A new bill that aims to make it easier for manufacturers to sell devices with built-in internet-connected features has been tabled in the Commons.
The Communications (Data Protection) Bill 2015 will give manufacturers the legal right to embed webcams, microphones, and other wireless devices in consumer products, including those manufactured by Google and other companies.
The bill also introduces new measures to prevent “invasive surveillance” of communications.
But it has also been criticised by consumer groups, including the Advertising Standards Authority and consumer rights campaigners.
Here’s a guide to what the bill is and why it matters.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
The legislation aims to “ensure that the digital economy is protected against intrusions into the privacy of consumers, and against intrusive surveillance by third parties”.
It includes measures aimed at protecting consumers from the “broad surveillance” activities of the US National Security Agency, the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and the US Government Communications Security Establishment (GCSB).
Under the legislation, manufacturers would have to disclose all the devices they sell on the internet to the authorities.
The government would then have the power to access those data for specific purposes.
It makes it easier to block or delete “invasions” of online content by using new rules for the UK.
It also makes it more difficult for manufacturers and sellers of products to use “cookie” technology that stores data about a user’s browsing history.
Critics of the legislation say it has a chilling effect on innovation and consumer choice.
How can I get involved?
The Government has said it wants to introduce the legislation “within months”.
The draft bill has been sent to the House of Lords, where it is expected to pass.
But the Government’s spokesman on digital issues, Richard Graham, said: “The draft bill is now ready to move ahead with debate in the House.”
The Government has taken a hard look at the current legislation and will be introducing a revised and more effective bill that protects the privacy and security of UK citizens and businesses, while helping to secure the internet and safeguard the free flow of information online.
“HOW DO I OBTAIN INFORMATION ON THE INTERNET?
You can access your local council’s internet website and use the website to get information about the local council, including contact details and the council’s rules.
Alternatively, you can use the Google Search Engine to search for information about local councils and the relevant laws, rules, regulations and policies.
WHAT CAN I DO IF MY LIFETIME SERVICE HAS BEEN DONE IN A COMMUNITY?
You have two options for dealing with this situation: report it to your local authority or get advice from your GP or doctor.
If your service has been delayed because of a decision by your local authorities, you should first contact the local authority concerned.
You can also write to your nearest council.
WHAT ARE THE PROTECTIONS FOR MY PERSONAL DATA?
The law does not specifically say you have to store any personal data for any reason, but there are a number of exceptions.
The data that is held will generally be exempt from the retention obligations, and you will not be required to retain it for a longer period than necessary.
If you need to make a change to a device, you will be able to make that change within 14 days of the device being bought.
If the data is not relevant to your personal data, the data can be retained only if it is not used to cause harm.
This means that you can delete data that can be used to prevent or detect fraud or to identify people with serious health problems, or that is irrelevant to your business or personal affairs.
If a data retention order has been entered against you, you must comply with the order in order to comply with your data retention obligations.
However, you may be able find out whether a data storage order is in place and what it covers, by contacting your local police.
If this is not possible, you could also contact your local information commissioner.
WHO IS COVERED?
You will be covered if you are an individual who has your internet use “necessary to make or carry on your business, or your essential job”.
If you have your internet usage “necessary for the purpose of providing your business services” or “necessary in connection with the supply of essential goods or services”.
This includes websites that you use to provide goods and services to your customers.
The law doesn’t cover websites you use for online shopping.
The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) also apply to online activity.
How long does the retention period last?
The retention period depends on how the data has been stored.
For example, if you’ve received your device from an overseas manufacturer, you might be able for the first two years after your purchase to remove the device from the UK, but the data will be retained for a further two years.
If it was sent to you by a UK manufacturer, the retention is up to five years.
WHAT IF I DO NOT HAVE A LOCAL REGULATION?