19 May 2015

One of the lessons I’ve learnt about business over the years – and indeed about life – is the importance of transparency. Whether it’s your customers, your employees or your loved ones, it pays to be clear, open and honest. With that in mind, you can imagine how I felt reading about the sly amendments made quietly by the government to the Computer Misuse Act.

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Is it right that GCHQ employees are exempt from hacking laws?

The amendments, which came into force in May, have essentially given permission for intelligence officers, GCHQ staff and the police to hack into computers, databases and mobile devices. So they are immune from prosecution if they break into someone’s system.

What concerns me about this is the way these changes were made, without any public discussion and apparently even without proper parliamentary debate.

By seemingly avoiding attracting any attention, the government has actually done the opposite and they now have the eyes of the public on them, risking widening the gap between politicians and the people.

I’ve said it before, but when you give people huge amounts of power and responsibility you run the risk of it being exploited, as there is always someone willing to push the boundaries. I understand there are issues of national security to contend with, but you also have to question what damage you cause when you compromise people’s trust and remove accountability from a select few.

In the words of Lord Acton: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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