Looking Ahead to 2013

Stephen Mosley MP, Co-Chair of Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum (PICTFOR)

By Stephen Mosley, Co-Chair, PICTFOR

Any attempt at predicting developments within the technology industry will always be laced with a degree of guesswork. But while the goalposts are continually moving, there are a few constants that we can safely assume will remain near the top of the agenda for the coming 12 months.

Broadband, for example, will undoubtedly stay a key priority for business, and the Government’s commitment to deliver the best superfast broadband network in Europe has certainly caught the industry’s imagination. Continuing demand for increased network speed and capacity are an ever-present at PICTFOR discussions, and the topic is set to dominate a lot of our agenda for the beginning of the year.

In addition, we mustn’t neglect the ever increasing use of mobile services. The ongoing rollout of 4G is all set to continue this trend, and next year’s 4G auction will certainly dominate its fair share of column inches.

Another issue likely to remain at the forefront of discussions over the coming 12 months is security. Cyber-based systems now underpin almost every aspect of the lives of billions of people across the globe. The ever increasing complexity of cyber attacks (flame and shamoon being just two examples from the past year) necessitates an ever more sophisticated defence.

With several landmark government projects set to go live in 2013 (such as Universal Credit and NHS Portable Patient Records), it could be make or break for the wider trend of increased online government services. It all hinges on whether the right balance can be sought between accessibility and security.

Online privacy will surely dominate the headlines at some point in the year as the contentious Communications Data Bill progresses through Parliament. The pre-legislative scrutiny committee has now published its recommendations and it will be for the Home Secretary to convince Parliament that enough safeguards exist so as not to sacrifice personal privacy.

We could also see an increased level of scrutiny of the web in light of a number of recent developments. Lord Leveson’s report into press ethics, for example, largely neglected the role of online journalism in the wider debate, and question marks still linger of how to enforce the law in the Twittersphere and on various other social networking sites.

Furthermore, the recent report of the Public Accounts Committee on tax avoidance has brought new focus into many online companies’ tax arrangements in the UK. The likes of Google and Amazon have come in for criticism in the past few weeks and I would not be surprised to see greater scrutiny into web-based companies continuing into the new year.

Privacy, security, mobile technology; while most of us see these as progressive developments, they will undoubtedly bring new challenges for business.

As Co-Chair of PICTFOR, I look forward to engaging in these debates, and the many more that are set to rumble on throughout 2013.

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