When IT Meets Politics

Jun 4 2013   2:07PM GMT

Caught between the Communications Bill, the Patriot Act and Anglo-US “mutual assistance” agreements

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Home Office
Intellectual property

Press cover for the supposed letter from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter to Theresa May needs to be placed in context. “Highly contentious” puts their position mildly. They are “between a rock and a hard place” when it comes to the Communications Bill as drafted. The interplay between UK and US surveillance legislation needs to be seen in the context of mutual assistance agreements which go back to the early days of Bletchley Park as well as the evolving structure both of the Internet and of the physical communications infrastructures over which it runs.

Hence my comments on the need for a serious review of what it is that we really do wish to achieve and the means of doing so. That means cutting across a number of agendas: from the cyber warfare and defence responsibilities of the MoD and Foreign Office through the “defence of the realm” and the law enforcement agendas of the Home Office and Ministry of Justice and the Intellectual Property rights agendas of BIS and DCMS to whether the Treasury really does want the tax revenues that should be generated were the UK to become a natural “home” for globally trusted on-line operations.

We should also be aware that other nations will be only too delighted for us to fail – while mouthing weasel words of support. 

Where and how will those agendas be brought together, given the short term vested interests of the various players?  Hmmmm ?   

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