Many leaders in the technology space consider it sacrosanct to read the technology pages of the broadsheet and tabloid papers every morning. After all, this is where innovation, ideas, and the latest developments are discussed – information that could prove relevant and valuable in your next product development session or sales pitch. However, whilst the technology pages are no doubt important, there’s another group of writers that deserve far more of your attention than you might think.
These are the politics and policy reporters. Few places on earth have such an open and respected political press corps like the one we have in the UK, and the corridors of power are often held to account by these journalists. We’re lucky to have laws protecting the freedom of press, and we’re equally lucky (or unlucky, depending on what they have to say!) to have politicians who agree to be interviewed.
Turn the page
But why should you, reading this, as a technologist, care about the political movements being written about in these pages? Well, the internet is borderless, and policing what happens on this cyber playing field often becomes a matter of state intervention (or state clean-up). Cyberbalkanisation (or the splinternet) is real, and it’s accelerating. It’s a symptom of nation states disagreeing on how data should be controlled (GDPR and the Data Protection Act) or how social media platforms should be regulated. Some nations prefer to censor, others are far more liberal in the information they openly share within and outside of the physical borders of a country. So, it stands to reason that the political pages could become far more important to technologists, if we’re willing to burst the bubble we’re currently in, and acknowledge how politics impacts technological implementation and innovation.
Brexit breeds a brush up on politics
Clearly, politics is having an increasing impact and influence on the technology and cybersecurity industries. With the uncertainty of Brexit exacerbating the technology skills gap in the UK, a knowledge of policy is essential to the tech leader of tomorrow, to ensure they can source the right talent for their team. Vice versa, political bods will also need a broader understanding of technological issues. Across the pond, we see America taking a leaf from this book; a recent USA Today article proclaimed to 2020 presidential candidates that the cybersecurity chief will be their most important administration hire. No pressure.
At SecureData, we have already seen some extremely talented engineers move away to Europe due to visa worries, resulting in a smaller pool of talent to pull from in the future. This is to say nothing of the inevitable loss in numbers of students coming to the UK for their higher education. Policy affects talent. Talent will also impact policy.
Here in the UK, security has elbowed its way up the political agenda. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), acting as the bridge between government, industry and the public, has brought security to the fore, and made it a key issue to be debated within column inches and also the corridors of Government. No longer can technology (and more notably security) work autonomously towards the simple goal of innovation – it needs to consider the citizen; it needs to be mindful of the ripple effects not just for our nation, but for other nations on the cyber battleground.
Increased interest in security
A company with a solid knowledge of policy stands to be far more successful than one without. As such, organisations in the infosecurity sector need to be well-versed on policy that will impact how they operate, and how they interact with customers. In the post-GDPR era – a piece of legislation that will arguably be one of the most important in our lifetime – security, privacy and data protection all intertwine. It’s no longer about ‘how can we innovate?’ but ‘how can we innovate safely?’ ‘How can we protect our customers? ‘How can we protect our bottom line?’ Whilst a solid understanding of the regulation is expected (though not always adhered to), being involved with ongoing policy conversations isn’t something that many companies actively get involved with. But this is the ideal scenario: a politically-conscious business willing to get involved in wider political discussions to not only equip business leaders with the right information, but also ensure their business remains relevant. The time for playing fast and loose for selfish gains is over.
As conversation around Brexit continues, and security regulation evolves, companies must have overarching knowledge of all aspects of the infosecurity industry and the policy that could affect it. So, with that in mind, next time you’re reading the papers, turn to the politics pages first – you may read something interesting that you hadn’t considered before in your line of work. At SecureData, we believe that cybersecurity isn’t just for businesses, but for society at large, and understanding policy is something we pride ourselves on.
At SecureData, we use our experiences and knowledge of technology, current affairs and policy to influence our services and consultancy. Let us know how we can help you protect your company, but also all those that could be affected should the worst happen.