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E-services avoid UK

Groundswell The Germans set the rules, the British obey them, the French ignore them and the Italians don't even know they...

Groundswell The Germans set the rules, the British obey them, the French ignore them and the Italians don't even know they exist. How true for the UK - just look at the DTI's draft regulations on lawful business practice regarding the interception of communications.

Government wants to compel companies to allow employees to make unmonitored personal communications from their workplace. Lawyers believe this means over the corporate network.

That demand is enshrined in the European Human Rights Directive to be implemented this October. If a company wants to monitor personal communications it has to warn staff on each and every occasion that they could be monitored and why. The exception is that the security services do not need to inform individuals.

Over-hasty preparations for this directive have resulted in the Telecoms Data Protection Act and the flawed RIP Act, both of which extend the Government's powers to intercept digital communications. Impracticalities, unacceptable liabilities, over-complications, implementation costs and confusion are creating a nightmare for IT directors.

It's less than two months since this column warned that blue-chip companies are taking certain e-services out of the UK as a result. Since then I have gathered more off-the-record, but first-hand cases. So much for making the UK the best place to do e-business!

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