From snooping to broadband: 8 ways the new Conservative Party will change tech

Right (wing) on

As the Conservatives stride back into 10 Downing Street this morning, we can't help but glance at our smartwatches and wonder what it all means for the British tech industry.

Handily, the Tories released a technology manifesto just three weeks ago - so what's the tech plan for the next five years then, Dave? Well, it's broadly positive - more tech, more funding, better internet - but there are a couple of worrying things in there too.

1. Snoop, snoop and snoop again

Say what you like about the Lib Dems' time in the coalition, but they were at least very actively opposed to the Data Communications Bill. That's the bill commonly referred to as the Snoopers' Charter for its broad and invasive permissions for government agencies and police to just have a look at pretty much whatever you're doing and saying online and over the phone without any specific cause.

With the Lib Dems out of the way, Data Communications Bill advocate and returning Home Secretary Theresa May is free to push the bill through. Indeed, according to a journalist from the Law Society Gazette she has reported that, as of 6.30am on May 8, she was already on the case: "Theresa May has confirmed government can now bring forward Communications Data bill (ie Snooper's Charter) without Lib Dems around."

2. Superfast broadband

It's been on the agenda for a long time, but the Tories are still adamant that they can get 95% of the UK on superfast broadband by 2017. Most British cities now have some access to fibre optic broadband while some rural areas barely have dial-up, which means the country risks a digital divide where some people are able to take advantage of the full internet and some are not. To get the entire country on super-fast broadband would be a very good thing, particularly given number three...

3. More government services online

It's cheaper and technically more convenient for the likes of you and I to access our government services online. Which is great for those of us who can afford and have access to reliable internet but highlights the importance of making sure the entire country can get online as per point number two.

4. More support and money for start-ups

They may be being hounded out of London's Silicon Roundabout by untenable rent hikes, but the Tories said they'd help tech start-ups in a number of ways. Trebling the startup loans initiative should see more businesses get funding, expanding the tech incubator network will mean better support for fledgling companies and tax reliefs will help them find their feet.

A burgeoning tech industry will help stimulate the British economy and provide new jobs, rather than just maintaining our status as a tax haven for massive international companies that give nothing back.

5. New tech for the NHS and the police

It's all a bit "look over here at these exciting new large-scale trials of innovative technologies and health services" and "don't worry about our mates kicking the tyres over there", but health tech is one of the areas where the most interesting and useful innovation is happening in technology, and investing in that now should pay off in the long run.

As for the police, as well as access to everything you've ever said online, the Conservatives plan to use the Police Innovation Fund to bring new technology to the force, including a new policy on how to use mobile devices better in the fight against crime.

6. Smart meters for all!

The Tories are still trying to make The Internet Of Things happen, and have pledged that by 2020 every home and business in the country will have a smart meter to monitor their energy use. Which is nice.

7. Smart train travel

When it comes to travel, the Conservatives are backing autonomous systems to make our lives easier. The April manifesto promised the introduction of smart ticketing systems to make rail travel (and claiming refunds when trains run late) easier. On-train Wi-Fi and investment in the mobile phone network will also help boost your ability to work while travelling by train.

8. Eight Great Technologies

The Tories pledged to support the Eight Great Technologies, specifying robotics and autonomous systems. The other six are big data, satellites, energy storage, advanced materials, regenerative medicine, agri-science and synthetic biology. That means autonomous cars, bionic limbs, graphene development, better farming systems, lab-grown organs and surveillance among other things. How very The Future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

News Editor (UK)

It's a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she's constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. And having been immersed in the world of tech and tech rumours for more than six years, she can spot a photoshopped iPhone 8 image from 20 paces.