Open letter to political parties

Our colleague Jeni Tennison recently wrote this open letter to political parties contesting the UK General Election.

We hope all political parties in Wales will follow her two simple suggestions in the run up to the election and so we have republished her letter here and sent a copy the main parties in Wales.

Dear […]

The UK will have a general election on 8 June 2017. You and other political parties are putting forward candidates, creating a manifesto that says what you will do if you form part of the government after the election and campaigning for the votes of the electorate. If you form part of the next government, you will want to deliver your manifesto and policy ideas.

Like every other organisation you will find that in the 21st century data and technology are essential tools to help with all of these things.

Voters need to know what your policies are, who your candidates are and what those candidates think. To get this information to people you will need to collect, use and publish data online, and you will want people to trust that you are doing this in a way which is ethical. Meanwhile, if you get into power you will find that data and technology create new ways to deliver your policies in ways that meet the changed expectations of citizens.

Unfortunately, recent political campaigns have had common themes:

  • concerns over the use of personal data and targeted advertising
  • electoral processes that have not been adapted to the 21st century
  • a lack of debate over the changes to our society that are being brought about by the internet and world wide web

We are asking you today to make two simple enhancements to your practices in the run-up to the general election:

  1. Publish information about candidates as open data
  2. Openly state how you use and reuse personal data in the cause of your campaign

We, and many other people, can help you do this through providing advice, tools and guides. There is more detail about why we are asking this. Please let us know if you would like our support at any stage.

Our goal with this request, as with other things that we do, is to encourage the best use of data, to build people’s trust in how organisations use data and to help people make informed decisions. In this case, the decision people are making is who should represent them in our democratic system.

We are here to help and to work with you. Please email policy@theodi.org if you need support or would like to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely,

Jeni Tennison CEO Open Data Institute