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Policy matters

Policy does matter. We may think that the Internet is a free digital environment, where no laws apply but there are many cases which contradict this notion.

In this section of Iptegrity.com, I  report on EU policy related to the Internet and online content, in particular, where policy intiatives affect   access to film, music and television, and I highlight issues for the  policy debate in relation to the Internet.  For 2008-2009, copyright enforcement has been the hot topic, with net neutrality emerging as well, in 2009.   My focus is on the European Union and  its member states - for example,  I am currently covering Internet  policy - specifically copyright enforcement intiatives - in France and the UK.

I am most interested in the citizen's perspective. However, the issues I cover will affect the Internet and telecoms industries, as well as the media and entertainment industries.  

Iptegrity.com offers  original reporting from the EU, as well as comment and opinion on issues raised in other media, including non-English language media in Europe. Iptegrity.com is the main English-language news source for the Telecoms Package review of EU telecoms law.

The Online Safety Bill has had a difficult relationship with freedom of expression as its main premise to to remove content. For that reason it was a pleasant surprise to see the House of Lords amend the Bill with explicit support for free speech as a right under the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). 

Until now, this support has been missing from the Bill.  This is therefore a positive outcome from the House of Lords which will  redress the balance between content removal and free speech. 

Read more: Online Safety Bill: ray of hope for free speech

Tweet from UK  Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on agreement with social media platforms on small boats content

TL;DR: The government is to establish an £11 million Online Capability Centre to seek and identify small boats content from people smugglers. The centre will be run by the National Crime Agency in co-operation with social media platforms.

In order to protect freedom of expression, the government must precisely identify the specific content to be removed. The examples published by the government on Twitter / X give some clues. It is not a technological silver bullet to solve the question of people arriving on UK shores in small boats.

And it is concerning for British democracy to have law enforcement working so closely alongside the companies who run our public conversational spaces, with the power to restrain publication, and no independent oversight.


Read more: National Crime Agency to run new small boats social media centre

TL;DR They say they do, but the Bill is not clear. The government has been quite shifty in its use of language to obscure a requirement for encrypted messaging services to monitor users' communications. If they do comply with this requirement, they will have to break the encryption that protects users' privacy, and users risk being less safe online. However, they will also be conflicted in their legal duties to protect users' privacy, as will the regulator Ofcom. Private messaging services are important to millions of UK users. Their obligation under the Online Safety Bill needs clarification and amendment.

***UPDATE 24 May 2022 Quietly behind the scenes, there is confirmation that this is exactly what the government wants to do.***

Read more: Online Safety Bill: does government want to snoop on your WhatsApps?

Iptegrity moves on!

May 2024: Iptegrity is being re-developed to upgrade the Joomla software.

Please bear with us until the new site is ready.

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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.