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STEM trip to the House of Lords

On Tuesday 7 November five of our Computer Scientists attended a luncheon debate about Data Security at the House of Lords.


After hearing 3 experts focus on measures, legislative and otherwise, that could help prevent, reduce or detect the large breaches of data we’re hearing so much about these days, the floor was opened to questions and a lively discussion ensued.

We heard how an advisory body is telling the Government that asking for a back-door into encryption systems poses more risks than it does benefits to the security services, and how the creation of a UK equivalent of DARPA (The US Defence Advance Research Project Agency) would help drive innovation and technological advances need in the field. Legislation to ensure all operating systems provide detailed audit trails would allow investigators a better chance to detect and investigate intrusions plus the ethical debate around the responsibilities of the big companies such as Google or Facebook to police content and access vs Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s vision of a “free” web were discussed, especially in the light of “bot” driven interference in the Brexit debate and US presidential elections.

Benedict led off the Q&A asking whether Open Source software would be subjected to legislation as it lies in the domain of an open community of developers as oppose to being the responsibility of a corporate entity. As we enjoyed our splendid luncheon in the Cholmondeley rooms over-looking the Thames, distracted only by a tennis ball playing seagull and the odd boat or ferry, the questioning of our experts continued and they all handled the array of issues in a manner that was informative and accessible to all who attended, hopefully including all the politicians!