Friday, June 15, 2012

Communications Data Bill


I do realise that it is hard to change the mind of the Home Secretary.

Somehow, there has to be a way of making it clear to her that the Internet is not like a news channel and tinkering at the edges will only bring her more grief than the problems it solves, is economically damaging and panders to vested interests. The draft Communications Data Bill is bad law for a number of reasons.

Her proposals can be avoided by real criminals. Her proposals will present opportunities for drip drip drip criticism of the security services. There will be a regular occurrence of high profile mistakes as innocent people are caught in this complex concept. Most of these issues will haunt the The Secretary of State and will bring government into disrepute for little good outcome. It is bad law.

These latest proposal are weak and cannot be effectively implemented to achieve the stated goal.

Most significantly her proposals are economically damaging.

She probably does not realise that the internet is contributing nearly as much as the financial services sector to the UK economy. The A T Kearney report is a recent example in a long line that reveal such data.

Important points are: 

  • Total U.K. Internet traffic is expected to increase by an average of 37 percent every year between 2010 and 2015.  
  • The U.K. Internet ecosystem is worth £82 billion a year.  
  • Every £1 spent on Internet connectivity—mobile and fixed broadband networks—currently supports £5 in wider revenue for the U.K. ecosystem. 
  • Of the total £82 billion U.K. Internet economy, £37 billion is in the Internet value chain and £45 billion in the e-commerce it supports. 
  • The value chain is 2.6 percent of the country's GDP, while e-commerce is a further 3.1 percent a total of 5.7% of the British economy and unlike most others is growing at a double digit rate.,

Double digit growth is very important for the economy which elsewhere continues in recession and especially a part of the economy that is this big.

The Home Secretary is presenting proposals that will be a burden for this sector.

Of course, there is every reason why some sectors would want to be able to invite the security services to identify people using the internet to, for example, download protected intellectual property such as music, films and newspaper stories protected by the Newspaper Licensing Agency (i.e. nearly every national newspaper whose news story URL's are protected as well as the story content - and should not be used by MP's either!). Some of the pressures, advice and lobby affecting the Home Office will be from such vested interest.

There are many issues involved here and most notably the democratic, social, cultural and economic advantage of development of IP for the economy. This is not a matter for the Home Office but it is being brought into this debate through the proposed legislation.

The Home Secretary is, I am sure aware of such pressures and the prospect of related vested interests and their third party supporters.

I am sure that the emotive headlines grabbing  story about protecting young people and the the vulnerable will, no doubt be headlines in newspapers who count among the vested interests and that they pose yet another threat at a time when the Media is desperate to 'get its own back'. I have no doubt that the Home Secretary is capable of weighing such influences in the national interest and can examine more effective means to protect society.