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[FYI] The dangers of a big bang approach


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 Issue date: 15 July 1999
 Article source: Computer Weekly News 
 The dangers of a big bang approach 
 Alan Duncan MP, Conservative spokesman on IT issues,
 says the e-commerce Bill must be reframed 

 Last week I revealed to Computer Weekly that the Opposition
 would not be duped into accepting a dog's breakfast of
 legislation by waving through the Government's draft
 e-commerce Bill. This week I hope to explain our concerns in

 The Bill should be about building confidence in new technology
 and stimulating its use in the UK. We strongly believe that
 confirmation that electronic signatures are legal would go a long way
 towards achieving this. 

 Ian Taylor began this process as science minister three years
 ago. Since then technical opinion has moved on, and it has
 become ever more clear that we need to be wary of a "big bang
 approach" which ignores the fact that technology is not fixed,
 and that bad law can soon become a constraint on its progress. 

 Going beyond a minimalist approach risks locking industry into
 fossilised technology. The Germans made this mistake when
 they legislated way back in 1994. We need to learn from their
 mistakes. An industry as fast moving as e-commerce needs the
 flexibility to go down new paths - wherever the technology takes it. 

 An ideal Bill would therefore be no more than a few pages. It
 would guarantee signatures required for e-commerce, but firmly
 separate law enforcement issues from e-commerce facilitation. It
 would relieve industry of uncertainty, not by casting cryptography
 services in stone, but by allowing the industry to self-regulate. 


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