Looking for help with the Online Safety Act  - Ofcom consultation & guidelines? Please get in touch. 

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'

Professor Hargreaves comments are enlightening and refreshing. The EU should take note, in light of the impending publication of the IPRED review:

Make policy based on evidence not lobbying. Creative industries need to change their business model. Anti-piracy lobby groups are 'alarmist'. Scarcity of reliable data to back up enforcement measures. Digital Economy Act should be carefully monitored.

The UK review of copyright law, led by Professor Ian Hargreaves, has concluded that the copyright framework is outdated and obstructive for innovation in the digital age. He calls for copyright policy to be made on weight of evidence, not weight of lobbying, and accused the creative industries of being alarmist about 'piracy'.

On enforcement, he warns that governments must do more to ensure that the creative industries make available legal content, saying that stronger enforcement measures such as the Digital Economy Act cannot work unless more effort is put into the business model. He is pointedly critical of the available research which claims to point to the scale of piracy, saying that it is unreliable. And he is scathing of the whinging

Read more: UK copyright review: focus on reform not enforcement

Does Ed Richards believe  this cleft stick policy can be effective in the  digital age?*

 

 Ed Richards,  chief executive of the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, has  told Parliament that he does not expect the first letters to be sent out under the Digital Economy Act for at least a year. Speaking to the Culture, Media and Sport committee earlier this month, he said that there were ‘internal clearance processes' to be gone through, as well as the European Commission all of which could take ‘some months'. On top of that, Ofcom has to set up the new appeals body mandated by the act - if the EU approves it.

 

Based on an uncorrected transcript of the committee proceedings ( see link below), Ed  Richards  was put under pressure by ‘content creator' of  romantic novels,  and former EMI press officer,  ( not entirely a disinterested party) Conservative MP Louise Bagshawe.  She wanted to know  why he couldn't move more  quickly to get the warning notices out to alleged P2P infringers.

 

Mr  Richards  explained that the Initial

Read more: Ofcom chief: DE Act kick-off delayed by a year

A judgement in  the UK High Court yesterday squashed the legal challenge to the Digital Economy Act by BT and TalkTalk. It  rejected  a series of legal claims concerning notification to the European Union, incompatibility with European Internet and privacy law, and dis-proportionality,  allowing only one very minor claim regarding costs.

 

It is  astonishing that the judge has come up with a judgement on this  complex matter in such a very short time. He has taken  less than a month. Compare it for example, the ECJ, where the Advocate General  took 3 months before he delivered an opinion on the Sabam v Scarlet case, another major European case on copyright enforcement.

 The judge, Mr Justice Parker,  is somewhat dismissive of BT and TalkTalk's arguments, and critical of them for delivering a substantial economic analysis ( the content of which is not public, but the judgement complains of  the volume of it).

 He instead comes down firmly on the side of the government -  which de facto,  is also the rights-holders.  It was notable that the government and the rights-holders sat together  - and laughed together - in the court-room.

 Overall, the judgement does not

Read more: DE Act court ruling - a twisted balance

dr.monica.hortenav-obs.dec.2016.jpg

Find me on LinkedIn

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