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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'

As we say RIP to the laboratories which invented fibre optic cable, what should be the government response?


The UK government's stated policy is that the communications infrastructure should support future economic growth. So should it let a once-proud UK telecoms company be broken up into mere products? Nortel - whose laboratories developed the fibre optic cable on which 21st century communications depend - is being sold off. Its staff, who possess the skills essential for the Digital Economy, accuse the administrators of breach of contract, and government support is seriously lacking.

Read more: RIP Nortel: should government step in?

A double taxation, plus the likelihood of  restricted Internet access under proposed copyright measures,  will  begin to make UK broadband services  less attractive. And is it just a subsidy to  BT and NTL/Virgin? 

 

A tax on broadband will be included in the  Finance Bill, to be announced in the Chancellor's pre-Budget report tomorrow. The tax of 50p per month per phone line is designed to make a contribution towards the installation of fibre lines to UK homes.

For residential broadband subscribers with one fixed phone line, it will be an additional $6 per month on top of their usual payment. But for those who

Read more: Triple whammy broadband tax in UK Finance Bill

The House of Lords  tamely toes the Mandelson line on the UK's  new 3-strikes copyight rules and other wide-reaching proposals related to copyright and the Internet.  In a 'debate' on the Digital Economy Bill, the opposition members of the Lords did not oppose the government's proposals, with one or two laudable exceptions. 

 

In listening to the House of Lords debate yesterday, one could easily be forgiven for thinking it was a  creative industries protectionist bill, and not the Digital Economy Bill.

Beginning with the sponsoring Minister, Lord Peter Mandelson, the debate focussed on how to protect Britain's creative industries. Their Lordships from all parties  lamely trotted out tired figures on alleged losses due to file-sharing, figures that  would have been  handed to them by the music industry lobbyists,  IFPI.

 

They all considered that they  have to protect the anachronistic broadcasting companies, and that file-sharing is theft.  Lords from all all political parties  approved of

Read more: Luddite House of Lords supports 3-strikes

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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