According to analyst IDC, the UKis third in the world (behind Sweden and the US) in IT spending as a percentage of GDP. Despite that, fears are growing that the Government is losing the plot on the e-economy.
Last week it backed down on rushing through the consultation process on the RIP Act. Meanwhile, the home secretary Jack Straw penned a letter to Computer Weekly readers, assuring us that the Government has "listened to business" on the new cybersnooping laws.
It may be listening, but it is not hearing. Whether it is on the big picture of eroded confidence in the UK as an e-business venue, or on the "small" details - such as guidelines that could force firms to ban personal e-mails - the Government thinks crimestopping first, e-business second. It has pushed through a flawed Act which is now coming to pieces at the post-legislation "consultation" phase.
But the RIP debacle is only symptomatic of a wider problem. The Government is slow in understanding the measures needed to place the UK in the front rank of e-business.
Next week we will get the e-envoy's first annual progress report on the e-economy. It will no doubt be high on aspirations and "modernising" phraseology, and will contain a lot about computers in schools. But where is unmetered Internet access? Where is increased competition in telecoms? Where is a comprehensive plan to fill the widening IT skills gap? Where is online tax filing?
It's all delayed or pending. Part of the problem is that too few people in government understand the urgency of catching up with the UK's e-competitors. Another factor is the DTI, which treats every proposal for proactivity as a return to the 1960s and "backing winners".
Rapid roll out of fixed broadband to consumers, unmetered Internet access at a reasonable price, a co-ordinated plan to plug the skills gap, scrapping IR35, and repeal of the RIP Act - these measures are e-commerce winners, and the Government should back them.