12 May 2015

In the days since the Conservative Party’s general election win, much has been made of the Communications Data Bill, which was previously blocked from being passed by the Lib Dems along with much public resistance. Speculation about Theresa May’s plans to push this bill once again shows how concerned the British people are about this possibility; and it’s a concern I think the government cannot ignore.

4263193267_fb5cee0c57_zThere are already laws in place meaning that providers must hand over certain data to the authorities on request if they have a court order, and there’s no ISP in my mind who would hesitate to comply if there was strong enough suspicion that a server harboured harmful criminal activity.

However, I think the question of where you draw the line is an important one. As I wrote last week, when you give people huge amounts of power and control, you have to implement serious guidelines so they don’t push the boundaries, as there is always someone willing to do so, sadly.

I also think it’s important that no one is ever made immune to criticism, no matter what position they may hold within business or, in this case, the government. Whilst I’m more than happy to have backed the conservatives in this election, this doesn’t mean I will withhold any criticisms of their leadership style. I have written about Cameron’s misguided comments on encryption before and I hope he has rethought this notion in particular.

This isn’t to say criticism is always the best approach, however, as more often than not, people know when they have done something wrong and respond better to praise. However, being surrounded by yes men is equally risky.

I would hate the team at UKFast to think they could never challenge me, and I frequently follow up my own ideas with an invitation to do just that during meetings, as I know some people feel uncomfortable disagreeing. Yet it’s important to have this open channel of communication, and when we talk about a flat management structure, we really mean it. The people who know best about what your customers want are those at the coal face, speaking to those same customers every day. As a leader, you’re missing a trick if you don’t listen to their suggestions.

In my opinion, the same approach should also apply to politics, which is why David Cameron must canvas the opinion of the people who voted him into power for another five years. This was a huge vote of confidence and it’s one he and his cabinet must endeavour to respect. In this situation, I hope they take advice from professionals within the technology industry instead of making ill-informed choices on very little understanding of the way the internet works.

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