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Entrepreneurs Panel

Michael Oliver
Debbie Pierce
Steve Purdham
Brian Hay
Charlie Mullins
Laura Tenison
Jennie Johnson
Jeremy Roberts
Julie Meyer
Tony Caldeira
David Pollock
Richard O'Sullivan

Price of terror

Controversial new EU anti-terror laws could lead to huge increases in telecoms costs for the region’s SMEs, it is warned.

The new Data Protection Directive, which was introduced in the wake of suspected Al-Qaeda bombings in Madrid and London, will place a huge additional burden on telecoms providers, according to law firm Mace & Jones.

It points out that, under the new law, communications firms will have to standardise the amount of details about a client’s phone calls, emails, faxes, text messages and other electronic forms of communication they store, along with the type of data and duration of storage.

This means telecoms firms will have to store an enormous amount of extra data, with the costs inevitably being passed onto customers. “The massive cost of doing this is likely to be seen in rising bills for small businesses,” argues Mace & Jones’s head of corporate, Ian Hodgkinson.

“One internet service provider based in the UK is reportedly spending £26 million in set-up costs and a further £9 million-a-year just to run a data retention system to comply with the rules. This is the reality of implementing this costly and onerous new legislation.”

While the data held by communications companies won’t include the content of the calls or emails themselves, it will ensure that law enforcement agencies can identify the sender and recipient and, for mobile calls, the location of the caller.

“While small businesses would not want to jeopardise the nation’s security, it has to be doubtful if these rules will deter or catch the clever and dangerous terrorists the regulations were designed to stop,” says Hodgkinson.

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Five Minutes With

David Hughes sums up his entrepreneurial career to date thus: four spectacular successes and two failures. He founded the sports retailer Allsports and achieved turnover of £180 million before a vicious price war meant decline, administration in 2005 and a sell-off to rival JD Sports.

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