Candidate Voices: Florence MacDonald

By Florence MacDonald, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Camborne and Redruth |

Candidate Voices: We want to give the opportunity for all candidates to voice their reason for running in this general election, in order to let voters find out how they plan to improve their constituency. The views are not those of The Falmouth Anchor, but of the candidates.

This election is dominated by huge issues such as the NHS, climate change, education (I am a teacher) and Brexit. And whilst I’m sure you’d love a recap of my stance on that last one (REMAIN), there are other, quieter, but no less important policies waiting patiently to be heard.

Technology has developed at a pace that no one was really prepared for. I’m sure some smarty pants foresaw the mess lying ahead, but we were too busy tweeting and companies too busy enjoying the profits. Now, we are awake to the dangers of companies such as Cambridge Analytica, with huge concerns over how they use our data and can even influence elections and referendums. With the growth of Artificial Intelligence presenting the next great technological challenge on the horizon, we need to be ready.

The Liberal Democrats have got your back. We need to reign it in and get back control of our personal data and the way in which big companies – and governments – use technologies.

It starts with the Lovelace Code of Ethics to make sure all use of personal data and AI is unbiased, transparent, accurate and respects privacy. Good start. With a code, comes consequences for companies that break the code and a body responsible for overseeing this. All courses relating to digital technologies must include teaching on ethics and the Code. I’m not a tech person, or a medical person for that matter, but I’m imagining a tech version of the Hippocratic oath!

Perhaps more innovatively, we are proposing a Citizen’s Assembly for you to determine when it’s appropriate for the government to use algorithms in decision making. We will also end the bulk collection of communications data and internet connection records and immediately halt the use of facial recognition surveillance by the police.

But my favourite proposal is this: develop a mechanism to allow the public (you and me) to share in the profits made by tech companies in the use of their (yours and mine) data. So, if a tech company is using my data for profit, I want some of it. To use another medical analogy, if I’m taking part in a trial, where you are using my information to learn about patterns, behaviour, results, then a) I need to know about it and sign up to it and b) I should benefit from it!