25 June 2015
Yesterday, I read that yet another software company is leaving the UK over fears about the government’s reworked ‘Snooper’s Charter’. As someone who has championed British innovation – especially in the digital sector – for a long time, this development is worrying, to say the least.
The government’s plans for increased mass surveillance run the risk of stifling innovation in a big way. We already have a system that works, and until recently it was preferable to the USA’s, where the Patriot Act allowed the government to look through people’s data.
In the UK, under the current system, you have the assurance that nobody can access your data (we can’t access it as a hosting provider, it’s our clients’ property) unless a court has been involved and there is cause for concern. It’s been a big driving force, which helps us grow and keeps British data on British soil, and I would not welcome changes that give government officials further power. It’s not healthy and it’s fundamentally un-British.
Software companies are clearly concerned about the possibility of having to add backdoors to their products, and it’s true that people vote with their feet. Surely the government needs to start listening to the opinions of industry experts and realise that this suggestion is unworkable. I also doubt that it will help them catch the people they’re trying to catch. They won’t be able to keep up with the technology; it’ll be like whack-a-mole.
I’d love to hear from you if you’re a British company concerned about the government plans on mass data surveillance, weakened encryption and building backdoors into certain systems. If they go ahead, are we going to see an exodus of innovative British technology companies? I certainly hope not, for the sake of our economy.