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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'

Being literally woken up this morning to hear the radio saying 'music industry' and 'letters' and 'agreement' didn't feel like a good start to the day. The British music industry has co-erced a number of ISPs - current information suggests 6 of them - into the first stages of a 3 strikes programme. Details are still emerging, but it seems that the ISPs have agreed to send out a certain number of letters per week - perhaps a thousand per ISP per week - which could be hundreds of thousands a year. It isn't clear whether these are emails or letters through the post. But irrespective of how they are sent, it is clear that this is a mass-scale move by the BPI to punish file-sharers. And it is being done as a move to get around current European law, which prevents the government from legislating.

The ISPs who agreed to this deal should be ashamed of caving in to such a proposal which represents an infringement of civil liberties, and is part of a wider European agenda by the music and film industries to get them to police the Internet, monitoring users and blocking access to content, to support copyright.

The deal was brokered by Baroness Shriti Vadera, the former banker who is...

Read more: British ISPs cave in to music industry on strike 1 of 3 strikes

'Broadband settlement' being negotiated behind closed doors

Talks between the British music industry and the ISPs to resolve the P2P / free downloads logjam have been going on secretly for the past 2-3 weeks, it emerged today. It is not clear exactly what kind of deal is anticipated, but it is believed that some kind of levy on ISP subscriptions is on the table, under the banner of a 'broadband settlement'. And there are indications that the British music industry is not going to push for French-style enforcement involving cutting off people's internet access. If that is the case - which remains to be seen, these talks could be positive.

The existence of the talks became evident at the Music Publishers Association AGM in London today, where management of the composers and authors collecting societies and music publishers gathered to review the financial performance of this sector of the industry for 2007. They appear to have begun about 2-3 weeks ago, and were presented as a change of heart by the ISP industry, that it is now willing to talk. A timeframe of the next 3-4 weeks to reach a conclusion has been suggested, but not confirmed.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of British Music Rights, confirmed that the talks are happening, but refused

Read more: British music industry in secret talks with ISPs

The UK government has told the Internet industry to come to an agreement with media companies over how to deal with filesharing. This has prompted some debate in the technology media, as to the rights and wrongs of ISPs being told to police their networks (but sadly little debate outside the technology pages).

Read The Guardian's account here.

Read The Register's incisive and different viewpoint here.

And Silicon.com's view is here.

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. 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