Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 15:10 UK

Cameron pledges 'right to data'

David Cameron
Mr Cameron wants to create a 'post-bureaucratic' age

David Cameron has accused Labour of creating a "control state" and vowed a Tory government would hand power back to voters with a new "right to data".

The Tory leader said if his party won power it would publish information in 20 key areas in its first year.

This would range from crime statistics, schools' performance and hospitals to road traffic data.

Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to increase access to data and limit the powers of the state.

But in a speech at Imperial College in London, Mr Cameron accused Labour of eroding freedoms.

'Grim Ripa'

He said a future Conservative government would change the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which has been dubbed a "snooper's charter" by critics.

Referring to it as "the grim Ripa" he criticised its use by one council to "spy" on a family to check they lived in the right school catchment area.

And he said it would reconsider the use of stop and search powers under terrorism laws, which he said was used more than 120,000 times last year - a threefold increase on the previous year.

Today we are in danger of living in a control state

David Cameron

He also confirmed that a Conservative government would review the extradition treaty between the United Kingdom and the US and strengthen the right to trial by jury.

He said Labour had started off with "liberal intentions" but they had been "crushed, twisted and lost" by the "overwhelming dominance of political authoritarians".

"Today we are in danger of living in a control state," he said.

"Almost a million innocent citizens are caught in the web of the biggest DNA database in the world - larger than that of any dictatorship.

"Hundreds of shadowy powers allow officials to force their way past your front door.

"And soon we will be forced to surrender our fingerprints, eye scans and personal information to intrusive compulsory ID cards."

'Free data'

The Tories and Liberal Democrats say they would scrap the ID card scheme but the government says they will boost national security, tackle identity fraud and illegal working.

It also says there are no plans to make ID cards compulsory and any change to that position would require a vote in Parliament.

Mr Cameron also expanded on his concept of a "post-bureaucratic age" - one of the key policy themes of his leadership - by dismantling quangos and curbing the salaries of top public officials.

Tim Berners-Lee
Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been asked to open up access to government data

Citing the impact on Westminster of the publication of MPs' expenses claims, the Tory leader said: "The simple act of providing information to the public has triggered the biggest shake up in our political system for years."

He said it let people "take on the political class" and pledged to make more information available if the Conservatives win the next general election.

Most information available from more than 100,000 public bodies was not made public and that which was, was done so in a way that "can't be searched or used with other applications," he said.

"We're going to set this data free. In the first year of the next Conservative government, we will find the most useful information in 20 different areas ranging from information about the NHS to information about schools and road traffic - and publish it so people can use it.

"This information will be published proactively and regularly - and in a standardised format so that it can be mashed up and interacted with."

The government has said it wants to increase the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and is considering new curbs on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act - which it brought in - after revelations about some local councils using it to spy on minor offenders.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently recruited Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the worldwide web, to look into opening access to more government data.

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