Digital Dignity: The never ending race against technology

Technology advancements over the last ten years have been at such a pace that legislation hasn’t been able to keep up.

As a result, governments are rushing to push laws through in order to keep some sort of control. It is right that we need new laws to protect ourselves online, but we can’t put them in place without due care and attention.

Much has been said about privacy rights, and with the introduction of the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ EU legislators are taking the first step towards restoring digital dignity.

We only need to look at the proliferation of stories about online harassment and so-called ‘revenge porn’ to know that something needs to be done.

This is starting to take effect. In September a man was jailed for 18 weeks for sending abusive messages via Twitter to Labour MP Stella Creasy after a campaign to put Jane Austen on the £10 note.

While the UK government seems to be doing all it can to bring law and order to the Internet, it also seems to be taking a much more relaxed view when it comes to accessing the information it wants.

Earlier in the summer, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers (DRIP) bill was introduced. The bill requires Internet Service Providers and data providers to retain extensive customer data for the government to investigate as it wishes.

Given how long it has taken for other laws to make their way through parliament it is disturbing that it only took two days of debate for DRIP to become law. This in spite of the extremely complex nature of the technology and the implications of such a law on businesses and individuals.

The bill was a result of the EU Data Retention Law being declared invalid in April. So in reality very little will change.

But the question still remains why was it rushed through so quickly without the care and attention that should have been spent on it. Two Westminster civil liberties campaigners, Tom Watson and David Davis, have also been quick to raise questions about the speed.

As a result, they are mounting a high court legal challenge against the law. Davis said he was taking this step as the bill was “driven through the House of Commons with ridiculous and unnecessary haste to meet a completely artificial emergency”.

We only need to look at the impact the PRISM revelations had on the US government, and consequently US businesses, to know that we could see a knock on effect to British businesses. Especially as the EU declared its similar law invalid.

These sorts of powers leave businesses feeling very uneasy about what they do and don’t do online. Could this lead to more prospects requesting removal of details or not signing up to receive company information?

This in turn impacts a business’ marketing campaigns and, ultimately, its revenue.

One crucial part of a business’ marketing function is its contribution to the lead pipeline. Many businesses attend conferences and hold events in order to network and build their list of potential customers.

The impact this law could have on people’s willingness to hand over personal details could be substantial.

Not just because the government can request it from data providers and investigate it as it wishes. What if the wrong person gets their hands on sensitive company materials or information about a product launch? We seriously need to consider the damage to a business’ reputation this could cause.

Despite the impacts it may have, it is the speed at which this law was passed through parliament that is of the greatest concern.

Yes, the laws haven’t kept up with technology but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take due care and consideration to ensure the laws put in don’t impact privacy while also meeting the demands of technology advancements.

Despite the impacts it may have, it is the speed at which this law was passed through parliament that is of the greatest concern.

Yes, the laws haven’t kept up with technology but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take due care and consideration to ensure the laws put in don’t impact privacy while also meeting the demands of technology advancements.

Richard Harrison, managing director, UK, Reputation.com

Tel: 0800 0664 781

Email: uksales@reputation.com

Web: Reputation.com

Twitter: @Reputation_Com

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