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

4th post in a series on the government's response to  Hargreaves

The implementation plan for the Digital Economy Act stalled with the Judicial Review last March, and has been kept close to chests of the DCMS officials responsible for it. However, a few hints appeared in the government’s response to Hargreaves.  The plan is for the first  warnings (copyright infringement notifications) to be sent

to Internet users in  December 2012. That sounds like a long way away,  but in terms of Parliamentary processes, it means that the gant chart of deadlines has to be prepared now.  

  Before the notification system can go ahead, an Initial Obligations  Code, prepared by  Ofcom, has to be in place, with all the relevant approvals. The Code has been written and is somewhere in  the DCMS filing system, waiting for the signal to move ahead.  When the signal is sounded, its first stop will be the European Commision, which has to check it – together with the Digital Economy Act – for compliance with EU law. That process can take 2-3 months.

 Assuming it gets the all-clear from Brussels, the next stage for the Initial Obligations Code  is  to go before  Parliament (note the DE Act does not go to Parliament again, just the Code). Parliament  only has the power to reject it under the  Annulment process, which does not  allow for any debate.  Parliament’s approval is therefore a nominal rubber-stamp.

Once the Parliamentary stamp is obtained, the Initial Obligations Code – and the DE Act measures against peer-to-peer file-sharing which it implements -  is under starters orders.

 The government’s stated objective is to get the first notifications out by December 2012. Working backwards, it has go to the European Commission fairly soon. The earliest it  could be approved  is around Christmas. It will have to be slotted into a Parliamentary schedule early next year, to give the rights-holders and ISPs maximum time to slog out the fine print and get their shiny new automated systems in place.

 Of course, the European Commission might disagree with the BIS/DCMS interpretation of Article 1.3a – and that could cause a small delay.

 Please attribute this article: Monica Horten (2011) DE Act : ready steady go  12 September 2011 .

 The story of Article 1.3a is in my book: The Copyright Enforcement Enigma: Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'


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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States v the 'Net? 

Read The Closing of the Net, by me, Monica Horten.

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review


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