The UK may be hurtling towards a General Election, but that has not stopped the Prime Minister from unveiling his bold plans for ‘Digital Britain’. It might seem pertinent to check whether he is really serious: after all, achieving it is going to cause ‘a right kerfuffle’.
On launching the latest initiative for a digital economy, Tony Bliar declared: "We are more dependent than ever on technology for our success and protection as a nation."
But there may be reason to question whether the PM is realy committed to, or understands fully the implications of, an Internet-led economy. Perhaps there is even room for suspicion that he seized upon the first thing that came to mind before announcing: "That one. I want that one."
Take the example of the Computer Misuse Act. The All Party Internet Group (APIG) has been seeking cross-party support for a review of the Act, whihc was originally drafted in 1990. Currently, the UK’s primary piece of legislation for tackling Internet-based crimes defines ‘computer’ too narrowly to include ‘new’ technologies PDAs and mobile phones. The Act does not even contain any specific provisions outlawing practices such as denial od service attacks.
Despite APIG’s best efforts, governmental support for a review has not been forthcoming. In the end, the MPs were forced to petition Parliament under the 10-minute rule – a mechanism that gives MPs just 10 minutes to win the support for their cause.
The lack of high-level support has not gone unnoticed in the technology industry. "Efforts to re-start a debate in parliament regarding the Computer Misuse Act are to be applauded, but a paltry 10-minute slot is not enough time or attention to give such an important issue. This lack of interest is an insult to British businesses, which are most at risk from cyber attacks," says Simon Perry, Computer Associates EMEA security VP.