U.K. Chambers Head Slams “Contradictory” E-Regulations

London, ENGLAND — Speaking at the Global Knowledge Conference in London,
Chris Humphries, director general of the British Chambers of
Commerce (BCC), is expected to say that U.K. government regulations
on e-business are becoming overlapping and contradictory, according
to advance information.

Humphries has been keeping an especially wary eye on regulatory
developments, following the U.K. government’s White Paper on the
knowledge economy earlier this month. He said the White Paper
was not the giant leap that was hoped for by business.

While welcoming the government’s stated commitment to the expansion of
e-business in the U.K., Humphries said there was still a danger that
the introduction of unnecessary regulation on e-business and e-commerce
could threaten much of the government’s good work.

“The Data Protection Commissioner’s recent draft Code of Practice presents
a particularly opaque and confused range of recommendations that could
act as barriers to growth in this area,” said Humphries.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) represents more than 135,000
businesses, large and small, in all sectors of the U.K. economy.
The various chambers represent the interests of these businesses
and at the top level the BCC tries to influence government policy
to secure a favorable climate for business activity in the U.K.

Unlike previous Labour governments, the current regime is seen
to be “business friendly,” and the BCC is not necessarily being
partisan in its criticism of the growing number of e-business
regulations.

At the forthcoming BCC National Conference to be held in
Westminster, March 27-28, there will be speakers from all
the major parties. The line-up includes Conservative leader
William Hague and Liberal Demoncrat leader Charles Kennedy
as well as Jack Straw, Stephen Byers, Lord Macdonald, John Monks
and DeAnne Julius.

Politics aside, it is probably more significant that the BCC’s
annual event — which comes just before a general election —
is being sponsored by Cisco Systems.

Nonetheless, Humphries is being extremely critical of the
government in his latest remarks. Calling regulation the
“mother’s milk” of Whitehall, he says that the tendency
to over-regulate has to be resisted.

In the rush to legislate and regulate new technologies,
government is in danger of disabling rather than enabling
the development of e-business, according to Humphries.

The comments will be unwelcome to Prime Minister Tony
Blair whose has spearheaded the government’s drive to
make the U.K. the world’s most attractive economy for
conducting e-commerce.

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