11 January 2006 Members of Parliament look set to have a ban on using wireless technologies lifted after an influential committee concluded the lack of Wifi access was hampering work.
The House of Commons Administration Committee reported that many new MPs, who entered Parliament after last year’s general election, were being hindered by a lack of office space and inability to access wireless networks.
One MP, Adam Afriyie, even had to resort to using a wireless LAN supplied by a local coffee shop in order to get work done.
The Committee has recommended that secure wireless internet access be provided in shared areas most likely to be used by MPs, including libraries, temporary offices and lobbies, and that secure, Wifi-enabled laptops be supplied to those who need them.
In its latest report the Administration Committee concluded: “We appreciate the security and viability issues around wireless internet access, but believe that it should be possible to overcome these difficulties.”
The decision to introduce Wifi hotspots marks the end of a curious ban on wireless technologies within Westminster.
The House of Commons Commission, which oversees the administration issues concerning MPs, banned wireless technologies within the Houses of Parliament following alarm over information security.
In 2004, journalists from The Times found that many MP’s mobile phones were vulnerable to so-called ‘bluesnarfing’ attacks – which can use unprotected Bluetooth connections to gain access to data held on the phone.
But now it appears that the blanket ban is seen as harming productivity. “We recommend that wireless internet access should be provided in those areas likely to be of most use to members,” the Committee report concluded.