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Lib Dems demand niceness, ignore technology

Appeal to the man on the Clapham night bus

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Otherwise, the manifesto appears mostly silent on issues that The Register has focused on over the last few years. There is just one nod to small business with a commitment to make small company business rate relief automatic. Nothing on ir35.

The Lib Dems will ensure that the BBC remains "strong and free from interference" and they support a "diverse regional and local media". They will support the rollout of superfast broadband, targeted first at those areas which are least likely to be provided for by the market.

They like the idea of quick-report buttons on social networking sites as a means to tackle online bullying, and they are also in favour of regulating airbrushing in adverts.

Otherwise, there is little mention of ICT or digital. On the liberties front some hope remains. The Lib Dems would introduce a Freedom Bill, regulate CCTV, stop unfair extradition to the US and stop children being fingerprinted at school without their parents’ permission.

They would reform the libel laws in favour of investigative journalism, scrap ID Cards – replacing them with more police - and also scrap plans for passports with additional biometric data.

Under the Lib Dems, your emails would not be stored by the state "without good cause", innocent people would be removed from the DNA Database – and there would be an end to the Contactpoint database.

Good stuff. At the end of the Lib Dem manifesto, one is nonetheless left with a sense of frustration. They so almost "get it". However, they are uncertain whether to roll back the state and red tape – or pile on more regulation to prevent minor injustices.

When it comes to the interplay between ICT and the state – the way in which new technology in unwise hands can be a power for intrusion and injustice – it really does feel like a manifesto for the last election. Technology has moved on, but the Lib Dems have not yet caught up. ®

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