Celebrity photos leak: Lib Dems pledge a digital bill of rights to protect privacy in its election manifesto

Move comes after nude photographs of celebrities were stolen and published on the internet
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Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrats will pledge a crackdown on intimate images of people being posted online without their consent as part of the party's pre-election manifesto tomorrow.

Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said a digital bill of rights was "even more necessary" after nude photographs of many celebrities, including the Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and the model Kelly Brook, were stolen and then published on the internet.

The Lib Dems believe a digital bill of rights is needed to protect people's privacy and give them more control over their personal data. Within these rights would be an assurance that police and security service surveillance powers could not be increased without parliamentary approval.

Jilted lovers posting intimate pictures or videos of former partners, known (inaccurately) as "revenge porn", would be made illegal. Mr Huppert said the Lib Dems' plans would "allow for prison sentences". They are also trying to make such images a crime through an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill that is going through Parliament but won't know if they have succeeded until later this year.

"Protecting people's privacy is an essential part of building the society we want to live in, and when people violate that, there have to be proportionate powers available to hold those responsible to account," said Mr Huppert.

The pre-election manifesto pledges, which also include an £800m scheme to extend the 15 hours of free childcare for two-year-olds to all parents, a £2,000 rise in the personal tax allowance to £12,500 and an extension of the free school lunches programme to include seven to 11-year-olds, must be approved by the party's conference in Glasgow next month. The pre-election manifesto was due to be launched last week, but was delayed as Nick Clegg had to attend emergency meetings on the worsening international situation.

Prominent grassroots activists are angry, though, that the Lib Dem leaders have left them little time to propose amendments ahead of conference. Gareth Epps, who sits on the party's powerful federal policy committee, described the timescale as "farcical" in his blog.