Election 2015

Election 2015: Lib Dems propose Digital Bill of Rights

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA
Image caption Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said consumers, businesses, journalists and children should be protected online

Plans for new laws to protect people's rights online have been unveiled by the Liberal Democrats.

The proposed Digital Bill of Rights would protect personal information and impose tougher penalties on theft and illegal sale of data.

The party has pledged to introduce it within six months of a new coalition government.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said the bill would "stop information about our lives being misused".

"We need to ensure that consumers, businesses, journalists and our children are protected in the online world," he said, launching a consultation on the plans.

Freedom of expression

The party said the bill would "beef up" powers for the Information Commissioner to inspect companies that break data protection laws.

It would give legal rights to compensation for consumers from companies which get people to sign up online to deliberately misleading or unreadable terms and conditions.

Other measures contained in the proposal include a code of practice for websites to correct defamatory or inaccurate information.

It would also enshrine in law the responsibility of the government to defend press freedom for journalists and citizen journalists online.

Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem's election candidate for Cambridge, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that individual rights could be enforced without harming freedom of expression.

"Yes you want free speech but we've said for many, many centuries, that there should also be the right not to be defamed," he said.

"I think it is right to protect the citizen from having that sort of attack."

In 2013, more than 500 writers from around the world signed an open letter to the United Nations urging it to create an international bill of digital rights.

The letter condemned the scale of state surveillance after whistle-blower Edward Snowden leaked information about surveillance carried out by the US Government.

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