The leader of Brighton and Hove City Council has criticised a threat to the area’s flourishing digital sector by the government.
Councillor Jason Kitcat, the Green leader of the council and an IT expert, said that measures intended to improve security could make it impossible for online companies to do business.
There was a danger, he said, that the loss of online privacy could crush Brighton and Hove’s £700 million tech economy.
He said: “Trust is key to the services and technology that so many of us use.
“We wouldn’t use online shopping if we knew our bank details weren’t being kept safe. Nor would we send personal emails or texts if we knew that hackers could easily access them.
“Unfortunately last week David Cameron announced that he effectively plans to end our privacy.
“Companies with access to our sensitive data usually encrypt our information to protect it from prying eyes. This includes smartphone apps, banking, messaging and some email providers.
“Sometimes this is so secure that even the companies themselves cannot access the information we send.
“However, David Cameron has announced that he plans to make it illegal for companies to keep our information private from the government.
“This is a huge invasion of privacy, plus there’s no guarantee that spying on UK citizens will improve our national security.
“More importantly, leaving the back door open for the government also leaves it open for more unsavoury characters.
“Weakened security around these services gifts hackers and fraudsters the golden opportunity to steal personal information, and more, from us.
“Businesses and technology experts are warning that it could spell the end of online shopping, privacy and security.
“Some businesses are already making plans to leave the UK if David Cameron pushes ahead.
“This is of huge importance to Brighton and Hove because of our burgeoning digital sector.
“If David Cameron makes it impossible for ordinary companies to do business online, or digital companies to develop new technology that customers can trust, it will crush our local tech economy.
“The digital sector alone is worth £713 million per year to the city.
“We are a world leader in the field, and we want it to stay that way. Cameron needs to back off and respect our privacy.”