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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'

When I heard yesterday that Richard Hooper had been appointed to run a feasibility study for the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange, I was optimistic that finally someone in authority would bite this poisoned bullet and wreak change on the stifled copyright industries. Regrettably, on examining the Feasibility Study document, I see little basis for maintaining that optimism. There is an urgent need for a shake-up of copyight licencing in the EU, but sadly this study is unlikely to carry the weight necessary to get it past the mighty copyright industries.

Read more: UK feasibility study to put digital copyright through the hoops

In an astonishingly frank admission, a key civil servant who worked on the Digital Economy Act (DE Act) has revealed that the UK government did not gather any evidence to support the copyright enforcement policies. They just relied on statistics supplied by the rights-holders. Worse still, civil servants were not able to assess how those statistics were compiled - because the rights-holders weren't willing to let them. Finally, in a damming indictment of the civil service processing of the DE Act, he let slip that they were just trying to make "the best brick they could, with what straw they could find".

Read more: We had no evidence for DEAct, UK gov't confesses

The British government's assessment of DE Act implementation costs to justify the SI Costs Order presents a positive cost-benefit. But is the government painting too rosy a picture?

The government presented a one-off cost of £11.5 million, and "average annual costs" of between 6-20 million, against a benefit, calculated using Net Present Value techniques, of between £84m - £164m. But the government figures did not include the running costs for Ofcom. More significantly, they fail to include the costs of the Appeals Process. When those costs are factored in, the picture changes quite significantly. Using the

Read more: The 84 million-a-year bill for DE Act

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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