UK Government publishes Digital Economy Bill draft

The UK Government today published its first draft of the Digital Economy Bill. As expected, it contains provisions addressing (text taken from Government explanatory fact sheet):

“Fast Broadband and support for consumers

  • new Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) for the United Kingdom – giving all citizens the legal right to request a 10Mbps broadband connection [See my prior sceptical commentary here]
  • new powers for Ofcom to help consumers access better information and enable consumers to act on that information through easier switching
  • new provisions to ensure that consumers are automatically compensated if things go wrong with their broadband service

Enabling digital infrastructure

  • new Electronic Communications Code to cut the cost and simplify the building of mobile and superfast broadband infrastructure [See my prior comments here]
  • new and simpler planning rules for building broadband infrastructure
  • new measures to manage radio spectrum to increase the capacity of mobile broadband

Protecting intellectual property

  • further supporting digital industries equalising penalties for online copyright infringement with laws on physical copyright infringement
  • new online design registration system – known as webmarking, to protect valuable rights

Government digital services

  • enabling government to deliver better public services and produce world leading research and statistics
  • enabling technology to manage information by allowing public authorities to connect where the objective has a public benefit
  • new powers for public authorities to share information to combat the public sector fraud which costs the country billions
  • help citizens manage their debt more effectively and reduce the billions of overdue debt owed to government
  • tough safeguards of personal data, reinforcing the Data Protection Act with new offences for unlawful disclosure

Protecting citizens in the digital economy

  • a new statutory code of practice for direct marketing, ensuring the Information Commissioner can better enforce sanctions against nuisance callers and spammers, ensuring that consent is obtained from consumers
  • protecting children from online pornography by requiring age verification for access to all sites and applications containing pornographic material”

I haven’t yet had time to digest the detailed proposals, and will comment on the various aspects in future posts.