Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

Conservative spokesman on Culture, Jeremy Hunt,  said today in the House of Commons that he thinks ISPs should not retain their mere conduit status. 

And he wants to open up BT's ducts to competition. 

His colleague Peter Luff said would said  the freedoms of Internet users should come after creativity.

Derek Wyatt called for licencing of ISPs - which would reverse the Tories policy established in the 1980s. 


Jeremy Hunt, Conservative spokesman on culture,  wants ISPs to take responsibility for copyrighted content, and to work with the rights-holders.   He said " I dont think it is satisfactory to say they are a 'mere conduit". 

In saying this, however, Jeremy Hunt,  displays ignorance of UK and EU law, and the E-commerce directive. The mere conduit provision is there for a reason, it is intended to provide an open infrastructure which promotes innovation and permits universal communications. Mere conduit

also de facto protects the fundamental rights to freedom of expression and privacy. Mere conduit is an essential measure for the Internet to function. It is quite astonishing that Mr Hunt would indicate that the Conservatives want to get rid of it, which was what was implied by his statement. 

Moreover, Mr Hunt wants to open up BT's ducts. This is a major policy choice, and it would normally be intended to promote competition. But, Mr Hunt, there is no point in having competition if all suppliers are asked to block, and to snoop on people's traffic. People do not want a choice of blockages, they want NO blockages. 

It is unbelievable that a British politician would say that it is ok to restrict people's freedoms for the sake of a political objective, because that is what the 'creativity' that he speaks of is,

Mr Luff's comments should be referred to the European Commission. They run contrary to European policy. In the Telecoms Package, it was decided that Internet freedoms are important and they are now on the EU policy agenda. 


What really amazes me, is that Jeremy Hunt will compete against Richard Mollett, the BPI's head of communications, in his southWest Surrey constituency. He should be opposing his opponent, not giving him a present on a plate - the Digital Economy Bill was written by Mollett and his colleagues, and they will be the key beneficiaries. 

The Conservatives obviously cannot be trusted on Internet issues.  


 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Conservatives want to get rid of mere conduit 6 April  2010 


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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