Digital Economy Bill 2017 Update

Posted on May 03 2017 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | No Comments

Last week the Digital Economy Bill 2016-7 was passed by both Houses of Parliament and now receives Royal Assent which means it will be law imminently. The new legislation brings with it a number of important new implications for the industry (with some last minute changes to be aware of) so we’ve provided a summary of the key points below:

30Mbps USO scrapped in favour of 10Mbps

The 10Mbps USO for broadband has been on the cards for quite some time and its approval comes as no surprise to us. However, quite recently a proposal was passed by the House of Lords to increase this to 30Mbps by the existing 2020 deadline which seemed completely implausible to us. This has since been scrapped and the original 10Mbps confirmed; however a further clause to increase the USO has now been included. The Government will now be able to raise the USO’s minimum speed, once 75% of households have been upgraded to ‘superfast broadband’ services.

A full consultation is now expected to be held to iron out the details of the USO implementation, funding and requirements on industry.

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‘Growing up on the Internet’ – Education is key!

Posted on Mar 23 2017 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | No Comments

This week the House of Lords’ Communications Committee published a new report, ‘Growing up with the Internet’ which looks at how children should be protected online and sets out a number of new recommendations for industry and Government.

Key recommendations from the report are:

    • We recommend that all ISPs and mobile network operators should be required not only to offer child-friendly content control filters, but also for those filters to be ‘on’ by default for all customers. Adult customers should be able to switch off such filters.
    • Those responsible for providing filtering and blocking services need to be transparent about which sites they block and why, and be open to complaints from websites to review their decisions within an agreed timeframe. Filter systems should be designed to an agreed minimum standard.
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    30 Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) – Achievable or over ambitious?

    Posted on Mar 21 2017 by Neil Watson | No Comments

    Last month we learned that the seemingly ever-changing Digital Economy Bill has been subjected to yet another last minute amendment. This time, following its debate in the House of Lords, Lord Mendelsohn successfully proposed increasing the existing 10Mbps USO to 30Mbps – with 6Mbps upload – by 2020. But is delivering 30Mbps by that date realistically possible and is it a necessary requirement, or over-ambitious overkill?

    The initial plan was for the current BDUK programme to hit its expected 97% coverage by 2020 and then the 10Mbps USO would ensure the same minimum level of connectivity for the remaining 3%. Whilst specific methods and technologies have not yet been confirmed by Ofcom, achieving the existing 10Mbps USO is widely accepted as realistically possible via a variety of technologies that are expected to be delivered predominantly by BT, albeit with other providers in the mix. However, delivering a minimum service of 30 Mbps to 100% of the UK is a whole new ball game!

    Whilst we welcome the desire to increase speeds for consumers and encourage network investment across the industry, we believe this should be achieved through technological developments, not Government-imposed demands.

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    Looks like the IPA and EU can’t co-exist after all!

    Posted on Feb 28 2017 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | No Comments

    We previously asked “How can the Investigatory Powers Act ever co-exist with the EU?” and according to the latest industry news reports the answer is – it can’t!

    According to the technology news website, Ars Technica, a spokesperson from the Home Office has confirmed that the implementation of the highly controversial plans for widespread retention of customer data (regardless of whether or not the customer was being investigated for any crime) have been put on hold in response to the ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruling back in December.

    Despite the Government initially stating they had plans to work around the ECJ ruling it seems the plans have now been completely stalled whilst they await a court date for the appeal.

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    Age verification – Essential protection or slippery censorship slope?

    Posted on Feb 15 2017 by Paul Heritage-Redpath | No Comments

    Late last year news started to emerge that several amends had been made to the already highly controversial Digital Economy Bill (DEB) including the requirements around ‘age verification’ on pornography websites.

    The original plan was to include a note in the DEB to ensure the current optional ‘Parental Controls’ remained available to all customers following changes in EU legislation regarding net neutrality. However, the remit has expanded somewhat and now the DEB wants to implement a ‘tough age verification system’ on all websites displaying ‘adult content’ with ISPs required to block access to any such websites that are non-compliant.

    We discuss whether or not this is necessary to effectively protect children from accessing pornography on the Internet or if it’s a slippery slope towards further censorship?

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