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’

In what looks to be an attempt to bury the bad news, Ofcom, the UK regulator has today released its draft 'Code' for the first part of the UK's 3-strikes/graduated response measures under the mis-named Digital Economy Act. Contrary to Ofcom's PR spin, the Code will hit small  ISPs in the medium-to-long term and will make it impossible to operate public wi-fi without censoring what users can access.

The Ofcom 3-strikes Code  precedes the 'technical measures'  to cut off or throttle Internet users,  which are intended under the Act to follow in 12 months.


 The  Ofcom Initial Obligations Code under the Digital Economy Act, vindicates  some of the predictions that have been floated in the past two-three weeks (see previous articles on It is a 3-strikes measure, where Internet users accused of copyright infringement by rights-holders will receive three warnings, with the threat that if they 'persist' they will be put on a blacklist and their name and contact details may be passed to the rights-holders for court action.

Whilst Ofcom is trying to soften the blow by saying that small ISPs will be excluded, this is  a distortion of the truth. 

The Code establishes that the 7 largest ISPs will be expected to comply with the Code at first, but that Ofcom will monitor file-sharing traffic and will require other ISPs to comply over time. The important clauses are 3.17 and

Read more: UK 3-strikes Code released: ISPs hit hard

Ofcom proposes to leave it to industry to decide how the Digital Economy Act will operate. It will leave gaps in the Initial Obligations Code for industry to fill. Given that Ofcom has a mammoth £142 million budget, should we excuse this lack of attention to the public interest?


Behind closed doors, Ofcom is driving forward  the previous Labour government's proposals for a 3-strikes copyright enforcement regime which risks blocking websites and restricting the access of UK citizens to the Internet. But information emerging from the process suggests that Ofcom is trying to fudge the process in order to push it through in the timescale agreed with the entertainment industries.


Ofcom is drawing up the Initial Obligations Code which will implement the first phase of the 3-strikes/graduated response measures for copyright

Read more: Ofcom cooks up a 3-strikes fudge - industry to do it themselves

The Liberal Democrat party has instructed its leadership and its new government Ministers to repeal the coyright enforcement measures in the  Digital Economy Act.

The instruction took the form of an amendment to the main  motion at the Liberal Democrat special conference in Birmingham over the week-end. The purpose of the motion, entitled Building a Fairer Britain,   was to confirm the membership support for the coalition agreement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, and also to clarify actions, positions and legislation which the membership would approve. The amendment concerning the DE Act reads:

Read more: Repeal the DE Act: Liberal Democrats instruct Clegg


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? 

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

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

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FROM £15.99

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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