Britain is influential in European policy for telecoms and online content. It is not as loud as France, but in a quieter way, lets its views be known. British policy is often the point from which the EU takes its lead in this field. Within the European Commission, the British influence on telecoms policy is evident in the ongoing initiatives to establish and maintain a deregulated market.
The dominant policy which I discuss is the Digital Economy Act which was forced through in the dying hours of the last Parliament under the old discredited Labour regime.
More than one third of the content of the Digital Economy Act deals with copyright enforcement, and includes provisionsl to address peer-to-peer filesharing by means of 3-strikes measures. Within it are proposed measures to to either suspend or terminate the user’s access or to slow their bandwidth to make it impossible to do file-sharing or any other advanced applications. These measures involve the use of network technology against the users, they will have implications for the neutrality of the network, and the neutral ‘mere conduit’ status of the network provider. They potentially will entail the implementation of deep packet inspection – the same equipment as used in China. The broadband provider will be liable to do this, at risk of a quarter of a million pound penalty.
However, since the coalition government has been in power, other issues have arising, and in particular, the government is holding talks with industry about various forms of Internet blocking. I will reports on these events too.