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Digital Britain

Britain was traditionally influential in European policy for telecoms policy. It was a British Commissioner, Lord Cockfield, who established the Single European Market. Britain led the way in the establishment of a competitive European telecoms market. However, in leaving the EU, Britain has lost the ability to influence European policy in the future, and in 2022, Britain sadly finds itself no longer a major power, but instead has become an embarrassment for British representatives in international fora. The government is sunk deep in corruption, it blatantly lies, its law-breaking has led to mistrust among former allies. There are multiple posts, articles, and tweets to support this claim.

It's in this context that the British government is preparing a law to address regulation of the Internet. It's a law that will have far-reaching implications for the way the Internet will function in Britain, and will impact on web platforms overseas. I am referring of course, to the Online Safety Bill. As I write this, at the beginning of 2022, the Bill is only in draft form. How will it end up? Interestingly, in going through my old posts, I note that wrote in 2015 about a similarly -named Bill. It was the predecessor to this one. It never became law, but many of the provisions in it appear to have been taken forward into the 2022 version.

A number of the articles in this section discuss a previous policy, called the Digital Economy Act 2010. This was a law that mandated broadband providers to work with the music and film industries, in order to enforce copyright on the Internet. It was forced through in the dying hours of the Parliament before the General Election of May 2010. The measures involved the use of network technology to sanction users, with implications for the neutrality of the network, and the 'mere conduit' status of the network provider. The law was deemed unworkable and never implemented. That is a lesson that needs to be taken on board by all policy-makers in this field.

If you like the articles in this section, you may like my book The Closing of the Net.

If you are interested in the Digital Economy Act and copyright enforcement policy, you may like my previous books A Copyright Masquerade: How Corporate Lobbying Threatens Online Freedoms and The Copyright Enforcement Enigma - Internet Politics and the 'Telecoms Package'

Could an amendment tabled by Lord Mandelson pave the way for filtering  the Internet in the UK?

 

The  Digital Economy Bill, which seeks to introduce copyright enforcement measures against peer-to-peer downloading   is currently being debated in the House of Lords. An amendment passed last weekappears to widen the application of the government's proposed " technical measures", and legal experts are debating whether it could open the door for 'filtering'.  It is a simple linguistic change, but the meaning is unclear.

Amendment 155A  replaces the words 'particular' subscribers' with the words ‘all relevant

Read more: Digital Economy Bill: is this filtering by the back door?

UK Digital Economy Bill: The infamous Henry VIII clause  which will permit the Secretary of State to re-write UK copyright law without oversight from Parliament, will also permit the copyright industries to keep their trade secrets, under a proposed new amendment from Lord Mandelson.

*Next debate is this Tuesday, 26 January. Lords Razzall, Whitty, Clement-Jones and Lucas have announced their intention to oppose the Clause. *

An amendment tabled to the Digital Economy Bill calls for the details of representations made to the Secretary of State  in consultations amending copyright law to be kept confidential. The aim of the amendment is  to protect the commercial interests of the copyright industries. (See full text below).

 

The amendment is one of several which Lord  Mandelson has

Read more: Mandelson in new move to protect music industry secrets

A code which will act as the model for Ofcom, the UK regulator, to supervise the new copyright enforcement measures against peer-to-peer downloading, has been drafted by the UK government.

 

The Digital Economy Bill provides for the regulator, Ofcom, to supervise the new copyright enforcement measures targeting  Internet users. The measures, which occupy over one third of the Bill, initially target peer-to-peer users, but in fact, the scope of the Bill looks set to go much wider. (I am still in the process of analysing it, but this is my current view.)

Ofcom will be asked to draw up a code of practice by which the rights-holders and the Internet service providers are to operate the new measures. Effectively, Ofcom will be supervising the policing of the Internet in the UK. The document which has recently been released provides a model outline for this code, and

Read more: UK Digital Economy Bill: Internet policing code released

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor, with expertise in online safety, technology and human rights. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.  

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review