Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

New UK Legislation Seeks to Control Internet Piracy and Copyright Infringement


Gigabit Internet Cafe
Gigabit Internet Cafe

April 27, 2010 By

Photo: Gigabit Internet Cafe, one of the fastest Internet connections in Britain. (Lee Jordan)

Did you know that in UK gas and electricity is never cut off -- it is usually metered in case of non-payment? And it is illegal to cut off water.

Talk of Internet though, and it is entirely a different matter. Although considered a service more wide ranging than utilities, according to UK's Digital Economy Bill that became a law a couple of weeks ago, someone could be disconnected from the Internet almost at a drop of a hat.

Moreover, this new law which was hastily passed by the UK parliament on April 8, has given governmental powers to Ofcom -- the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries -- to block websites that are likely to be used for infringing copyright. The Bill implements aspects of Government policy on digital media set out in the 'Digital Britain' White Paper published in June 2009.

The Bill that according to the Government sets out to secure UK's position as one of the world's leading digital knowledge, which accounts for nearly £1 in every £10 that the whole economy produces each year, has the following objectives:

o        To strengthen and modernize the country's communications infrastructure;

o        To make the UK one of the world's main creative capitals by tackling online infringement of copyright.

o        To ensure the provision of engaging public service content by:

o        And most notably to ensure that everyone can operate with confidence and safety.

Undoubtedly this bill is perhaps the most serious attempt yet by any European country (or any country for that matter) to tackle online piracy.

Consider this: over the last twelve months or so at least three governments -- New Zealand, France, and Spain -- tried to tame online piracy but failed to come up with a workable solution. The constant tussle between copyrighted content owners and civil liberty campaigners, who consider or seem to consider that almost any Internet clampdown a violation of the right to information, has always come as a serious hurdle to such efforts.

The US too in fact has been trying for much longer without any significant success.

Yet the harshness with which the new UK Bill has come down on Internet freedom is disturbing.

According to Open Rights Group -- a digital rights campaigner in Britain -- the Bill contains measures to allow disconnection of individuals from the Internet, for undefined periods of time and has web blocking laws, all with no real scrutiny and limited debate.

"Regardless of what you do or don't do, you could be punished for the actions of others because of laws put in place by the Digital Economy Bill: if you have unsecured WiFi in your home, you could be punished; if you use the Internet at your local coffee shop or library, you could lose access to that connection," the group argues.

Indeed there are quite a number of anomalies. For instance, although the Bill says proof is required before disconnection, it does not mandate that the evidence must relate to the holder of the Internet connection. Thus a subscriber could be punished for the actions of a friend or even a neighbor who has used that Internet connection.

Similarly, copyright holders have the power to demand that sites they believe to contravene copyright law be blocked by ISPs, without providing adequate evidence.

ORG adds that even if justice is not out of reach: a subscriber could appeal, but would not have to pay for the privilege that wouldn't be eligible for any legal aid. Reasons for appeal are limited too, and unlike in a trial, the onus would not be on


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All