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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'

BT and TalkTalk v Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

 

Today rights holders and ISPs turned up at the high court in London for a court case which will determine the legality or otherwise of the Digital Economy Act. There is a sense too in which arguments put the whole concept of graduated response or 3-strikes in the dock and that for the first time we are hearing a reasoned case against 3-strikes.

 In a courtroom divided clearly between the two camps, the case against the DE Act was put by BT's barrister was the first day of a three-day hearing.

 The following account is my personal  view of what was said, having sat through the entire day. I've summarised what I consider to be some of the key points in BT's arguments.

 

Read more: Digital Economy Act Judicial Review Day 1

Can a court quash the Digital Economy Act ? This is the British law which brings in a version of 3-strikes and it comes to court this week in a unique case.

 

***The arguments set out in this article are based on the case set out in legal documentation from  BT and TalkTalk. I intend to go to the court tomorrow and will be posting further on this case.***

 

Tomorrow the British high court will hear the case against the government put by two ISPs, British Telecom and TalkTalk (Carphone Warehouse). There are asking the court to quash the DE Act.  It is possibly the first instance of its kind where a court has been asked to review a law which has been passed by Parliament.

 The Digital Economy Act includes provisions for copyright enforcement measures in respect of peer-to-peer file-sharing and Internet content, which mean that people may be warned, put on blacklists and ultimately have their connection suspended as a punishment.

If the two ISPs  win, the Digital Economy  Act becomes unenforceable and lapses.  BT and Talk Talk will argue that the government

Read more: DE Act in court tomorrow for a quashing order

The Hargreaves review of  intellectual property  law gave hope to those from the digital world that the UKgovernment was prepared to consider some new thinking over the tricky aspects of digital copyright.  But the review team have been subjected to heavy rights-holder lobbying. 

 

The deadline for submissions to the UK's Copyright Review ended last week on Friday. The aim of the inquiry was to investigate how intellectual property (IP)  law should be changed to support new and innovative, hi-tech businesses.  Now, as they plough through the submissions, many people will be hoping that Ian Hargreaves and his team  at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) are brave enough to come up with some truly innovative answers to the copyright dilemna.

 

The rights-holders have evidently not left it to chance. The IPO has put online a list of

Read more: Rights-holders heavy UK copyright inquiry

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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