UK's new Data Protection Bill will be 'liberal' not 'libertarian', says digi minister

Matt Hancock uses speech on the internet to pontificate about liberalism...


Digital minister Matt Hancock has confirmed that the Data Protection Bill will be published tomorrow, in a speech promising internet laws "based on liberal and not libertarian values" that "cherish freedom yet prevent harm to others".

Speaking at the UK Internet Governance Forum, Hancock said the forthcoming data protection regime will bring the internet into “the twenty-first century, giving citizens more sovereignty over their data, and greater penalties for those who break the rules.”

The legislation is expected to give people to have more control over their personal data and will require social media platforms to delete information on children and adults when asked as well as to expand the definition of "personal data" to include IP addresses, internet cookies and DNA.

Pontificating about the development of the internet, Hancock said: "This period of tech utopia was built on a libertarian attitude that the online world was different, and the old rules could be cast aside."

But he went on to say: "Sometimes we do need regulation, like with the age verification laws to prevent children viewing porn easily online, just as they do offline."

He also noted that the second part of the Digital Charter, unveiled in Theresa May's disastrous manifesto in May, will ensure a fairer economic landscape online.

"For starters, we have equalled the penalty for copyright infringement to be the same online as offline. We are supporting further copyright reform to support rights holders and help close the value gap. Where value is created online, it must be appropriately rewarded," he said.

Hancock has previously said the UK’s data protection laws will remain strongly aligned to that of the EU. “As the UK leaves the EU we will ensure we have one of the most robust systems for protection of intellectual property anywhere in the world; for all civilised societies are based on the fair and equal protection of property rights," he said today.

Summing up his political philosophy lecture, Hancock said: "Liberal democracy is a British invention. As one of its founders, John Locke, said 'Where there is no law there is no freedom: for liberty is, to be free from restraint and violence from others'. That is as true of the internet as it was of civil governance in the 17th century." ®

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