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Broadband top of Tories' IT election agenda

UK must 'exploit digital technology'

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The Conservative Party would do more to exploit IT and digital technology in the UK if elected at the next general election, which is expected as early as May. In particular, broadband would top the agenda and the Tories would work to ensure that the UK had a network capable of delivering "interactive video for all" by 2020.

Unveiling its "Action Plan" at the weekend, a Tory think tank led by Shadow IT Minister Michael Fabricant MP and European Technology Spokesman Malcolm Harbour MEP said: "An incoming Conservative Government must..lift the UK significantly upwards from its middle rank position among developed countries in exploiting digital technology."

The pre-election report by the Conservative Technology Forum also reckons that police need more specialist resources to help deal with computer crime. It's also called for the creation of a central unit to deal with paedophiles.

In a statement Tory Michael Fabricant said: "This Action Plan offers practical policies which an incoming Conservative administration must seriously consider. This shows our joined up approach to policy making and our determination to move the UK to the front rank of digital economies."

Whatever.

Last month, the Government was tickled pink that it had hit one of its key broadband targets. In February 2001 the UK Government said it wanted the UK to have the most "extensive and competitive broadband" market among leading industrial nations by 2005.

Official stats from researchers Ovum found that while the UK is top of the class for broadband "extensiveness" it still has some way to go before it can be classed as a truly competitive broadband nation. On the issue of competitiveness, the UK is still playing catch-up behind Japan and Canada.

Undeterred, eminister Mike O'Brien said: "The UK now has the most extensive broadband market in the G7. We said we wanted the UK to be the best place in the world for e-business and, with broadband now available to 96 per cent of households and more than six million people already subscribing, this is fast becoming a reality." ®

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