The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) has warned that changes to consumer rights legislation could undermine its attempts to catch those using unlicensed software in the act.
A proposed amendment to the draft Consumer Rights Bill requires that Trading Standards officers provide written notice two days before they conduct an inspection of commercial premises.
FAST has worked with Trading Standards over the past few years targeting specific cities in the UK using the technique of inspections along with educational efforts to get across a message around the importance of respecting intellectual property.
“The Bill in its current form poses a challenge to Trading Standards officers and their ability to catch rogue traders and therefore prevent wrongdoing. FAST is reliant on Trading Standards Officers using their powers of no notice inspection to deter the sale of counterfeit and pirated software," said Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at FAST.
“But this proposal could mean that certain illicit activity may slip through the net unnoticed. Trading Standards may be put off from checks under a notice requirement regime. With rogue traders, a two-day notice period is ample time to destroy any evidence let alone that in digital form. A trader may hide illicit goods, which are for sale to consumers, but are kept under the counter," he added.