Cancel the oppressive RIP Act, says Redwood

Former Conservative minister John Redwood replies to Jack Straw's defence of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in last...

Former Conservative minister John Redwood replies to Jack Straw's defence of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in last week's Computer Weekly.

This Government is good at saying one thing and doing another. The computer industry now knows this to its cost.

The Government proudly boasts that it will make the UK the silicon nation of western Europe, yet every action it takes makes that less and less likely. All it is good at doing is putting obstacles in the way of doing e-business from a British base.

Computer Weekly has done a great service in revealing the full dangers to business of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Act. The Opposition in Parliament has made these points, the industry has made these points, and the press has made these points.

Jack Straw does not seem to understand the force of the arguments being made.

If the UK insists on more expensive and more intrusive regulation of e-business than our neighbours offer, business will be lost to them. Ireland is doing a much better job at setting a tax and regulatory framework that makes sense for e-business.

The Government showed it was deaf to the good arguments of the industry over IR35.

Now some of our best consultants and entrepreneurs are setting up overseas to avoid this unnecessary imposition.

In this footloose modern world business can go at a touch of the button to a government which is more sympathetic to the needs of new industries and individuals.

The RIP Act as it stands will have a similar impact on e-business.

Why stay here and face the cost and hassle of interception and surveillance if you can go elsewhere and avoid it?

The Government should cool down and cancel this piece of legislation. It should study what other competitor countries are doing more thoroughly.

It should not wish to lead the world in offering the most oppressive regime for e-business.

It should listen to the industry, and draft legislation that gives it acceptable powers to tackle crime without making the e-industry carry the costs of government.

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