PracticePeople In PracticeUK web laws to be tightened

UK web laws to be tightened

Science minister Lord Sainsbury has said that UK laws on tapping the web may be tightened in light of the terrorist attacks on the US. But he told a meeting at the Labour Party conference that the concerns of the IT industry would be taken seriously.

Lord Sainsbury told the Parliamentary IT Committee fringe meeting on Tuesday that technology policy would be reviewed, including the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the law requiring users of encryption to surrender keys to police with a warrant, or face a jail sentence.

He described the original version of the Act, which included ‘key escrow’ clauses requiring encryption users to provide copies of keys to the authorities, as ‘rather draconian’.

‘As we showed first time, we’re very conscious that you must do things that won’t damage the IT industry,’ he said.

Away from security questions, Lord Sainsbury warned IT firms that cutting research spending was a false economy. ‘I think it’s true that, when times are tough, hang on to your overall strategy,’ he said.

The science minister explained that the Government planned to work on boosting entrepreneurial levels in poorer parts of the country by increasing direct investment in startups.

‘It seems to be critical to our agenda of innovation that this is spread throughout the country,’ he said. ‘In 1999, there were 66 new businesses registered for every 100,000 people in London – this compares to 29 in Yorkshire and Humber, and 21 in the north east.’

On the issue of broadband usage, Lord Sainsbury rejected the argument that South Korea, one of the world’s highest users per head, should be seen as a model.

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Invasion of privacy“The South Koreans are mainly using broadband for gambling and pornography,” he said. “It’s not absolutely clear to me that this is leading to a better society.”

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