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’

BT and TalkTalk v Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

BT - "You cannot justify national measures on the optimistic hope that they might just work.".

 

 **This report is my own view, having spent the day in court.**

 

On day 2 of the court case at the High Court in London which will determine the legality of the Digital Economy Act, BT tackled the arguments against the DE Act regarding the   dis-proportionality  of the copyright enforcement measures.

 

BT argued that the measures address only a fraction of the problem which they claim to solve, are based on a flawed calculation of their effectiveness, based on a false set of assumptions. In particular, BT  sought to ‘put a cricket ball through the stump  of the government's cost /benefit analysis'.  Moreover, BT suggested that the government misconstrued  one of its main justifications for the Bill.

 

BT claims that the government gave out  a misconceived

Read more: Day 2 DE Act Judicial Review: was the Act built on hope alone?

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

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Iptegrity in brief

 

Iptegrity.com 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

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States v the 'Net? 

Read The Closing of the Net, by me, Monica Horten.

"original and valuable"  Times higher Education

" essential read for anyone interested in understanding the forces at play behind the web." ITSecurity.co.uk

Find out more about the book here  The Closing of 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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