Where should Labour take digital policy? We want to hear from you

Chi Onwurah
©️ David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

It’s time for Labour to develop bold new thinking for the future and we want your help. The events of the last few months have moved technology even closer to the heart of our working and domestic lives. The average UK adult now spends around a quarter of their waking life on the internet, and online shopping has risen dramatically.

The pandemic has highlighted the positive power of digital technology, but it has also brought many of its downsides into focus. Too many people are denied the technological benefits that many take for granted. This digital divide has left some children with no access to schooling, directly affecting the life chances of the next generation. Online abuse and hate, algorithmic bias, data breaches and hacks now dominate the news and indeed many of our lives.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee famously said of the World Wide Web: “This is for everyone”. But sadly that is not actually the case. Labour believes that we can demand more from our digital technologies – and build a digital future that is safer, fairer and more inclusive. And it’s time for some bold and future-focused thinking. That’s why Labour has recently launched a new consultation as part of the national policy forum.

‘Our Digital Future’ aims to produce a set of principles to guide Labour’s digital policy, not just for the next election cycle but for the long term. We want to create a credible and detailed vision of how our digital future should work. This push has a broad base of support, including leading author Jamie Susskind – the name behind the fantastic Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech – and Ian Russell, co-founder of the Molly Rose Foundation, an incredible campaigner for online safety whose daughter Molly tragically committed suicide as the result of suicide content she had seen on Instagram.

To make this a reality, we need the help of Labour members, trade unions, small and growing businesses, charities and others in answering the following questions:

  1. How can we promote digital innovation across all of the UK’s regions and nations? How can we ensure it generates good, fulfilling jobs for everyone as we build back better?
  2. What principles should govern our lives online and protect us all against harm? How should they be enforced?
  3. How can we put people in charge of their online lives? Do we need stricter – or different – rules for how large corporations and public bodies use our personal data?
  4. How can the government better use tech to work for the public?
  5. How can we ensure that no one is excluded from the digital revolution? What are the main barriers to digital inclusion and how can we remove them?

Labour needs a compelling vision for the future to win over people in time for the next election – and having fresh, vibrant and practicable ideas on digital and technology will be absolutely essential to that. We want to hear from as many people as possible for their views on where Labour could take digital policy for the future. You can read the full consultation document and details of how to respond here and here.

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