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CBI to lobby against anti-IT bill

'No single person' can explain why draft includes sysadmins

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Updated The Confederation of British Industry is to enter the fray regarding a new Bill about to go through Parliament that could require all IT professionals to apply for a licence from the Home Office.

The Bill's aim is to tackle people such as bouncers and wheelclampers, who currently work unlicensed, with corresponding detrimental affects on the average citizen. However, due to typically poor drafting from the Home Office, people such as sysadmins will be caught up in the Bill.

The noise over the poor wording has grown louder by the day, with the CBI telling the FT yesterday that it will also make the IT sector's case.

One school of thought holds that the government was initially unaware of the effect its poor drafting had had. When the IT industry then pointed it out, it has stalled and chewed over the matter in order to get back at the IT lobbyists who have given the government a bloody nose three times in the last six months. Now, people are growing paranoid that the government has taken a fancy to the idea of licensing IT folk.

The entire argument can be resolved with the inclusion of a single word in the Bill. The Bill talks about security - hence including network security. But were it to slip "physical" in front of the phrase, it will encircle bouncers etc while leaving those concerned with electronic security out of the loop.

It is such a simple addition that there is no reason why the government can't add it in - especially since a licence system regarding IT folk anyway would be completely impractical - but we suspect the Home Office enjoys getting the industry to sweat a little. ®

Update

Nigel Hickson, head of e-business at the CBI, has called. The CBI has given a briefing to the Tory MPs in the committee that is reviewing the legislation, and sent a copy of this briefing to the Home Office. Mr Hickson told us he had spoken to several Home Office officials but not to the Bill team itself.

The government is currently in an "incoherent position" he told us. "No single person has been able to tell me why IT professionals should be included in this Bill. As drafted, it was never intended to include them." Logic will hopefully dictate that the called-for changes will be implemented.

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