BT boss Gavin Patterson: 'Customers can't expect total privacy'

 

Davos has kicked off with a controversial warning from BT chief executive Gavin Patterson that telecoms customers cannot expect total privacy.

"People recognise that they have to give up some of their privacy to be protected," he said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

But Patterson added that the rules on what information national security agencies can access from private firms such as BT needs to be overhauled.

"The legislation has to catch up," he said. "It’s just too murky at the moment. There needs to be clear regulations over what’s acceptable and what isn’t. It’s not fit for purpose today. We’ve got to make sure it protects the rights of the individual, that it’s not intrusive."

However, he added there would always be some intrusion from the state because of the need to protect the public from the threat of terrorism. "I don’t think it will ever be zero,” he said.

On the same panel, Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer said the reputation of internet firms such as hers was damaged by last year’s revelations of mass data collection and blanket surveillance by the US National Security Agency.

"We need to be able to rebuild trust with our users” she said. "There are concerns with what the NSA is looking at and what it’s being used for.”

She called for internet firms to be allowed to reveal what requests for information they had received from security agencies.

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