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’

The House of Lords  tamely toes the Mandelson line on the UK's  new 3-strikes copyight rules and other wide-reaching proposals related to copyright and the Internet.  In a 'debate' on the Digital Economy Bill, the opposition members of the Lords did not oppose the government's proposals, with one or two laudable exceptions. 

 

In listening to the House of Lords debate yesterday, one could easily be forgiven for thinking it was a  creative industries protectionist bill, and not the Digital Economy Bill.

Beginning with the sponsoring Minister, Lord Peter Mandelson, the debate focussed on how to protect Britain's creative industries. Their Lordships from all parties  lamely trotted out tired figures on alleged losses due to file-sharing, figures that  would have been  handed to them by the music industry lobbyists,  IFPI.

 

They all considered that they  have to protect the anachronistic broadcasting companies, and that file-sharing is theft.  Lords from all all political parties  approved of

Read more: Luddite House of Lords supports 3-strikes

The most draconian law on copyright since the time of Henry VIII. Mandates infrastructure for wide-scale censorship. Removes Parliamentary scrutiny.  

In other words, it is more than  3-strikes.

 

The Digital Economy Bill, which gets its second reading in the House of Lords today,  is the most draconian law to regulate access to information and cultural works  since the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century. It threatens to re-introduce a regime of censorship not seen since the time when England was ruled by Kings and Queens. The only difference is that then it was religious censorship, now it is commercial.

 

ISP sources say it gives the UK government

Read more: Digital Economy Bill: Internet risk in 'Henry VIII clause'

Her Majesty the Queen is to announce 3-strikes measures against filesharers on Thursday. It raises some awkward questions. Just how should one fill one's iPod? And what happens if one of the Corgis downloads a song,  will the Royal Broadband be throttled? Which ISP will dare cut off ‘by Royal Appointment'?

 

The Queen is set to announce the British  government's proposals for  technical 3-strikes mea\sures, which will include suspension of Internet access,  when she opens the Westminster Parliament on Thursday this week.

 

It is widely anticipated that her speech (written by the British government and which outlines the legislative agenda for the year)  will contain  the

Read more: The Queen to announce Internet cut-off law

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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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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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