An article published on Business Insider by the law firm Snells Law has raised concerns that a proposed bill to allow businesses to charge a small surcharge for providing customers with online data could undermine the free market by stifling competition and discouraging legitimate businesses from investing in the technology.
The law is aimed at limiting the use of internet data to help protect customers from fraud, and it would apply to businesses offering data to consumers, such as health care providers, banks, and other companies that offer services to consumers.
The proposed bill would also require internet service providers (ISPs) to give consumers an opt-out, which the law does not.
The bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the House of Commons for final passage.
It is not clear when the legislation will become law.
Snells’ research found that the proposed bill could potentially undermine the ability of businesses to compete in the digital economy by creating barriers to entry for legitimate companies that rely on the internet to serve their customers.
“The bill could prevent legitimate businesses in the UK from investing their profits into technology and could create barriers to innovation, leading to higher costs and higher prices for consumers,” the law firms wrote in a recent blog post.
“While there is no indication the bill will be passed, it’s important that the bill is scrutinised and tested in court before it becomes law.
Consumers deserve to know if the proposed law is good for them and they should have the right to opt out of the bill.
The UK is the first country in the world to have a snell bill, but it is a very complex bill, and will be subject to further scrutiny.”
Snells warned that the introduction of the snll bill could be used by politicians and regulators to create “a new regulatory regime, which would be aimed at protecting incumbent companies against the competitive pressures from competitors, including those that are not in the public interest.”
The bill is being written by the Government Innovation and Skills (IIS) Committee, which has been criticised for not acting to stop a planned “data-sharing” bill that is set to be debated in the House.
The “data sharing” bill, proposed by Conservative MP Nick Herbert, would see firms offer data in return for the right for consumers to be able to access the data.
Under the proposed legislation, companies would be required to share data about consumers with ISPs and social media companies.
Herbert’s bill is set for debate next week in the Commons.
It would also allow for the government to require companies to disclose their data to regulators, which could lead to restrictions on the sharing of data, and the establishment of an independent data protection watchdog.
“Consumers deserve to have the power to decide whether their data is shared with the public sector, but this bill would restrict this right and undermine competition in the market place,” the Snells law firm wrote.
“As consumers, we have no confidence in the Government’s ability to protect them from the dangers of data sharing.”