Home Office’s controversial Data Communications Bill

With data protection laws in place, most information about individuals in the UK is kept strictly confidential. A new bill however which is to be introduced by the Home Office has been facing strong opposition from various groups. The Data Communications Bill could soon require companies to collect information about their customers, retain them and then provide the police with automated access to the system if such information is needed.

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The Home Office have said that this step needs to be taken in order to ‘keep the public safe’. Currently when requested by police, information is passed on from businesses, in order to maintain a stable society through cooperation. The bill however has been criticised by privacy campaigners, all types of businesses, and cyber security experts.

The proposed changes to be made by the bill could cost around £1.8 billion, with which comes several other problems. The plan is to be carried out by an internet based company, chosen by the Home Office, who would need to set up a database system to carry out these functions. The system would need to be able to collect new data, and store it. Automated access would then need to be given to the police, however which information is passed on to the police would remain discreet in the eyes of the business that initially had collected the data.

For small businesses in particular, the bill could seem quite a challenge with the additional cost of setting up a way to collect the necessary information and then to retain it. Tech startups could also be affected on all scales, national and international. On the global level UK startups could be at a disadvantage where negotiations fail as a result of the new data rules. New businessmen and businesswomen could eventually move their business elsewhere due to the strict penalties for breaches of data laws imposed by the European Union. Digital businesses could be faced with a major barrier in growth. Whether or not the new data laws will be a success yet remains to be seen!

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