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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'

AT&T, which lobbied so hard in Brussels to get ‘restrictions' into the Telecoms Package, is now lobbying to keep itself out of the UK's 3-strikes regime. Has AT&T had a change of heart? No.

Such a proposition could give AT& T and Verizon a significant market advantage over   competitors. At the same time, it would put small businesses of all kinds at a serious disadvantage.  The real question is just how much market distortion would it create?

 The American telecoms provider AT&T, and its lobbying partner Verizon, are asking the UK regulator for exclusion from the UK's 3-strikes copyright enforcement regime, which will be implemented under the Digital Economy Act.  In particular, they want an exclusion for "business

Read more: DE Act: AT&T wants to wriggle out of copyright liability

Legal uncertainty for citizens and ISPs can be expected from the Ofcom's Code to implement the Digital Economy Act, which will bring in 3-strikes (now confirmed as 3)  measures to the UK.

 

The Ofcom Consultation on the Initial Obligations Code, which implements the Digital Economy Act, ended yesterday. According to sources in consumer groups, citizens organisations  and ISPs, the code  fails to support either users or ISPs, even under the weak provisions which are in the Act. In many instances, the UK regulator is accused of putting users and businesses in a legally uncertain position.

 

The Ofcom Initial Obligations Code, as it is called, is criticised because it:

Read more: DE Act: users and ISPs hit by Ofcom Code

The Digital Economy Act, and the issues raised by it,  will  be addressed by  a new Committee of the UK Parliament. At its first meeting yesterday, it was  rights-holders v citizens. But where were the telcos?

 

The first meeting of the  All Party Parliamentary Group on the Digital Economy (APPG - Digital Economy) was held yesterday in the ancient and  hallowed halls of the Palace of Westminster. As befits this primordial  fight waged by the  rights-holders,  the poised and practiced  music industry lobbyists squared up to the largely volunteer citizens' representatives  across the room.

The rights-holders were for once not the dominant group, finding their presence matched by an equally strong citizen presence consisting of

Read more: DE Act: could the UK Parliament revisit it?

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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