it boring get around it by getting them used to it in primary schools. With ceaser cyphers and ROT cyphers as a game!

#40 Moniker42 on 04.11.10 at 9:13 pm

Use of open source software in education and the public sector is certainly a good ‘un.

In particular, I wonder how many millions are spent each year on Microsoft Office licenses for which there are very good open-source alternatives.

Second reason for teaching with OSS (other than cost to the public purse) is that students learning on Adobe and Microsoft products in school then expect to have these products available when they go on to work in small (or large) business, and companies have to provide this.

#41 Alex on 04.11.10 at 10:33 pm

Should also have: Use of open formats for public data, and for where the public has to interact with government. (Not quite the same as use of open source, although they interact).

#42 Simon Phipps on 04.11.10 at 10:54 pm

More than just plain “privacy”, I’m very concerned about surveillance that results from mission creep (like the London congestion charge cameras being used to track cars by the police, or terrorism laws being used by councils to justify policing wheelie bin use with RFID).

It usually involves triangulation – use of data from context A to discern meaning from context B. I’d like to see a commitment to all uses of data by government and its agents being openly documented as a way to address this by the application of transparency.

#43 andrew c. oliver on 04.11.10 at 11:45 pm

I think a more clearly worded stance against the impractical software patents is called for. Software is not physical and cannot and patents on it have never been clearly vetted by any patent office. They end up being used as a kind of mafia-like protection scheme by small outfits consisting of mostly lawyers and large outfits wishing to restrict access to the market. They are clearly a barrier to innovation and against the public interest.

Andrew C. Oliver
Board Member
Open Source Initiative
http://opensource.org

#44 Casio Digital Piano | on 04.12.10 at 5:47 am

[...] My digital pledges | Tom Watson [...]

#45 naesk on 04.12.10 at 6:36 am

Tom, good to see an MP who is in touch & active in the digital community. Great selection of pledges, Open Source & Open Formats are a must.

#46 Paul Nash on 04.12.10 at 8:00 am

I agree with your principle themes here Tom. It’s also worth considering that the Internet is not just about the right to access or the capacity to receive but it has the potential to empower, both individuals and communities, which in turn creates the ability for people to give back and to be innovative.

#47 nicholas butler on 04.12.10 at 8:04 am

Tom. I applaud your efforts and stance on this. as you invte more people in I suspect the language will tend to wards the overtly bland or possible overtly technical since in the arena of the Digital it is hard, though not impossible, to be both exact and clear.

For example; Transparency is a word that should make sense but in reality transparency is a two way effect. Transparency sounds like a clear message but like the debill before it, it does not simply state what it requires. I am still considering what meaning we are seeking from the use of it.

Keeping the manifesto simple along the lines of

Information about A person belongs to The person.
A Person should be granted the right to decide how their information is stored and shared.
Commercial use of a persons information that creates value should be shared with that individual.

Or maybe I too am going off on one.

Keep up the Good fight you would have my vote if I wasnt buried in Francis Maudes constituency.

#48 Dubber on 04.12.10 at 8:08 am

This is really encouraging. Thanks, Tom. I’ll be lobbying my own MP to take a leaf out of your book.

One of the things that I think needs clarification when discussing these things with people who aren’t as internet savvy as yourself (and we tend to forget this) is the fact that the internet is not merely a marketplace. It’s a means of communication. Human beings talking to each other.

I know this is embodied within what you have written, but sometimes it really needs to be restated. The reason that corporate interests should not be allowed to interfere, throttle, intercept or block our online activity is the same reason they’re not allowed to tap our phones or read our letters.

Keep up the great work.

#49 Matt Moran on 04.12.10 at 8:11 am

Tom,

There’s a need to recognise that copyright & creativity aren’t always hand in hand & that it’s a fallacy that people will not create good things if they’re not paid to do so. Have you watched the Youtube video about the Amen Break? It’s 20 minutes long, but it’s something of an eye-opener. Essentially, 90% of dance music since 1980 is based on or makes use of a drum break lifted from a 1960’s R&B B-side by The Winstons called “Amen Brother”. If The Winstons had enforced their copyright, which they’re still entitled to do, most of what the BPI & RIAA distribute would be illegal, and wouldn’t have happened. We’re talking hip-hop, drum & bass, trance, rave music, house – most of this creative work would never have happened, had the Winstons insisted on the royalties the RIAA & BPI would charge on their behalf.

Linux & BSD Unix wouldn’t have happened if nobody ever creates anything good unless paid to do so. Most of what runs on these OSes wouldn’t have been written either. This doesn’t mean that people *shouldn’t* be paid for what they contribute, but limiting what can be done with created works by default is more harmful in the long run. The clauses in the DEAct about Orphan Works essentially mean that if something is created, unless you copyright it & vociferously defend it, your IP becomes the property of the quango the govt are going to appoint to administer these orphan works.

Does UK Law currently respect the Creative Commons license & the GPL?

#50 Tom Watson MP’s Digital Pledges : John Connell: The Blog on 04.12.10 at 8:11 am

[...] Watson MP, who led the assault on the ill-advised Digital Economy Bill, has drafted a set of ‘digital pledges’ for his own election campaign in West Bromwich East. He is seeking comments and ideas on the [...]

#51 Naomi Jacobs on 04.12.10 at 8:15 am

Fantastic, Tom. Support for more open copyright (e.g. creative commons licences?) is a great thing.

#52 Mark Johnson on 04.12.10 at 8:18 am

I agree with your list of pledges. They cover all the bases I hoped they would. However, I think the wording should be more consistent. For example, some of the pledges state your support for a principle (e.g. “…*I believe* people have the right to free speech on the Internet.”) while others are much more affirmative (“The Internet *shall* be built and operated openly and without discrimination.”)

I think that the wording should be changed so that they are all voiced in the same style.

#53 tomatosquid on 04.12.10 at 8:29 am

There are lots of obligations under current legislation, but no sense of counterbalancing rights. I think we need some basic rights to protect lawful communication and creativity and to ensure that application of the law is always proportionate in terms of their impact on freedom of speech, beneficial activity and innovation. It would make sense to have common principles covering all legislation involving data and communication:

e.g., Libel, Data Protection, Freedom of Information, and Digital Economy.

All have similar problems in terms of balancing freedoms and obligations in the digital age.

http://tomatosquid.posterous.com/on-digital-reform

#54 Pontus on 04.12.10 at 8:49 am

Great stuff. I’d like to echo the call for privacy to be included. Absolutely fundamental.

Reforming patents should be in there too.

#55 Peter Tomlinson on 04.12.10 at 9:06 am

@36 Jamie’s comment “The ICO has previously admitted that it does not count among its staff any information security or computer science graduates. How then can it be fit for purpose?” is a trigger into an area sorely neglected. The ICO isn’t about how showing how to design a web site or service, its about kicking you if you get it wrong. The need is for a commitment to best practice design and management, along with penetration testing and quality assessment, something that was built in to the 2003/4 Information Assurance Cabinet Office policy that disappeared. And the starting point is setting Infosec and Quality Standards as ‘must do’ right through the civil service. See Ms Jenkins evidence to the Public Admin Committee http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmpubadm/c983-i/c98301.htm
And my written evidence to that same Good Government enquiry (8th report 2008-9).

#56 PaulG on 04.12.10 at 9:38 am

Your local target audience should be everyone, sure enough – but uniquely in your case, you have the potential to draw upon, communicate and appeal to a far younger audience than is the norm, and some first time voters.

Your equivalent of door knocking and baby kissing will be Facebook activity and Tweets, no?

I estimate that you will have to take a stance on mobile.

Where will mobile be at the end of the next parliament?

Consider what you need to do to make sure that your constituents mobile rights are enhanced and fully protected.

Will a large % of your constituents primary mode of communication be their mobile phone? and accessing public services via a phone could be a right – it just needs to be couched in terms that appeals to younger people today – as a 140 character sms.

I hear what previous posters say about OSS but to the majority of the electorate they will only some woolly notion of “free stuff”.

Concentrate on what the “free stuff” will equate to on their future mobile phone, you will make all gov data freely available on mobile via the apple or android platforms.

#57 Martin Pilkington on 04.12.10 at 10:25 am

I can’t remember the specifics unfortunately, I just remember a news story from (I think) last year about the government waiving data protection laws for some reason other than national security. Of course there is the fact that there have been few, if any, prosecutions against government departments after data loss, which highlighted areas of breaking the DPA

#58 Hamish Campbell on 04.12.10 at 10:48 am

“Once more it’s clear that we need an ecosystem built on a platform that no one owns. Corporate ownership of platforms is a slippery slope that leads to a swamp. If the client developers were courageous we could have it right now. So far they have not been, and there’s little reason to believe they will grow new courage in the future.” Dave Winer

http://www.scripting.com/stories/2010/04/12/goodMorningSportsFans.html

#59 Tom Watson’s Digital Pledges « The Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age on 04.12.10 at 11:15 am

[...] Tom Watson’s Digital Pledges 12 04 2010 Tom Watson, the darling of the tech crowd after breaking ranks to vote against the Digital Economy Bill,  has produced a draft of digital pledges: [...]

#60 Tim Ireland on 04.12.10 at 11:19 am

1. I would argue for some mention of libel reform to address the inequalities that hamper local ISPs and restrict the freedom of anyone who hosts a website with them:
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2008/05/uk_libel_law_th.asp

2. I think it’s worth pointing out that if this discussion were hosted on the ‘blog’ of Jeremy Hunt, that the post and all comments under it would be deleted after a month. Your approach and his couldn’t be more different; one of you actually cares about and consults with the online community, while the other only play-acts at engagement (and this doesn’t apply only to #debill/#deact):
http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2010/03/jeremy_hunt.asp

#61 I’d vote for that. Tom Watson’s digital pledges | johninnit on 04.12.10 at 12:23 pm

[...] Watson MP is using his blog and Uservoice.com to work up a kind of digital manifesto – getting down in black and white a [...]

#62 phayes on 04.12.10 at 1:48 pm

Re: 9. Copyright and patent law and practise were going horribly wrong (long) before the Internet age. Unless and until politicians begin to take an entirely different approach (well-informed and evidence based rather than ill-informed and interest group based) in these and other areas of policy making, the situation is not likely to improve. I think an intellectual property and innovation economics policy select committee of the calibre of the science and technology select committee (as exhibited especially well in its recent treatment of homeopathy) would be a good start. :)

#63 Jonathan Matthews on 04.12.10 at 2:15 pm

“Jonathan – Ah well. Sorry if I can’t do right for doing wrong. ”

Tom –

It obviously *didn’t* go without saying in my first comment that you’re to be commended both for bothering to make some pledges in this area and for engaging with us to help shape them :-) Thanks for the effort, and good luck!

#64 Notin Yourconstituancy on 04.12.10 at 5:05 pm

Great stuff, Tom.

I’m sadly not in your area but keep up the good work.

#65 Sam P on 04.12.10 at 7:36 pm

1. You should also say that you will reject the 50p broadband tax, if people want to live in the countryside then they will have to pay for the building works to get broadband to them.
2. You should get the govt to stop censoring the internet, govt public wifi spots like train stations block websites like infowars.com
3. You should force ISP’s to state their bandwidth limits, “unlimited” isn’t that as they have fair use policies.
4. You should stop mobile companies and other companies you make contracts with requiring a signed letter to end contracts, especially as alot of us order phones online without a signature therefore they have no way of even verifying the signature, its done to reduce the chance of them ending their contracts.
5. You should revoke the law stopping us photographing security services as police are abusing this.
6. You should reword the breach of the peace act to stop police abusing it by try to stop people protesting by saying they are upsetting people or breaching the peace.
7. revoke the terrorism act, they stop people to cameras and videocameras from filming in shopping centres or any govt buildings as seen in the Love Police videos on youtube.
8. Encourage schools to start using OpenOffice instead of Microsoft office, we pay MS way too much!
9. Force net neutrality, ISP’s should be able to throttle torrents or any other type of broadband use, many torrents are legit.
10. Stop ISP’s from throttling us and force isp’s to give us tiers without download caps, i only get 5mb instead of 20mb from virgin after i’ve downloaded 3.5gb.
11. Stop ISP’s from changing their terms of conditions during contracts, we can’t break our contracts so neither should they, they should give people a get out of contract clause if they change throttling, bandwidth caps etc for the worse.
12. Ban DRM and allow 1 backup of and movie/game/software someone owns and if the copy becomes damaged they can copy it again etc. Disney dvd’s cost alot, kids scratch them, we shouldn’t have to pay twice when we can pay 12p for a dvd-r.
13. Stop the DRM that the BBC is trying to get with Freeview HD
14. Force ofcom to tell sky to allow their hd movie and sports channels on virgin and other platforms
15. revoke the antipiracy bill that just passed, innocent till guilty no longer applies with this bill. Many wifi connections have no password therefore will be illegally fined/disconnected. Even those with WPA2 can be cracked within 20mins for an amateur computer user by following guides on the internet.
16. Force ISP’s to give us higher upload speeds, america gets around 4mb down and 3mb up on average yet our upload speeds are often only 1/30th of the download speed. We need to be able to share photos, documents and videos with friends and businesses.
17. We should not be spied upon even by intelligence services without a court order.
18. BT should be prosecuted for spying on us and their CEO jailed.
19. The uk govt should force youtube to stop deleting videos, accounts, fixing the views and ratings of videos that they don’t want people to see like videos about 9/11, ron paul, infowars.com etc. They either delete them of put a view count of 5000 and vote count of 1000 and don’t allow any more. This stops millions for seeing the truth about the world.

i’m sure i can think of alot more but this is just a start.

#66 Sam P on 04.12.10 at 7:38 pm

oh ban region coding on dvd’s blurays too, brown couldn’t play 1 of obama’s dvd’s last year because of region coding yet they still haven’t banned it.

#67 BethemediaUK on 04.12.10 at 9:29 pm

All good solid ideas, the main thing is that you engage with people in a two way conversation. I believe that digital communications can be a catalyst to evolve democracy in a more direct way. The old representative model is over. Please tell Mandelson that the games up.

#68 Pat Parslow on 04.12.10 at 9:30 pm

Broaden the eSafety curriculum to engage youngsters with the benefits of the Web (might want to look at http://thisisme.reading.ac.uk and the workbooks we have produced).
I am also tempted to suggest compulsory training courses for all members of both houses of parliament to help them to realise what the de facto internet culture brings to the country, and how they risk undermining competivity in the UK.

#69 John Harding on 04.12.10 at 9:42 pm

1. Put Mandelson on a basic computer course at the local college. That way he wouldnt have supported the DE Act and also your manifesto wouldnt be promising two megaBYTE broadband for all. Its better if our business secretary can understand basic technical principles

2. Net Neutrality to be enshrined into law.

3. Require all ISPs to state their fair use policy transparently.

4. Encourage use of open source software in schools, libraries and Government.

5. Discourage use of DRM. Ban use of DRM by BBC. I pay for it through my TV LIcense, dont tell me what I can or cant do with it.

6. Phorm and similar services – hijacking of electronic communication – to be punishment by jail.

7. Stop the never ending reach of Government databases. They dont need to know!

8. Photographers to stop being harassed.

And finally, the most important. Repeal the Digital Economy Act and Section 44 of the Anti Terrorism Act

#70 Gavin on 04.12.10 at 10:03 pm

While it seems to be suggested/hinted, clearly backing the no2id campaign would be good.

#71 F0ul on 04.12.10 at 10:06 pm

Tom – I am not in your area, so I accept that you will ignore everything I say, but please note that my opinion is not unique.

While I am impressed that you stood up against the #DEBill, you are overall a fraud – you still score a dreadful 79% on the Authoritarian scale of MP’s! http://rank.libdemvoice.org/west-bromwich-east/tom-watson/
If you really want to make a difference, take everything you understand on the DEBill, and transfer it to the rest of your thinking – privacy online is exceptionally important, as is the ability to not be prosecuted for the actions of others, just because you share an IP address!
That would be the innocent until proven guilty that was fashionable in the UK until 1997 – sort out the inconsistency in your thinking and you will get back into power with no problems – best of luck!

#72 Paul Webster on 04.12.10 at 10:38 pm

Tom, great that you are taking this forward. You put up a brave fight last week!

Points which others have covered in some form, but which it doesn’t do haqrm to say again.

– something about clear government policy to use Open Source whenever possible and not to roll over when a propriatary supplier waves a cheque book. The suppliers for the Home Access programme use only Microsoft OS / Software but could have used Open Source.

– connected to the above – a greater RE-use of redundant hardware in less demanding roles within government or given freely to local community organisations.

– support for unheard voices – not calling them ‘hard to reach’ (those working in the community don’t find them ‘hard’) but these groups and individuals need support to use technology to project and direct their views appropriately.

– recognition that not everyone is a well skilled and a regular computer user so give priority and support through Digital Inclusion activities to help them.

– ‘Social Media Surgeries’ for all …. well it’s worth a try!

Looking forward to seeing the finished list!
Thanks
Thanks

#73 Sam P on 04.12.10 at 10:39 pm

some other things i thought of:

1. revoke the freedom of speech areas in London, they shouldn’t be able to stop you from protesting in certain areas of London.
2. get rid of the illegal body scanners, they are using them at a bus stop in the uk now to scan teenagers for drugs, this violates our rights.
3. make schools and civil servants move to the Dvorak keyboard layout instead of QWERTY, qwerty was designed to slow typing down as pc’s couldn’t keep up, that isn’t an issue anymore. We would be a more productive nation if we banned all new qwerty keyboard being manufactured and forced civil servants and schools to use Dvorak layout.
4. give those who are caught carrying a knife a MINIMUM 2yrs in jail, this should stop the majority of knife crime as going to jail for carrying a knife just isn’t worth it.
5. Give ps3 owners the opportunity for a refund after sony removed Other OS support from their firmware, this violates uk law as it is advertised with the functionality, it is not fit for purpose.
6. Sue apple for stopping people for buying iphones when they first went on sale with cash, cash is a valid way of purchasing, apple is not above the law.
7. Force manufacturers to recall faulty products, so many tv’s, laptops etc have faults like wireless dying after 1 month being an inherrant problem with the components or assembly and there is never a recall.

Force the upgrade to IE9 when it comes out and update the custom software the UK govt uses to work with it and encourage businesses to upgrade from IE6 to IE8. This will mean less money will be spent by uk companies making their websites compliant with IE6 which alot of companies are still using.
8. Remove speed cameras from areas where there are little or no crashes which are there solely as an illegal tax.
9. Stop utility companies from colluding and price fixing.
10. Stop DSGi chain from increasing their prices the day before a 10% discount code is launched on their website as you aren’t getting 10% compared to 2 days earlier.
11. Stop DSGi chain from creating products that are identical but using a slightly different model number so that people can’t get pricematches. The do this on digital cameras and sooo many other products.
12. force supermarkets to stop misleading customers by making their cereal boxes, crisp packets etc far larger than what is inside, its misleading and also wastes cardboard and plastic and increases transport costs and shelf space, these cost reductions can be passed onto the consumer.
13. stop covering up corruption like the scottish mp, lawyers etc in the paedophile ring in scotland who used a 6yr girl with downs syndrome in a paedophile ring where 12 people abused her and covered it up by putting her mum in a psychiatric hospital, arresting a journalist for trying to cover the corruption and for getting a court injunction to stop the newspapers from covering it. They need to stop using the law about corruption whistleblowers could harm national security, we need these crimes exposing.

well thats a few more things for the time being.

#74 Jon Levell on 04.12.10 at 10:42 pm

These seem like a good list. I’d be tempted to add something about net neutrality but even without that, it would be great if all MPs could take this list to heart.

#75 Donnacha DeLong on 04.12.10 at 10:51 pm

Hi Tom,
You’re not my MP either – despite being the MP who (inadventedly) exposed the IP address mistake, Emily Thornberry didn’t turn up for the debate.

Anyway, something that nobody has really mentioned is support for new business models in the media and entertainment industries. They’re already happening in the media (regardless of what Murdoch is doing), but the DEBill is exactly the wrong response to “piracy”. The increase in downloading is absolutely down to the entertainment companies failing to adapt to changing technology and they, like Murdoch, just want protectionism for their outdated and doomed business models. More support for alternative, technology appropriate, ways of doing business could change the game.

#76 Paul Webster on 04.12.10 at 11:05 pm

To add to my my final point in the last comment, that includes Social Media Surgeries within the House! Maybe with a bit of basic skills we wouldn’t see Megabits confused with Megabytes and would see the correct words used for ‘IP’!

Thanks

#77 Sam P on 04.12.10 at 11:14 pm

some more things i thought of:

1. Increase the tax on those earning £500k/yr+, this would generate us huge amounts of money from the millionaires and billionaires.
2. Investigate 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings.
3. Investigate robin cook’s death and the MP who said the 45min claim Iraq’s WMD’s was false who then “committed suicide” which the uk govt has put a 75yr stop on his autopsy being revealed.
4. stop trials without jury’s like this 1 that took place: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/armed-raiders-jailed-after-trial-without-jury-1932167.html

#78 Dave Levy on 04.12.10 at 11:52 pm

I agree, great start, well stated for one MP’s pledge to his constituents and supporters.

I’d add something about open source data formats. Govt. & QUANGO data can’t be free to use by the citizenry if they/we don’t have the right to engineer the code that makes it usable. This duty should include the BBC.

Govt. & QUANGO including the BBC should prefer Free/Libre Open Source; its a civil rights and cost issue.

#79 Nic Wistreich on 04.13.10 at 1:00 am

Wow. I’m half-tempted to move to West Bromwich East, just so I can vote for you.

Regarding bringing the web to a greater number of people, the skills divide should perhaps be addressed as well as connectivity. As an example, I’ve been working on ABC – a public-funded project for inner-London parents and their children together learning blogging, social networking and photoshop(!) – http://artsbeyond.org – with an emphasis on them learning to use the web together. It’s very rewarding seeing people – sometimes without an email address at the start – learning from their kids, and vice versa.

#80 An open message to Tom Watson | acidlabs on 04.13.10 at 2:21 am

[...] while I can never vote for you, as I live on the other side of the world, I think you’re setting the standard with your digital pledges as a part of your election campaign. You are doing great work as a [...]

#81 UK MP Solicits Digital Pledges on 04.13.10 at 4:01 am

[...] and Labour PPC for the West Bromwich East Constituency, has established a series of "digital pledges" in the wake of the Digital Economy Bill in the United [...]

#82 We Love Crowds » UK MP Solicits Digital Pledges on 04.13.10 at 4:02 am

[...] and Labour PPC for the West Bromwich East Constituency, has established a series of "digital pledges" in the wake of the Digital Economy Bill in the United [...]

#83 UK MP Solicits Digital Pledges | Gabbur on 04.13.10 at 4:03 am

[...] and Labour PPC for the West Bromwich East Constituency, has established a series of “digital pledges” in the wake of the Digital Economy Bill in the United [...]

#84 My Vote For Sale. Price: Engagement. – scottgould.me on 04.13.10 at 7:40 am

[...] on Sunday about THE digital engaged MP, where she points to Tom Watson and in particular his ‘digital pledges‘. Joanne writes on the subject, with words that I could’ve written myself of late: In [...]

#85 Rebecca Caroe on 04.13.10 at 8:18 am

Tom, when you print that leaflet, send a photo / image of it to http://www.thestraightchoice.org/ who are tracking prospective parliamentary candidates’ printed communications.
Rebecca

#86 William on 04.13.10 at 8:28 am

“Whilst noting the acknowledged limitations, I believe people have the right to free speech on the Internet.”

How about: “People have a right to free speech on the Internet. If they abuse it, I believe the best remedy is usually more free speech.” (adapted IIRC from a Liberty mug I got as a feeebie because there was a typo in the spelling of Nelson Mandela’s name)

#87 ? Digital Liberty Missing From UK Election « Wild Webmink on 04.13.10 at 8:28 am

[...] or indeed anywhere else in the British media. The only hint of awareness I have seen is from Labour MP Tom Watson, who is presumably a pariah now after standing up to his own party in the DeBill debate and vote. [...]

#88 Gaxx on 04.13.10 at 9:18 am

A very good start. However, there is the issue of your past voting record (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/tom_watson/west_bromwich_east – strongly in favour of ID cards? Strongly against a transparent parliament?) that seems more than a little contrary to the above set of pledges. Is this a change of heart or newfound courage to vote against the whip?

#89 Suzanne Burge on 04.13.10 at 9:34 am

Great initiative and impressive response. My comment relates to the public sector and particularly to central government. Yes, it needs to make much more use of open source, but the outsourcing of government IT makes this almost impossible, because open source relies on reciprocity, and government no longer has anyone left who can participate in software development. So often government IT projects fail because of the lack of genuinely “intelligent customers”, in-house people who can offer both the technical know-how and the in-depth understanding of the organisation’s information and how it’s used (and could be used) and of information in general.

#90 Opians on 04.13.10 at 11:36 am

Some thoughts that come across my mind during lunch on this training course Tom.

1) A commitment to determining who is responsible in legal terms for the security of a transaction between a business and a customer online. Or have it a requirement to be specific and explicit in service agreements. At the moment Free WiFi and online banking are huge grey areas all over the world in terms of blame for loss or fraud. I expect this to expand in the future and itd be nice for legislation to preempt a problem for once.

http://krebsonsecurity.com/2010/04/e-banking-guidance-for-banks-businesses/

2) Mandatory and updated IT education until A-level.

3) A commitment from the UK govt on net neutrality

4) Set up a UK online access and transparency body that will centralize MP & govt department web presences. Thus far leaving it up to individual departments themselves has been patchy at best. Interactive websites should be compulsory and maintained.

5) Some sort of advisory council on technology. But actually listen to this one, since it seems clear that, yourself excluded, UK politicians have about as much knowledge of technology as they do pharmacy.

6) Commitment to using open source software where possible

#91 Guy fawkes on 04.13.10 at 12:19 pm

Can’t vote for you, (not in your constituency) but would If I could! mthanks foir an enlightened response to this travesty of an act.

#92 Tony Law on 04.13.10 at 12:53 pm

Sorry Tom but you start off in the wrong party. No chance of centralising Labservatives* supporting your agenda!

* http://www.labservative.com/

#93 Adam Knowles on 04.13.10 at 1:11 pm

Tom have you considered that some discrimination is perhaps a good thing? “The Internet shall be built and operated openly and without discrimination.” Does that mean everyone will have an equal say in how it’s run? Sounds attractive but currently the internet is operated by ‘the West’ for ‘the West’, embodying values of freedom of speech and democracy amongst others. There’s a billion people in communist China, that’s all I’m saying.

#94 Kristen Jones on 04.13.10 at 2:04 pm

I cant vote for you, not my area, but if i could i probably would. Sadly the Labour MP of my area Julie Morgan ( Cardiff North) didnt attend the readings of the D.E.B. and as such i will not vote for her as i thought and still do that its one of the worst underhanded tactics to have come out of this goverment.
I wish YOU luck in re-election, but not your party.

#95 Personal data and a digital manifesto on 04.13.10 at 6:08 pm

[...] While we are on the subject, Tom Watson seems really to understand the internet.  He says he wants to “stand on a platform that is avowedly supportive of the generation that seek to use the Internet to make the world a better place”, and he has drafted a digital manifesto for comments: [...]

#96 Michael Harvey on 04.13.10 at 8:20 pm

Another nail in the coffin of civil rights in this country “likely to infringe”? how can that go through the commons? I’m disgusted with the Labour party but at least it’s 1 vote less for the music industry frontmen – called Labour of course

#97 Suzanne from Bath on 04.13.10 at 10:45 pm

Hi Tom, Really pleased to see so many excellent suggestions. I’m not a constituent, but wanted to respond anyway to support what you are doing. It’s all well and good, Jason, suggesting boosting the creative economy by providing free hot desks in London for entreprenneurs – but what about the one in three people who aren’t proficient internet users yet? Not everyone is doing their banking online at 2am, having Skype conferences and booking holidays from the comfort of their home office. I’d like to see an additional pledge about committing funding to keep community access to the internet free, through libraries and UK online centres for example. It’s easy to talk about so-called digital inclusion but far harder to encourage people to change their habits.

#98 Alexander Hanff on 04.14.10 at 10:31 am

Tom,
The pledge looks good on paper but there is a fundamental flaw that I felt you should be made aware of – your party membership. Your pledges seem somewhat out of sync with the party line – to say the least.

#99 Jon Bounds on 04.14.10 at 11:24 am

Be interesting to see the wording when you mention Open Source — I’d love to see the public sector act as a partner in the OS movement rather than just seeing it as a cheaper source of software.

Not sure how you can pledge to support that, but think how good it would be if some small portion of the money that would be spent on IT solutions could be transferred to effort to improving the Open Source solutions. (Just for example — if people aren’t using Open Office as the interface is confusing, or the documentation is sparse, then effort on improving that should be in some way spent by all capable users.)

Maybe “become a partner rather than a user when embracing open source” — I dunno.

A brilliant idea all told — and a great ‘leading by example’ moment for the aims themselves.

#100 Julian Yon on 04.14.10 at 11:24 am

You really need to be making a strong stand against the very concept of software patents. We don’t have them yet but if the DEBill fiasco is anything to go by it is only a matter of time. In reality they are algorithmic patents, which in layman’s terms means “maths that only one person is allowed to do”. Not only does copyright need reform, but it needs to be underlined that it is only copyright law, not patent law, which is applicable to software.

#101 loulouk on 04.14.10 at 11:55 am

Hi Tom. Firstly, this post is full of win and thank you for bothering to do it. There must be a thousand things on your radar at the moment, that you’re bothering to commit to this is appreciated.
Secondly, and I admit this is a bit of a personal thing, but could you put something in there about rural access. I know people are banging on about the final third first a lot, but it’s sort of a good point.
I grew up a 10 mile round trip from the nearest library with no car, and 2 buses in and out a day to the town that contained the library. When I was old enough I biked in, but before that, whilst studying for my GCSE’s I struggled. We had no money for buying books, so books came from libraries or 2nd hand shops.
A mobile library came once every two weeks but I was restricted to the content the library chose to pack it with, and GCSE materials weren’t high on the agenda.

The web, which I got to access at university in 1995, was a revelation. No geographic restrictions. No monetary restrictions once you’d got a PC and a modem/telephone line, or these days a laptop and broadband. Realtime updates on world and local news, the equivalent of all the encyclopaedias in the whole wide world ever, all at my fingertips. Book reviews, Amazon meaning cheap book ordering, knowledge accessible to all, no matter who are are or where you are from.
These days there is absolutely nothing that I can’t learn about at the typing of a keyword into a search engine. Digital inclusion means opportunity for those who are excluded in many ways, not just digitally.
Hope this makes sense & thank you if you’ve read this far :O)

#102 Shaun Hollingworth on 04.14.10 at 12:30 pm

Well Mr Watson, some interesting promises, which I have no doubt, the New Labour party, should it win the election, will have virtually NO interest in whatsoever.

However it is clear that the British people are simply sick to death of self serving greedy politicians (do as I SAY not as I DO) and big companies who seem to think they have a given right to treat everybody else unfairly.

As regards copyright law, the truth is that copying will always happen, be it from the radio, other people’s records, or the internet. I do not say this is right, but the media companies are generally spoiling it for people who legitimately buy their products with their DRM, irriating people who wish to use the product fairly. So, hows about defining fair use, etc, before propping up the greedy media companies with their desire to maintain old fashioned methods of selling ?

Other things (not all media things either) you need to do:

Keep media censorship to an ABSOLUTE minimum for adults. That means censorship (especially by prohibition of possession) of child abuse and very little else. These new laws prohibiting certain other material (including faked staged material) are NASTY VICIOUS laws imposed because of distaste rather than HARM.

Freeborn adults, being exactly that, and they should be able to watch whatever they wish, unless YOU the government can unequivocally prove the SECULAR real and MANIFEST harm, and I don’t mean harm imagined by relgious zealots either. I am sick to death of Ofcom telling people via broadcasters “standards” what they are free to see, especially on encrypted digital channels, which can be PIN protected at all times. This should include “R18″ adult material which IS allowed just about everywhere else in Europe. There is strong academic evidence that this kind of material though distasteful to some actually helps REDUCE sex crime, rather than increase it. I believe how little censorship people are subject to, indicates how free they really are, and we are SUPPOSED to be a free people.

It is ironic that a religious channel (Revelation TV) has ditched its ofcom licence and is now broadcasting on Sky Digital using a Spanish licence because they did not have the freedom to broadcast what they believed in.

Keep verbal and written censorship to an absolute minimum too, unless it consists of downright hatred involving incitement to physically harm others or to disenfranchise them. People should be free to say/write what they will, and others should be free to refute it. Nothing is served by sweeping people’s views under the carpet. Libel should only protect an assault on a person’s integrety, and financial loss, which should be proven to be real, and the asserions made must be proven to be FALSE before any financial penalty for damages is imposed.

The ruling classes shoud have a proper regard and respect for the rights and freedoms of the other citizens of these islands, and remember what Tony Blair initially said, and then took no notice of his own words: You (we) “are not the masters”

Look for things to UNban sometimes rather than prohibiting everything you can think of. To ban something should happen ONLY when no other restriction is available, and when the need for it, is BEYOND question.

Legalise sex workers where they operate in locations which do not disturb others too much. Accept that they are actually performing a vital role, especially to those who for whatever reason cannot find long term partners, who the current government would want to turn into CRIMINALS instead. Shame on you for that.

Stop taxing beer and petrol all the time. They are expensive enough as it is, and pubs are still closing at a horrendous rate. Do you think everybody actually wants that ?

Do not allow UNELECTED people such as “lords” to be involved in the high level business of government. This is NOT democracy. In fact it is sickening, to be honest.
We want an ELECTED second chamber.

Reign in the jobsworths who make everyone’s life a misery with their pathetic and petty interpretation of the law. To be honest I’d sooner put up with the dog muck and the litter rather than to be subject to repression by these nobodys who more often than not, act unjustly.

Any act of war or invasion, unless the agressor attacks THESE ISLANDS or other British terrotories first, MUST be subject to a referendum.

So:

Falklands war = OK as it was a British territory.
Iraq War = NOT OK, as it was a foreign country which never attacked us as far as I know.

Be sure whatever you do is open to criticism, scrutiny, and is fully justified and explained to the public. Be sure that your quangos such as Ofcom are subject to the same regime. Be sure the government remains secular in its decision making. Laws brought about by religious mumbo jumbo should have NO place in a free, multicultural society.

You people of the ruling class exist for the BENEFIT of all the people, not just those such as greedy companies, with vested interests.

We found out years ago, than the “Man in Whitehall” does NOT know best. You must respect the wishes of the electorate whereever possible.

If we stay in Europe lets have some of the good things about it, and not all the hideous restrictions and laws they impose. Rigorously defend our position against them, whenever necessary.

(Sorry about the long rant)

One question for you Mr. Watson ? How free a people are we compared with the rest of the world ? How free SHOULD we be ?

#103 UK MP Solicits Digital Pledges on 04.14.10 at 12:44 pm

[...] and Labour PPC for the West Bromwich East Constituency, has established a series of “digital pledges” in the wake of the Digital Economy Bill in the United [...]

#104 Robert Burrell Donkin on 04.14.10 at 1:55 pm

Some thoughts on the physical infrastructure of the Internet in the UK.

Promising the masses the speeds South Korea had at the turn of the last millenium is a waste of time and money. Only jumping a complete generation is worthwhile.

That means bypassing local exchanges by laying fibre from door to backbone. Assign each UK property IP6 addresses, organised for routing efficiency. Fibre each directly (via large, future proof conduits exploiting the motorway and rail networks) to regional interconnects via county repeating hubs. Use statue to create regional charities to create and administer this network. Fund the capital costs through increased stamp duty (since everyone who owns property benefits) and running costs through membership fees (of the county and regional interconnects).

Done right, this would give quick interconnections at minimal cost between all UK addresses. ISPs would then competing to provide outgoing connects and modems.

Just an idea…

Robert

#105 Pete on 04.14.10 at 2:10 pm

Protection against industrial espionage, and mass personal surveillance would be welcome.

The content on the web is what makes it valuable. Without protection, the range and quality of information and services available will be diminished, or encryption will proliferate. Price and value are not the same.

BT’s complete disregard for the rights of internet users, including copyright/privacy/security/data integrity, and Labour’s associated failure to defend and protect the hundreds of thousands of citizens and thousands of small and medium businesses trading online has been a shocking scandal.

The confidentiality/security/integrity of UK telecommunications must be restored and protected.

#106 Paul T on 04.15.10 at 2:02 pm

I salute you for your stance on this.

Do they not realise what is going to happen here and what exactly they are doing?

My M.P is Andtrew Miller and he voted for it.

Not had a reply from my email so have sent another.

Keep up the good and HONEST work Tom, this is not the end.

I will be up on the roof of parliament soon, “mark my words!”

#107 Paul T on 04.15.10 at 2:04 pm

By the way, regardless of what they do you cannot control the internet. The only way to control it is by taking my keyboard and mouse away!

#108 Tom on 04.16.10 at 8:26 am

Hi all,

Apologies for the rather rushed responses to your comments. The election campaign is making life a little hectic right now. I’m working on the finishing touches to the pledges today. Should have them firmed up and online in a better format by the weekend.

Thanks all for your help, support, ideas and insight.

Hope I’ve answered most people:

Jen, Moniker42, Paul Webster: Thanks for comments on open source. I’ve made sure there’s a reference to it.
Alex – open formats for public data. Yes agree.
Andrew C.Oliver, Julian Yon: Software patents. You’re absolutely right. I’ve amended a pledge.
Nicholas Butlter: You’re right. Will strengthen and simplify on data ownership
Dubber: Think I’ve partially covered your point in the free expression pledge.
Matt: listened to it a 7am this morning. Unbelievable video. Going to recommend it later. Thanks for the education!
Sam P: I admire your indefatigability ;-)
Jon levell: Net neutrality. hope it’s covered in the discrimination point on the open internet
Rebecca: Will send. Have you had my other leaflets yet?
William: Yes, thanks. I’ve hardened the line on free speech.
Jon Bounds: I managed to get a line about open source, though it’s a general principle but take on board your point.
Tim: Libel reform. Part of a wider policy area but I hope the free speech and open internet pledges will guide me on that.
Pat: Good point, well made. I’ve put in a line about responsibilities of elected representatives.
Loulouk: Great testimony. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience.

#109 Sam P on 04.16.10 at 12:46 pm

Thanks Tom, you taught me a new word: “indefatigability”. Thats my new thing that i’ve learn’t today.

#110 Michael McCarthy on 04.16.10 at 7:49 pm

1.I will support and campaign for more transparency in the public and private sector.

That’s much too vague. How about pledging to remove all the get-out clauses in the Freedom of Information Act which simply serve to keep “politically sensitive” information away from the voters? And how about extending the FoI Act to cover the private sector? The public interest in knowing what powerful corporations get up to (especially as regards avoiding tax, and wrecking the environment by “externalising” costs) must be allowed to trump so-called commercial confidentiality.

#111 sarahC on 04.17.10 at 8:29 pm

Whilst supporting transparency in the public sector, lets have some common sense and find a way to discourage the making of frivolous and uneccessary FoI requests to public bodies that must waste tens of thousands of hours of staff time in Local Councils. A browse through the WhatDoTheyKnow website shows the the kind of questions being asked. Some of them plain daft and asked again and again across the country, but each costing council tax-payers money.

#112 Geff on 04.19.10 at 8:40 am

Some twenty times the comments, and not simple oneliners like this one either, on the other blog posts says it all…

#113 Why Tom Watson voted against the Digital Economy Bill – and what you can do. | Podnosh on 04.19.10 at 11:30 pm

[...] Tom Watson’s blog and the Open Rights Group. [...]

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