The Liberal Democrats have announced they would like to see a new Digital Rights Bill introduced within the first six months of the next Parliament.
The party has launched a public consultation on the Bill, which it claims it will introduce if they were to form a new coalition government after the election.
The Lib Dems claim to have developed the Bill in response to range of news reports claiming that thousands of NHS patients have had their data sold off while organisations are breaching data protection laws be selling details of peoples’ pensions.
The organisation claims the Bill would include prison sentences for both public and private companies found conducting large-scale data theft.
While the party recognises the enormous socio-economic benefits of the Internet and increasing online interactions, it claims that this has left people open to exploitation and misuse of their personal information by criminals, commercial interests and public authorities.
“The way in which we work, socialise, buy products and use services has change at lightning speed since the digital revolution,” claimed Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.
“However government and politicians have responded at snail’s pace and failed to ensure the rights of consumers, businesses, journalists and children are protected in the online world.
“Our Digital Rights Bill will finally enshrine into law our rights as citizens of this country to privacy to stop information about us being abused online and to protect our right to freedom of speech,” he added.
Consumer rights, increased powers, code of practice
Besides prisons sentences for those guilty of large-scale data theft, the Bill would include beefed up powers for the Information Commissioner to fine and enforce disciplinary action on government bodies breaching data protection laws.
It would also offer legal rights to compensation for consumers when companies make people sign up online to deliberately misleading and illegible terms and conditions.
The Digital Rights Bill would introduce a Code of Practice for online services which would, by law, have to correct information about members of the public where it is inaccurate of defamatory.
Meanwhile, it would become law for the government to defend the free press, including the rights of journalists and citizens journalists to express their views freely online and prevent government from watering down cyber security and encryption measures used by British business.
The Lib Dems are currently holding a consultation so the public can provide information about what they would like to see in a Digital Rights Bill.