UK Digital Economy Bill: No Teeth, No Investment

19 11 2009

The Government’s Digital Economy Bill was announced in the Queen’s speech yesterday.

The bill is perhaps not as radical as it could have been, although it includes the power to disconnect persistent pirates in a manner akin to Lord Mandelson’s ‘three strikes’ (#threestrikes) policy. There was no mention of a broadband tax, which had been mooted earlier in the year. Other elements of the bill include a shake-up of the radio spectrum (switchover to digital due 2015) and a classification system for video games which are for children over twelve years old.

The bill is light on detail: Ofcom will be required to assess the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years, but there is no plan for encouraging mass investment in key broadband infrastructure. This will be a key feature of the Post-Bureaucratic Age, and it is the government’s duty to ensure that all citizens have access to fast, reliable broadband connections. The UK currently sits mid-table worldwide, in terms of broadband connectivity and speed. The government has resolutely ignored this crucial area, focusing instead on headline-catching (and most probably illegal under EU law) plans to disconnect illegal file-sharers.

The Open Rights Group is urging people to contact their MP to oppose the plans.

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