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Martha Lane Fox: Government 'woefully quiet' on GCHQ spying revelations

Matthew Finnegan | Jan. 20, 2014
Baroness Martha Lane Fox has criticised the government as "woefully quiet" in the wake of the NSA snooping revelations, claiming that the US has made more effort to open discussion around data security.

Baroness Martha Lane Fox has criticised the government as "woefully quiet" in the wake of the NSA snooping revelations, claiming that the US has made more effort to open discussion around data security and privacy.

Former government digital champion Lane Fox claimed in a Lord's debate on Thursday that the government has so far failed to address GCHQ's involvement in allegations of widespread data gathering revealed by Edward Snowden last year.

"The political discourse lags far behind that of the US, where an expert panel has looked into the NSA's claims about the necessity of data gathering and found that only one case was solved by the bulk collection of data,"said Lane Fox.

"We are woefully quiet on the subject of liberty versus security. Allegations that GCHQ and the NSA worked to undermine encryption should caution anyone who trusts the web with their medical, financial or personal records."

It was revealed today that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has collected and stored almost 200 million text messages a day from around the world, according tothe Guardian. GCHQ is using this data routinely, the Guardian revealled.

Speaking at the Lords debate ahead of the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, Lane Fox highlighted the impact that the web has had in a short time, from driving the Tech City start-up scene and supporting online commerce to Whitehall embracing the web, to the introduction of the Government Digital Service.

However she added that there are many challenges to be faced with the future of the web, with 11 million UK adults lacking basic online skills. Of these, she said, 50 percent are of working age in a country where 90 percent of new jobs require basic online skills and many vacancies are advertised only online.

"In addition, only 30 percent of small businesses are able to transact online, meaning that they miss out on both huge sales and savings," she said, adding that it is estimated that there is £68 billion of value to the economy if adult skills problems are addressed.

Lane Fox resigned from her role of UK digital champion in November following three years in the role, after becoming the youngest female member of the House of Lords.

 

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