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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'

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

The new UK coalition government between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has set out its policy priorities on civil liberties.  Included within the agreement between the two coalition partners, drawn up last week-end, are two important pledges which will affect the rights and freedoms of Internet users.

 

THe UK coalition government agreement has specific implications for the Digital Economy Act which could mean that  implementation of the DE  Act is contrary to their  stated policy.

 

These pledges are  to  end the storage of internet and email records without good reason  and to protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.

 

The first pledge regarding storage of Internet and email records refers to the EU Data Retention Directive and its UK implementation. It's worth reminding ourselves that the

Read more: Internet liberties: are they safe under new UK coalition?

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. 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