Emergency surveillance laws face a difficult balancing act, says KPMG

Surveillance laws face a difficult balancing act

Tom Burton, a director in KPMG's cyber security practice, comments on news that an emergency surveillance law will be debated in Parliament on Monday.

Also on KPMG.com

Commenting on news that an emergency surveillance law will be debated in Parliament on Monday, Tom Burton, a director in KPMG's cyber security practice, says: “Communicating via text message, email or IM is something most people take for granted, but whilst the way we communicate has moved on rapidly in recent years, it is fair to say that the UK still needs a modern surveillance law to cope with the way that today’s preferred communication tools have become a central part of crime and terrorism.

“The current contradiction between EU and UK legislation is not in the interests of law enforcement agencies, the telecoms industry or the individual. That’s why regulations which will help protect citizen’s individual privacy are needed – but it has to be something that protects a fundamental human right, whilst protecting them from threats and criminal acts that span both the cyber and physical domains.

“That said, there is pressure on the State to do more. In a recent KPMG survey of consumer opinion, 76 per cent of the population said that the Government should do more to protect their online privacy. The Government is clearly under pressure to do more to defend citizens from cyber crime and unlawful surveillance, but there is a careful balancing act to avoid breaching individual privacy. Irrespective of this legislation, with its attendant sunset clause, this is a debate that is unlikely to go away, particularly while there is ambiguity around what powers exist where and for what purposes. The stated intent is to create greater clarity, which should be applauded, but there is also a long way to go.”


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Mike Petrook, KPMG Press Office

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About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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