8 tech changes the Tories plan to introduce

What to expect if there's a Conservative government


The Sun doesn't like to back losers, so if it's backing the Tories - and of course, it is - then only a fool would bet against Dave Cameron becoming our next PM.

That means it's probably a good idea to look at what they're planning.

Will the Tories bring better broadband, or will they snuggle up with The Man and make things even worse for The Kids?

Here's what we know - although of course these are all pre-election promises, which means they could be as realistic as our pre-wedding promises to cut down on the booze and spend less time on the Xbox.

1. They'll open up BT's network

In January, shadow media secretary Jeremy Hunt MP slagged off Labour's endless broadband studies and promised action.

In particular, he wants fibre-optic cables to be laid while the roads are being dug up for other things, he wants local authorities to ensure fast broadband is standard in new homes and he wants to completely change the way broadband is provided, making next-generation broadband available to pretty much everyone within five years.

"We should not rely solely on BT to build [the] new network," he said, promising to open up the broadband infrastructure for anyone to compete. "The nimbleness of competition will be far more effective at stimulating investment than top-down strategies by ministers or regulators."

2. They'll take Ofcom's teeth out

In a move that's not even vaguely connected to News International and Sky TV owner Rupert Murdoch's sudden support of the Tories, the Conservatives will keep the telecoms and broadcasting watchdog but take away all its teeth. "It will no longer play a role in making policy," Cameron said in July.

3. They'll censor internet TV. And possibly the internet

In a consultation document posted on the Conservatives website, the Tories propose working "with ISPs to develop a responsibility contract regarding common filtering technologies that would allow parents to block unsuitable programmes and websites from television sets as internet TV becomes a reality in the next five years." Websites? WEBSITES?

4. They won't keep the three-strikes law, but they might ban BitTorrent

Speaking to the Financial Times, Jeremy Hunt asked "Do we really want to prosecute someone that does a video of their cat with a Beatles soundtrack behind it and posts it on YouTube? A legal threat to disconnect users could have the unintended consequence of stifling innovation in areas such as video games, where the UK has a strong creative base."

So no file sharing crackdown? Not so fast. David Cameron told music industry execs that "Copyright theft has to be treated like other theft" and that "ISPs can block access and indeed close down offending file-sharing sites."

Describing the Internet Watch Foundation's role in blocking illegal porn, Cameron said that ISPs "should be doing the same when it comes to digital piracy."

5. They'll run OpenOffice

Criticising the Government's record of budget-busting IT projects, David Cameron has been bigging up Linux.

No, really: he argues that open source software and a more modular approach to government IT systems could save the taxpayer "hundreds of millions of pounds per year". He seems keen on open standards, too: not only has he pledged to publish details of all government spending over £25,000 online, but he says it'll be "in an open and standardised format".

6. They'll put burglars on Google Maps

Not really. But we'll get crime maps which, once again, will be "published online in a standardised way."

7. They'll build a Super Electric Internet. We're not kidding.

The Conservatives aren't using the word "super", sadly, but they do want an electric internet. "We will add computing intelligence to electricity networks by introducing a smart grid and the use of smart meters in homes," they say. "This will allow demand and supply to be intelligently managed, and pave the way for large-scale use of renewable energy sources."

The same policy also calls for a nationwide network of recharging points for electric cars, or "plugs" as such stations are often called. Presumably they mean fast recharge points rather than standard 13-amp sockets. Although they might not.

8. They'll protect your privacy. Probably.

On the one hand the Tories propose to give the Information Commissioner more power, to restrict surveillance only to things you can be sent to prison for, to carry out a "privacy impact assessment" on the Home Office plans to spy on everything everybody does and to bin both the ID card scheme - not just the cards, but the whole thing - and the controversial ContactPoint children's database.

On the other, they want to give your medical details to Microsoft and Google.


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