The Role of Internet Politics in the 2015 British Election Manifestos

The Role of Internet Politics in the 2015 British Election Manifestos
Christian Fuchs @fuchschristian

General elections will take place in Britain on May 7, 2015. Whereas the role of digital and social media as a communication tool in election campaigns is often discussed in public, less attention tends to be given to policy questions that concern the Internet. What is the role of media and Internet politics in the contending parties’ election manifestos?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Media Politics

The BBC and the Leveson Inquiry are issues in the majority of the competing political parties’ manifestos. Concerning the BBC, the Conservatives want to review the BBC Royal Charter and ensure that the BBC “delivers value for money”. The Greens want to abolish the licence and fund the BBC out of general taxation. The Liberal Democrats say that it should not rise faster than inflation. Labour argues it is committed to public service broadcasting. Plaid Cymru wants to establish a BBC Trust for Wales. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is committed to the licence fee and wants to increase the budget share of BBC Scotland by £100 million. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) wants to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee.

The Leveson Inquiry is directly mentioned in all manifestos, except the ones by UKIP and Plaid Cymru. Whereas the Conservatives stress the establishment of the new Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, and the Greens express that they feel the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry have not been adequately implemented and more needs to be done.

Media plurality and freedom as well as public service broadcasting are certainly not the big issues in the 2015 British election campaigns that are rather dominated by topics such as the National Health Service, the economy and employment, social security, taxation, the budget, immigration, crime and security, housing, and Europe. The party manifestos show that some attention is given to the role of the media in society. The BBC and Leveson are about classical issues that concern journalism, media quality and plurality, and public service broadcasting. But what is the role of the Internet and digital media in the 2015 British election manifestos?

Right Wing Internet Politics: Internet Control

Both the Conservatives and UKIP frame the Internet and social media predominantly as a threat that enhances terrorism and crime and needs to be controlled by policing, surveillance and tough laws.

The only time UKIP mentions the Internet, it speaks of it as “growing as a medium to commission and commit crime”. Therefore the party wants to come up with “up to date sentencing procedures and processes for internet/cyber crime”, invest “in new technology such as communications equipment and personal CCTV to combat crime”, and foster surveillance of communications (“Increasing Intelligence Capabilty”):UKIP will create a new over-arching role of Director of National Intelligence (subject to confirmation hearing by the relevant Commons Select Committee), who will be charged with reviewing UK intelligence and security, in order to ensure threats are identified, monitored and dealt with by the swiftest, most appropriate and legal means available. He or she will be responsible for bringing all intelligence services together; developing cyber security measures; cutting down on waste and encouraging information and resource sharing”.

For UKIP, the Internet poses a threat of terrorism and crime, which is why it takes a right-wing law and order and control approach in online politics. Whereas the passages about the Internet are rather scarce in UKIP’s manifesto, more space is devoted to digital media in the Tories’ manifesto.


Like UKIP, the Tories believe that Internet surveillance stops crime, radicalisation and terrorism: “To restrict the harmful activities of extremist individuals, we will create new Extremism Disruption Orders”. The Conservatives also want to introduce legislation that bans certain people from using the Internet and thereby abolishes the freedom of online use for some individuals: “These new powers might, for instance, prevent those who are seeking to radicalise young British people online from using the internet
or communicating via social media”. “We will keep up to date the ability of the police and security services to access communications data – the ‘who, where, when and how’ of a communication,
but not its content. Our new communications data legislation will strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs, even as technology develops. We will maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content
of suspects’ communications, while continuing to strengthen oversight of the use of these powers”.

The Tories take a policing and control approach towards questions of copyright in the online world: “We will protect intellectual property by continuing to require internet service providers to block sites that carry large amounts of illegal content, including their proxies. And we will build on progress made under our voluntary anti-piracy projects to warn internet users when they are breaching copyright. We will work to ensure that search engines do not link to the worst-offending sites”.

The Conservatives want to use taxpayers’ money in order to create and accelerate infrastructures, including broadband and mobile phone networks, that are controlled by private companies: “We have set out a plan to invest over £100 billion in our infrastructure over the next Parliament”: “And we will continue to ‘top-slice’ the licence fee for digital infrastructure to support superfast broadband across the country”. We will “roll out universal broadband and better mobile phone connections, to ensure everyone is part of the digital economy”. “Improving our trains, roads and broadband helps local businesses grow and create more jobs and opportunities”. “We will deliver faster internet, to help you work and communicate more easily. […] We will also release more spectrum from public sector use to allow greater private sector access. […] We will boost mobile coverage, so you can stay connected. […] We will ensure that Britain seizes the chance to be a world leader in the development of 5G, playing a key role in defining industry standards”.

The Tories’ Internet politics is a combination of right-wing Internet control and neoliberalism that invests taxpayers’ money into communications companies’ provision of networks as for-profit services in order to accumulate capital. Both UKIP and the Conservatives share the idea that the Internet poses a threat of terrorism, radicalisation and crime and therefore needs to be monitored. The terms privacy, surveillance and Snowden are absent from their election manifestos. They want to advance policing and surveillance capacities, which however are superficial measures that threaten liberal freedoms and overlook that crime has societal causes and can best be prevented by fostering social, educational and job security of at-risk individuals. Right-wing law and order and control politics furthermore tend to scapegoat specific groups (immigrants, Muslims, people of colour, etc.), to create a culture of fear, mistrust and discrimination that can amplify the actual criminal behaviour of discriminated groups, and to undermine the presumption of innocence. Such politics has totalitarian potentials.

Both…And Internet Politics

The Labour Party wants to appeal to both the right and the left and therefore ends up with a vague and paradox form of Internet politics.

It wants to have an Internet that foster capitalism and that at the same time public efforts, but the latter only for non-users and the digital illiterate: Capitalist in the first instance, public efforts only for the poor: “We will work with the industry and the regulator to maximise private sector investment and deliver the mobile infrastructure needed to extend coverage and reduce ‘not spots’, including in areas of market failure. And we will support community-based campaigns to reduce the proportion of citizens unable to use the internet and help those who need it to get the skills to make the most of digital technology”. Digital neoliberalism with a human face? In the last instance, digital politics is for Labour all about fostering capitalist innovation: Labour’s longer-term approach will drive innovation and build on our strengths as a leader in digital technology. We are just at the start of the internet revolution. Digital technology has transformed start-up costs making it easier to run your own business. There is a widening in the application of new transformative technologies in the fields of robotics, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data. Our economy is developing a network of connections that will revolutionise innovation”.

Labour neglects that after more of 20 years of the commercial WWW, Britain and Europe have not caught up with and will not outcompete and overtake Silicon Valley Internet companies that dominate the digital world. It does not realise that Europe may have to concentrate on what it is good at – public service and community media – and apply this approach to the Internet.

In eGovernment, Labour does not promise radical novelties or more participatory democracy, but more services and open data: “To create a more connected society we will support making digital government more inclusive, transparent and accountable. We will continue to back the principle of ‘open data by default’, releasing public sector performance data wherever possible”.

“Britain needs to be prepared to counter the threat of cyber-attacks. […] We will need to update our investigative laws to keep up with changing technology, strengthening both the powers available, and the safeguards that protect people’s privacy. This is why Labour argued for an independent review, currently being undertaken by David Anderson. We will strengthen the oversight of our intelligence agencies to make sure the public can continue to have confidence in the vital work that they do to keep us safe”. Labour seems to want to further expand surveillance laws as well as privacy. It is unclear how more law and order and monitoring should go together with the protection of users’ fundamental rights, given that since 9/11 the tendency has been the expansion and intensification of surveillance and surveillance ideologies at the expense of privacy and civil rights.

Labour also wants to further expand the British defence and security industry: “The UK defence and security industry is a key contributor to our economy, with a turnover of £22 billion a year. We will work to secure defence jobs across the UK, protect the supply chain and support industry to grow Britain’s defence exports. In partnership with industry, we will put accountability, value for money, interoperability and sustainability at the centre of defence procurement”.

Labour’s Internet politics promises digital capitalism with a bit of public service for the digitally excluded as well as the paradoxical combination of fostering law and order and civil liberties. It wants to appeal to everyone – from the left-wing activist concerned about monopoly power, human rights violations and Internet surveillance to the right-wing extremist fearing a terrorist and criminal attack all over the Internet and in every neighbourhood with a population consisting of more than zero non-whites. Such Internet politics that wants to appeal to everyone turns out to stand for nothing.

Neoliberalism and Empty Promises

In relation to the information economy, the Liberal Democrats pursue a neoliberal innovation strategy that develops this sector of the economy in a purely capitalist way: “The UK’s creative sector has been one of the great success stories of the past five years, and a critical driver of our recovery. […] We will: […] Support growth in the creative industries, including video gaming, by continuing to support the Creative Industries Council, promoting creative skills, supporting modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules, and addressing the barriers to finance faced by small creative businesses”. The Lib Dems say they will work “to deepen the EU single market in the energy sector, in the digital economy and for services.”

The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto appears to offer a programme of transformation for those who are concerned about the violation of civil rights online. It promises “a complete overhaul of surveillance powers in 2016”, to “[e]nsure proper oversight of the security services”, and to pass a Digital Bill of Rights.

Such a Bill enshrines “the principle that everyone has the right to control their own personal data”, gives “increased powers and resources for the Information Commissioner and introduce custodial sentences for egregious breaches of the Data Protection Act”, ensures “that privacy policies and terms and conditions of online services, including smartphone apps, must be clear, concise and easy for the user to understand”, protects “free speech by ensuring insulting words, jokes, and non-intentional acts, are not treated as criminal, and that social media communications are not treated more harshly than other media”, opposes “the blanket collection of UK residents’ personal communications by the police or the intelligence agencies”, and gives the state “[a]ccess to metadata, live content, or the stored content of personal communications […] only […] without consent where there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or to prevent threats to life”.

On the one hand the Lib Dems put emphasis on policing. They want to “[e]nsure we continue to provide the appropriate resources to the police and intelligence agencies to meet the threat, including of cyber attack” and “[r]ecognise the expansion of warfare into the cybersphere, by investing in our security and intelligence services and acting to counter cyber attacks”. On the other hand, they do not believe in policing civil society and social media and therefore say they want to “[w]ork with religious and community leaders, civil society groups and social media sites to counter the narratives put forward by extremists, and create the space for the expression of contrary viewpoints and religious interpretations”.

The general approach is that the Liberal Democrats believe that “security and liberty are two sides of the same coin: you cannot have one without the other. The police and intelligence agencies do vital work to protect the public and we are rightly proud of them. But we always have to be vigilant that the state does not overreach itself, as it has done at times through corruption, heavy-handedness or illiberal laws”.

Doubts about this approach arise however for example when the Lib Dems state they want to “[e]stablish in legislation that the police and intelligence agencies should not obtain data on UK residents from foreign governments that it would not be legal to obtain in the UK under UK law”. The formulation can imply that it should be legal for the police and intelligence services to obtain data about non-UK residents from foreign governments, which proposes a nationalist separation: some privacy for British residents, surveillance of foreigners.

The Lib Dems’ promises to secure civil liberties on the Internet are overshadowed by the political reality created by their coalition government with the Tories in the years 2010-2015. During this period, policing of and surveillance on the Internet have been massively advanced. Since 2012, the Pirate Bay and other file sharing platforms have blocked in the UK. Although the Lib Dems blocked the Conservatives’ idea to pass a permanent Communications Data Bill that would have implemented a 12-month retention of all connection data from phones, e-mail, Internet browsing, online games and social networks, they supported passing the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (DRIP) as express law in July 2014. DRIP implemented a requirement of communication network providers to retain communications connection data for up to 12 months after the European Court of Justice had declared such retention unconstitutional. It allows UK authorities to obtain communications data from operators located outside the UK that collect data for communications conducted over systems they provide and that are used by people inside the UK. It also extends the definition of “telecommunication service” in a way that makes interception of content with the help of a warrant and the requirement to store connection data not just possible for phone and Internet service providers, but for all kind of Internet platforms in and outside the UK, including webmail providers, social media platforms, and all other platforms enabling online communication.

The Lib Dems were politically silent when the Investigatory Powers Tribunal found against the complaints by human rights groups Liberty, Privacy International and Amnesty International that the Tempora programme, under which the British spy agency GCHQ taps into fibre-optic cables, is legal under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000. The Lib Dems were again politically silent when the same Tribunal found that the sharing of intelligence data (phone and e-mail records) between GCHQ and the NSA was illegal for seven years until 2014.

The Lib Dems combine neoliberal information economy politics with promises about online civil liberties that have been violated by their own coalition government, which undermines credibility. A parallel is that in 2010 the Lib Dems’ election manifesto promised to “[s]crap unfair university tuition fees for all students taking their first degree, […] saving them over £10,000 each” and to “phase fees out over six years”, while they in actual politics together with the Tories tripled the fees to £9,000 per year. There is a gap between the Lib Dems’ political promises and reality, between their ideal and actual political world.

Social Democracy

To a certain extent, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is more of a classical social democratic party than Labour has been in a long time. Its manifesto suggest for example to end austerity, increase the minimum wage, end nuclear disarmament, expand public childcare, and increase public expenditures. For achieving the latter, it wants to increase taxes on high incomes, bankers’ bonuses and mansions as well as end tax avoidance by companies and individuals who are classified as resident, but not domiciled in the UK.

The SNP argues that “public sector organization should be able to bid to operate rail services, as allowed in EU law but currently prevented by UK legislation”. It wants to re-nationalise the Royal Mail, but other than the Green Party and Plaid Cymru does not explicitly demand the nationalisation of the rail system. The SNP wants to invest in infrastructures for renewable energy, rail transport and broadband in order to achieve an “improved connectivity and infrastructure that is fit for the 21st century”. It argues for a “more rapid roll out of superfast broadband and 4G across Scotland”, “increased investment in 4G”, to “support wider and affordable access to the internet in our most disadvantaged communities”, and to introduce a “Universal Service Obligation to be applied to telecoms and broadband providers ensuring everyone is able to access the communications they need”.
So in relation to communications infrastructure, the SNP wants to regulate private providers so that they have are obliged to provide services universally, for example also in the sparsely populated Scottish Highlands. Commercial providers tend to neglect remote and sparsely populated areas or to treat them differently because provision tends to be less profitable there.

A different approach however is to think of and support publicly and community-owned networks. The SNP is addressing this issue by suggesting free Wi-Fi in public buildings: “We also recognise the importance of improving access to the internet, especially for some of our more remote or disadvantaged communities. In government we are working to maximise the availability of high-speed broadband across Scotland and are also providing funding of £1.5 million to increase free provision of Wi-Fi in public buildings”. This approach could however be taken further by creating public Wi-Fi areas and financially supporting non-profit community-operated Wi-Fi areas. A public investment of £1.5 million is extremely modest.

In relation to surveillance, the SNP does not explicitly take an approach that focuses on fostering national security by advancing social security, as the Green Party does. But it speaks out against mass surveillance:  “We do not support Tory plans for the reintroduction of the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’, which would see all online activity of every person in the UK stored for a year. Instead, we need a proportionate response to extremism. That is why we will support targeted, and properly overseen, measures to identify suspected extremists and, if necessary, examine their online activity and communications”. The SNP also calls for being “more effective at combatting cyber-terrorism” and leaves open if this means a law and order- or a different strategy.

The SNP calls for tax reliefs and public support for the video games industry that is particularly strong in Scotland. It here however wants to publicly support an industry that is predominantly capitalist in character. A different approach could be taken by arguing that public support is especially provided to cultural, media and digital media companies if they are organised as non-profit, worker controlled co-operatives. The SNP has given up its idea to decrease the corporation tax in Scotland, but also its approach to make targeted tax cuts has a somewhat neoliberal aura.

Uneven Development

Wales is as a periphery within Britain. It faces social problems such as deindustrialisation, higher unemployment, deprivation and poverty as well as lower educational standards, life expectancy and wages than in England. Plaid Cymru’s manifesto is especially focused on fostering regional development and independence, which manifests itself also in its Internet politics.

The Report Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Wales concludes: “Wales has among the highest rates of child poverty in the UK, and that 119,000 older people are estimated to be living in poverty – as meanwhile, working-age poverty is also higher than the UK average. […] there are 
especially strong links in Wales, by international comparison, between socio-economic disadvantage and educational under-achievement. […] [There is] a less-than-reassuring picture of the prospects for improving housing for those in Wales on low incomes. […] health inequalities are widening, […] poor access to fuel, online resources, financial
 services and transport [contribute] to the wider sweep of inequality. 
For those committed to the aim of reducing such inequalities, the panoramic view is by no means a happy one”. The report Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Wales 2013 concludes: “The main problem in Wales is lack of jobs. […] Jobs will be scarce in Wales for a long time”.

Britain’s uneven regional development also affects access to, speed and use of the Internet. The report Broadband Internet in Wales (2013) argues: “Wales currently has the largest proportion of premises in potential not-spots, and the lowest availability of superfast – or next generation – broadband services in the UK. […] a number of Welsh local authorities are rated by Ofcom as being among the worst performing in the UK for broadband services. […] people in the South Wales Valleys are less likely to subscribe [to broadband] than those in the rest of Great Britain”.

Given that Wales is strongly affected by uneven social, economic and digital development, it is clear that regional development is a particular issue in Plaid Cymru’s election manifesto. Plaid Cymru opposes austerity, argues for economic fairness and devolvement, a Green New Deal, and employee ownership of companies.

In relation to Internet development, Plaid Cymru argues: “We want to see an improved broadband connection, getting everybody online so that people can do business from home, with a target that all parts of Wales have access to speeds of at least 30Mbps and ensure that mobile phone operators provide a better service in all parts of Wales”. Overcoming the regional digital divide that affects Wales faces the problem that Internet and telecommunications are non-devolved policy areas, meaning that the development of communication infrastructures is at the moment determined by agendas that aim at treating communication, technology and networks as for profit-businesses. Plaid Cymru supports “the public ownership of railways” and to turn “local newspapers” into “community assets” so that “owners could not close them without communities having the opportunity to keep their paper”. It does not apply the same logic to communications infrastructures, which would mean questioning the for-profit character of such networks and demanding community and/or public ownership of these networks.

Plaid Cymru favours a civic nationalism that aims at preserving and fostering the Welsh language and also manifests itself in its Internet politics: “We support establishing a new Welsh language multimedia service to operate online, on radio and other platforms, in order
to reflect the needs of Welsh language audiences and improve current affairs coverage in Wales”.

Although Plaid Cymru takes in general a progressive political position, it in at least one realm resorts to conservative control politics when it suggests technological control measures in order to tackle cyber attacks: “Increasing reliance upon technology leaves countries open to attack by foreign powers without the need for conventional weapons. We will bolster cyber-security defence capabilities to increase security and prevent cyber-attacks”.

The Greens’ Digital Agenda

The Green Party mentions Edward Snowden’s revelations directly and argues that mass surveillance must be avoided. It says it opposes “any case for secret unaccountable mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden. We do accept that government law enforcement agencies may occasionally need to intercept communications in specific circumstances. Such specific surveillance should be proportionate, necessary, effective and within the rule of law, with independent judicial approval and genuine parliamentary oversight”. According to the Greens, surveillance should only be possible if it is targeted at suspects and with judicial approval. State authorities and the technologies they use should be transparent, accountable and democratically controlled: “The Green Party supports a world of open, freely flowing information. We don’t want disproportionate or unaccountable surveillance or censorship. We want a transparent state, but we want control over the data that 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 would consider combining elements of the policies below into a comprehensive Digital Bill of Rights”. The Greens call for an overhaul of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

They like the Lib Dems suggest introduction of a Digital Bill of Rights. The one the Greens have in mind is however more advanced, not just suggesting to strengthen data protection and outlawing mass surveillance, but also making “copyright shorter in length, fair and flexible, and prevent patents applying to software”, introducing “a more satisfactory law on so-called malicious comments made on social media than the blanket and crude section 
127 of the Communications Act 2003”, opposing “the privatisation of data held by the government that should be open to all, such as the Postcode Address File, or by companies providing public services, such as data on the progress of buses that can be used by Smartphone apps to predict waiting times”, and opposing “the sale of personal data, such as health or tax records, for commercial or other ends”.

Although the Green Party’s Digital Bill of Rights has in general a politically progressive agenda, it does not extend to the realm of the communications infrastructure, in respect to which it only demands regulation that requires for-profit technology companies to roll out networks so that they are accessible to anyone: Government should “[e]nsure that all have digital access and give BT and other public telecommunications operators an obligation to provide affordable high-speed broadband-capable infrastructure to every household and small business. This in particular will encourage video- conferencing, helping to reduce both business and family travel”. The Greens do not extend their agenda to turn railways into a public service to communications networks. Both Plaid Cymru and the Greens question private control of railways and do not question private control of communications infrastructure, although both railways and communications are important transport infrastructures. The Green Party’s manifesto is titled “For the Common Good”, but forgets that also communication is a common good that is damaged if it is treated as a commodity.

In regard to the question of how to address terrorism and crime, the Greens question law and order politics and surveillance ideologies and suggest addressing these issues in terms of their context. “Crime has a context”: education, skills, employment, family life, equality, etc. “There is more crime in more unequal societies”. They argue for creating a secure society by providing social security: “education, employment and security for all – this is the heart of Green Party crime policy”. “Take proportionate measures to protect against terrorism, ensuring that civil liberties are not undermined in the process, that communities are not scapegoated and that action reflects a genuine assessment of the threat to our security. We need targeted policing and security service activities, not mass surveillance, prisons that rehabilitate those convicted of terrorism offences and effective programmes to prevent radicalisation and to deradicalise individuals”.

Left-Wing Internet Politics?

Internet politics is not a major issue in the 2015 British election campaigns and manifestos. It gets some attention especially in relation to online privacy and surveillance after Snowden’s revelations.

The Tories and UKIP favour right-wing politics that see control and monitoring of the Internet as a solution to social and political problems. The Labour Party wants to appeal to everyone and to advance politics that at the same time advance control and freedom as well as digital capitalism and the public interest, which creates political paradoxes. The Liberal Democrats combine digital neoliberalism and a cyberlibertarian stress on online freedom that has been delegitimised by their support of right-wing control politics in a coalition with the Tories.

Plaid Cymru, the Green Party, and the SNP occupy a rather left-wing political position and demand the strengthening of public services as well as, in the case of Plaid Cymru and the SNP, the nationalisation of the railways. Their digital media strategies are however too tentative and to a certain degree give in to ideas of cyber-security and capitalist control of communication networks and platforms. They lack a more committed digital politics that aims at strengthening and decommodifying the communications and digital commons. The politics these three parties suggest certainl certainly have a potential for being developed into left-wing net politics, but at the moment lack visions and ideas.

Plaid Cymru favours employee ownership of companies. Co-operatives have since the start of the economic crisis in 2008 proliferated in many parts of the world, including Britain. The cultural and media sector is particularly attractive for young people. Fostering public support of this sector and combining it with the condition that young people form non-profit cultural, digital and media co-operatives could therefore be a promising alternative economic strategy.

The Internet economy is dominated by targeted advertising. Think for example of Google and Facebook: They are not communication companies, but the world’s largest advertising agencies. Advertising is hardly mentioned in the 2015 British election manifestos. The Lib Dems argue to “[r]estrict the marketing of junk food to children”. The Greens want to “[s]trengthen controls on advertising directed at children”. These two instances are the only times advertising is mentioned in the election manifestos.

That many people find advertising annoying, have privacy concerns about targeted advertising, that advertising is often biased and can foster economic concentration, and that the advertising industry exploits the unpaid labour of users and audiences is not an issue in the election manifestos. One could think of introducing an advertising tax and using the resulting state revenues for funding non-profit media organisations, non-commercial journalism, alternative online projects, etc. and introducing a participatory media fee.

The SNP, the Greens, Plaid Cymru, and Labour want to ban Zero Hours contracts that are part of the problem of precarious labour. More could however be done to overcome precarious labour. One issue that is not addressed by any party manifesto concerns online freelancing. Online freelancing platforms are one of freelancers’ most used information sources when looking for work. They are however also largely unregulated. Given that these platforms are online and make freelancers compete against each other globally, the introduction of a reasonable minimum wage for online freelancing at the European and transnational level would therefore help to challenge the problem of low remuneration in the online freelance and sharing economy. One must take into account that most online freelancing is professional knowledge work, so a minimum wage at the level of the national minimum wage won’t suffice.

Internet politics is a minority issue in the 2015 British election campaigns. No party has a full-fledged left-wing Internet strategy, although there are certainly opportunities to think about what progressive digital politics should mean today.

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