By Steve McCaskill
The Green Party has vowed to use technology to achieve its environmental policies and to oppose the use of mass surveillance if it is elected to power at the 2015 General Election on May 7.
A digital bill of rights could be introduced, guaranteeing the right to privacy and control over personal data, while a policy of open data and a commitment to use open-source IT would be implemented.
However, the party's manifesto warned that technology would not be pursued for technology's sake or at any cost to the environment.
"Greens are pro-science. But just because science allows us to do something, that does not mean we should do it," reads the document. "We need to balance our scientific and technological abilities against the social, economic and ethical consequences of doing them—including their impact on future generations and other species."
"Greens will support the development of technologies that have strong social, economic and environmental beliefs. That is why we support investment in energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy, which will be vital in helping to secure improvements in people’s quality of life and to combating climate change."
The party committed to providing adequate government funding for technological research at the expense of military R&D and pledged to ensure innovation is not controlled by large corporations. The inevitable focus on renewable energy, emissions and conservation of a Green government would have an impact on technological manufacturing and data centers.
The Greens have also promised to end tuition fees and increase apprenticeships, while government IT contracts would not be outsourced, with the controversy surrounding Atos cited as a specific example.
Every household and small business in the country would be provided with "high-speed" broadband to help SMBs and to encourage video conferencing, which would reduce the amount of travel required by employees and therefore carbon emissions.
End of Surveillance State
The party supports open data and open source technology, while it also promised to limit the state's censorship and surveillance powers. A whole section of the manifesto is devoted to the issue of 'digital rights', in which it says a new bill could help safeguard such freedoms.
The Greens say they would limit surveillance and data retention in full and would assist the EU's proposals to strengthen data protection laws against the threat of U.S. companies. Citizens' personal data would not be commercialized in any way, while the censorship and takedown of content would only be permissible in unspecified "exceptional circumstances."
The government's purchasing power would be used to support open source standards and copyright would become shorter in length, easier to understand and, more radically, would prevent patents from applying to software.
"The Green Party supports a world of open, freely flowing information. We don't disproportionate or unaccountable surveillance or censorship," said the manifesto. "We want a transparent state but we want control over the data our digital lives create. We need copyright laws that reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies. Above all we want democratic political control of this technology.
"We want a transparent state but we want control over the data our digital lives create. We need copyright laws that reward creators but that are consistent with digital technologies. Above all we want democratic political control of this technology."
Earlier this week, both Labor and the Conservatives published their respective manifestos, with the latter supporting greater surveillance and data retention legislation.