Conservative MP for Stevenage (since 2010). Chairman of EURIM Knowledge and Economy Working Group, and Member of the Science & Technology Committee. Vice-Chairman of the Space Committee. Member of PICTFOR.
“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made on the Government's commitment in section 3 of the Coalition Agreement to end the storage of internet and email records without good reason.” 
Stephen McPartland is concerned about safety on the internet in terms of child’s safety and cyber attacks. 
“The forum has done great work in establishing transparency and an acceptance that the internet is too important, and evolves too quickly, to be left to the traditional models of regulation and to international treaties. ... Underpinning the work of every group and every one of the 125 nations involved in the forum’s sixth meeting in Kenya was the desire to build safety into internet access, whether to protect vulnerable children from exploitation or nation states from cyber-attack. The challenges we face on the internet are so wide-ranging that they encompass everything from cyber-bullying—the UK Council for Child Internet Safety does excellent work on that—right the way up to the possibility of cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure by terrorists or rogue nation states.
Today, I want to focus on the mobile internet, which has probably been the fastest growing technology in history and has changed how we as a society interact with the internet. First, however, I want briefly to say something about the riots, because there was some talk about them earlier. Everybody has talked about social platforms and social networks, but they are not what causes the fear. As the right hon. Gentleman mentioned, Manchester police were probably grateful for the tweets telling them where the next riotous behaviour would take place. What people are concerned about, however, is BlackBerry Messenger and the fact that the information on it is encrypted. That is the type of area where we need to think about regulation. How do we regulate an organisation whose information is encrypted on servers that are not based in this country? That is the issue we need to tackle, and I would be interested to hear any comments the Minister has.
The new smart phones have led the way in enabling customers to access new digital applications and services. More than 50% of all teenagers now have smart phones and use them to surf the internet, send e-mails and use social networking sites. I am slightly older than a teenager—in fact, I am almost twice as old—but I pop my laptop on only once a week, and I use my smart phone to do my internet banking, to deal with my e-mails and to do everything else. A huge number of teenagers no longer have laptops; instead, they have smart phones, iPads, tablets and other such devices. We are therefore moving away from needing to regulate what we might think of as the wired internet and towards needing to regulate the mobile internet, and there was some discussion at the IGF about whether we needed different regulations for the wired internet and the mobile internet.
High-performance mobile capability has the potential to allow services and speeds significantly to increase, compared with what we know today. For example, there has been huge debate about providing access to broadband coverage in rural areas, and mobile internet gives us the opportunity to do that.
Other benefits of the increasing use of mobile broadband applications include increasing access to, and lowering the cost of, health care by using solutions that remotely monitor patients and provide real-time data to clinicians. Online health e-systems, which all the mobile phone operators are developing, touch on an issue raised by the right hon. Gentleman: which Department is responsible for regulating such things? Is it the Department of Health or the Home Office? Furthermore, how do we regulate something that pervades and touches every aspect of our lives?
Mobile-enabled machine-to-machine technologies are supporting the roll-out of smart energy grids via smart meters in premises. Analysts suggest that this segment of the UK economy will grow by 30% per annum over the next five years. Is it the responsibility of the Department of Energy and Climate Change or another Department to regulate such things?
Another benefit of the increasing use of mobile broadband is the ability to mobilise and empower citizens through e-government, e-learning and e-volunteering. Getting involved in that way encapsulates what is meant by the big society.
Mobile broadband is crucial in supporting universal access to broadband across the UK and to delivering digital inclusion. It will be the technology of choice for many because of its convenience and the wide geographical access it allows. It will deliver broadband access to many rural areas that have never had mobile or fixed broadband.
However, Ofcom must structure next year’s auction of 4G mobile broadband spectrum so that it rebalances competition in holdings of spectrum ownership and supports competition in coverage. Spectrum policy is vital to maintaining competition in the delivery of mobile broadband coverage. At issue is the allocation of wireless spectrum, the lifeblood of mobile and wireless networks.
The potential for a severe spectrum crunch looms over the next decade, and even international regulators have started to point out that substantial amounts of new spectrum will be needed to drive the continued growth of the mobile wireless industry. Will the Minister consider reviewing the process for allocating spectrum so that we can give it to those who can use it to generate economic growth?” 
Stephen was the Director of Membership for British American Business (the US Chamber of Commerce), based in London.
History from University of Liverpool. MSc in Technology Management from Liverpool John Moores University.
Stephen is an avid reader, a volunteer speaker for Asthma UK and a football fan, often watching Stevenage play.
Stephen McPartland MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
Stevenage Constituency Office, Unit 18, Gunnels Wood Park, Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, SG1 2BH
020 7219 7156 (Westminster) and 01438 728139 (Constituency)
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