By August 14, 2015EU insight

By the London technology team

Data Protection Regulation confirmed for 2017

The EU has finally agreed that the General Data Protection Regulation will come in to force in December 2017, with talks between Parliament, the Commission and Council set to conclude by the end of this year.

This new Regulation will overhaul the way data can be used by businesses, with consumers being able to opt out of handing over data, new safeguards and making it harder for businesses to target adverts at individuals (the Internet Advertising Bureau expect ad revenue to fall £633m a year).

Aside from limiting a practice that has revolutionised the way firms advertise and sell online, the  Ministry of Justice has estimated that compliance with the new Regulation could cost business £320m a year.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered, and opportunities to engage with the process and Information Age carried a story on the implementation date and potential ramifications.

Bracken waves goodbye to the Government Digital Service

The outgoing head of the Government Digital Service (GDS) Mike Bracken gave an interview to ComputerWeekly on his departure.

The GDS has been praised for transforming the way people access Government services, and is credited with getting the Government to embrace technology to drive efficiencies and make it easier for people to access Government services. The new GOV.UK was listed for design awards and the GDS has been used as a template for digital public services across the world.

In the interview, Bracken expressed frustration with the civil service structure and the nature of the electoral cycle which results in a new swathe of Ministers and Permanent Secretaries with their own priorities that need persuading on the benefits of going digital. Bracken said that this short termism and year to year budgets made it difficult to accelerate the digitalisation of Government.

Illegal sales rising on the dark web

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have claimed that sales of illicit goods (such as firearms and drugs) on the ‘dark web’ now value £115m.  The dark web indexes the bits of the Internet not accessible from search engines and users use browsers like Tor to mask their ISP address and in theory hide their activities, which makes it attractive to those looking to sell illegal goods with relatively low risks.

Combined with the rise of digital currencies like Bitcoin, the research says markets for illegal materials have flourished since the most famous dark web marketplace ‘the Silk Road’ was taken down in 2013. The researchers state that the publicity generated by the takedown has drawn attention to the existence of  these markets and fuelled growth in new marketsplaces.

Whilst law enforcement understandably want to combat crime on the dark web, not everybody welcomes attempts to break the underlying technology, as it is often the only way for people living under repressive regimes to freely use the Internet.

The research was widely covered, with The Times covering it well.