Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

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’

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

Members of the British Parliament have called for Google to be regulated as a dominant player in the Internet industry. The call follows a complaint by a British-based price comparisons company to the European Commission.


In debate misleadingly entitled  as ‘Government Policy on Net Neutrality',  British MPs debated whether Google should be regulated in the context of its dominance as a search engine.  But taking a different turn from the usual platitudes of big content companies who complain about Google, in this instance, their concern was for the health of small businesses online, especially those which start up new  services and try to compete againstl  the big search engines.

 The debate was prompted by the complaint by a British company, Foundem, to the European Commission DG Competition.  Foundem operates a price-comparison service for online shopping. According to the MP Dominc Raab, Conservative Member for Esher and Walton,  Foundem has alleged that Google downgraded its search results, and acted anti-competitively  in a way which was financially negative for Foundem.  

 Mr Raab said that  the effect was to suppress Foundem  in Google search results. Mr Raab pointed out that the alleged treatment of Foundem would be sufficient to bury and kill off many businesses.  He accused Google of deliberately

Read more: Calls for controls on Google in UK Parliament

Digital Economy Act, Judicial Review, Day 3  - Friday 25 March


The High Court in London was told last week that  a chilling effect is "a price properly to be paid for the greater aim of protecting copyright owners interests" as the British government's barrister defended the Digital Economy Act against  claims by BT and Talk Talk that the Act is  unenforceable and disproportionate.

 A key tenet of the government's defence  was the rights of copyright owners represent a legitmate aim for legislation and come before other rights, such as those of ISPs or Internet users.

It was the third day of  a hearing which forms part of a Judicial Review of the DE Act. On Days 1 and 2,  BT and Talk Talk had  set out their grounds supporting their claim, including that the government failed to notify the DEAct to the European Commission prior to putting it before Parliament, that it breaches the E-commerce directive and the E-privacy directive, and  that it has implications for freedom of expression, including an anticipated ‘chilling effect' ( see previous articles on iptegrity).

The government's barrister took less

Read more: Chilling effect is a 'price worth paying' says government barrister


Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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States v the 'Net? 

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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review


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