Jeremy Corbyn heads to trendy East London to launch plans for public eBay and Google

Written as editor of the New Statesman’s NS Tech and first published here.

Jeremy Corbyn has headed to civic tech space Newspeak House in trendy East London to launch a digital democracy manifesto that he intends to take into the next general election.

While giving a nod to Skype and Google for transforming our everyday lives, he said the internet’s advances could become “forces of inequality and exploitation”.

This plan, he said, would “democratise the internet”, while also acknowledging the many people who face social exclusion as government and politics moves online.

He said Labour would ensure that “no community is left behind”.

None of the pledges are brand new ideas, several are already being done to some extent by the current government, but here they are:

  • £25 billion investment in a Universal Service Network to give mobile and broadband internet access to the whole of the UK

“Inequality of coverage is not trivial,” Corbyn said. He called it a “barrier to social and educational opportunity”. The policy is not unlike the Conservative Party’s Universal Service Obligation, which has been a long and hard thing to deliver.

  • Open Knowledge Library as a hub for lessons and curriculum, a public Google platform?
  • Platform Cooperatives that operate as a public trading platform for digital goods and services, like eBay and Taskrabbit in one?

This would be enhanced by “reformed copyright laws” to help protect the UK’s cultural workers and a “new kind of trade union membership” for digital workers.

  • Digital Citizen Passport for people to interact with government and private companies, not unlike (abandoned?) midata project or current GOV.UK Verify
  • Library for open source software that has been publicly funded
  • People’s Charter of Digital Liberty Rights, announced earlier this year, to “protect people from unwarranted surveillance” and enshrine privacy and freedom of speech
  • Massive Multi-Person On-line Deliberation to let people participate in policy decisions

Corbyn also made mention of online voting in elections but said this would have to be “open to widest possible consultation”.

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