IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Google fears government internet snooping

Google fears that the Digital Economy Bill could give the government the right to spy on UK internet users.

Union Jack

Google has voiced its fears over the Digital Economy Bill, claiming that Clause 17 could lead to an increase in government scrutiny into the internet habits of users.

Clause 17 allows the government to change its laws on copyright in the future through statutory instrument, rather than a full legislative procedure.

In a blog post Sarah Hunter, Google's UK policy manager, said it feared Clause 17 could require the government to start gathering more information about users internet habits, even when nothing illegal had taken place.

"The first step required of any government using these new powers would be to carry out some sort of assessment of whether significant copyright infringements are taking place," she said.

"The assessment would have to be based on independent facts and what facts' other than through user data? Crucially, such an assessment would require examining the behaviour of all UK internet users. This is wrong."

Hunter said that Google "fiercely" protected the privacy of its users around the world, and did not believe that the fear of illegal activity justified intrusion everywhere on the internet.

Google understands why the government would try to make laws "future proof" to cope with technical change, according to Hunter, but she added: "...as we have said many times in the past, legislation is often like a slow moving tank in the internet world. Innovations happen faster than most politicians can even imagine, and to try and future proof laws requires laws so big and powerful that the risks of misuse far outweigh the benefits."

Google, eBay, Facebook and Yahoo have already written a letter to Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, warning that the clause risked "stifling innovation and damaging the government's vision for Digital Britain."

Featured Resources

Accelerating AI modernisation with data infrastructure

Generate business value from your AI initiatives

Free Download

Recommendations for managing AI risks

Integrate your external AI tool findings into your broader security programs

Free Download

Modernise your legacy databases in the cloud

An introduction to cloud databases

Free Download

Powering through to innovation

IT agility drive digital transformation

Free Download

Recommended

Government competition promises £12 million fund for UK tech startups
Business strategy

Government competition promises £12 million fund for UK tech startups

28 Jun 2022
Google Earth Engine open for business on Google Cloud, in corporate sustainability push
Cloud

Google Earth Engine open for business on Google Cloud, in corporate sustainability push

28 Jun 2022
New health data strategy to consult public on NHS data use
public sector

New health data strategy to consult public on NHS data use

13 Jun 2022
Second ransomware group attacks Costa Rica
ransomware

Second ransomware group attacks Costa Rica

1 Jun 2022

Most Popular

The UK's best cities for tech workers in 2022
Business strategy

The UK's best cities for tech workers in 2022

24 Jun 2022
LockBit 2.0 ransomware disguised as PDFs distributed in email attacks
Security

LockBit 2.0 ransomware disguised as PDFs distributed in email attacks

27 Jun 2022
Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%
Development

Salaries for the least popular programming languages surge as much as 44%

23 Jun 2022