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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): The threat posed to the United Kingdom by organised crime is assessed each year by the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS). NCIS' threat assessment for 2000 recognises that the impact of intellectual property
Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government deplore the use of unlicensed software and in July 1999 issued guidance to Public Sector Organisations reinforcing the code of conduct endorsed by FAST (Federation Against Software Theft). Standard government conditions of contract for the purchase of computer software seek to ensure that all software procured and used by government is correctly licensed.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: In the light of the discovery that systems supplied by a particular firm were loaded with counterfeit Microsoft software, the Association of Chief Police Officers is conducting an audit of software in use in a sample of police forces. This will provide some indication of whether the problem is confined to those particular systems or is more widespread. The findings will be available in the New Year.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The department believes that the effective use of computers in schools can help improve standards. The department is also determined to ensure that children's health and safety are protected at school, and we are continually looking to update our guidance and will maintain an interest in any relevant research. Earlier this year the department
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are considering improved approaches to the current arrangements for the management of people in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The aim of these changes which have been instigated by the Navy Board is to alleviate overstretch by lessening the impact on the individual of a high operational tempo and to reduce the turbulence which existing arrangements may produce. The benefits should include greater stability for members of the Naval Service and their families, both in geographical terms and in the predictability of their employment, and hence enable them to plan their lives with greater certainty.
The project is known as TOPMAST (Tomorrow's Personnel Management System). A basic concept has been outlined and will now be further developed. The concept is designed to provide the individual with quality sea time and properly managed time ashore, determined by reference to the individual rather than to the ship or unit, as under present arrangements.
TOPMAST will apply to all members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and is designed to enhance their quality of life while bringing greater flexibility to their employment. It is planned that these improvements will be implemented in phases, beginning to take effect from as early as late 2001, subject to the outcome of the next phase of development.
The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): ICANN's Government Advisory Committee (of which the UK is member) issued a communique on 14 July 2000 which covered, amongst other things, the funding of ICANN (http://www.icann.org/gac/communique-14ju100.htm). The communique recognised that country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) administrators should contribute towards the funding of ICANN and that collectively they should pay the allocation set out in ICANN's 1999-2000 budget but determine between themselves how much each should pay. The communique also encouraged ICANN to develop, in consultation with the ccTLD community and through a consensus based approach, appropriate criteria and mechanisms for calculating how much each ccTLD administrator should contribute annually to the future funding of ICANN.
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Under the Lawful Business Practice Regulations, businesses may have access to communications without the consent of the sender or recipient, for the purpose of monitoring or recording them for legitimate business purposes specified by the regulations. A business which complies with the regulations is exempt from liability under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
The regulations do not however affect the obligations which the Data Protection Act 1998 places on businesses regarding the processing of personal data. In particular, under that Act, any business undertaking the interception of communications should ensure that its collection, use and other processing of personal data is targeted and proportionate to the needs of the business.
The Data Protection Commissioner has issued for consultation a draft code of practice on the use of personal data in employer/employee relationships. When this is finalised in the New Year, it will provide comprehensive guidance on the application of the Data Protection Act and the regulations to practice in the workplace.
First, the level of debt being borne by the telecommunications sector indicates that a high level of investment is being undertaken. Additional investment, be it in networks, equipment, software and applications, must be to the ultimate benefit of the consumer and the telecommunications sector itself.
Second, the level of financing being provided by the financial markets indicates that they believe they understand the telecommunications sector and can model risk and return. Of more concern would be an industry sector which was unable to raise affordable finance.
Finally, I believe that the apparent willingness of telecoms firms to invest; the readiness of financial markets to provide finance to the sector; and the efficiency with which telecoms firms are managing their equity is positive for the future development and advancement of information technology. While there are continuing concerns voiced about debt in the telecoms sector, these seem as much to be about the exposure of lenders to the telecoms market as about the level of debt being borne by the sector as a whole.
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