Digital Britain Report: Broadband Roadmap Made Public
Introduced to Parliament earlier this year, the UK's Digital Britain Report has been made public. Two elements that are making headlines -- and raising hackles-- today are the proposed breakup of the BBC license-fee monopoly and the further empowerment of Ofcom to enforce intellectual property rights of major-labe content owners. Also, the government's ambitious broadband-for-all plan would be subsidized by an annual fee of £6 ($12) per landline, of which fewer and fewer are used each year as citizens go more and more mobile.
Publishing the report today, the government proposed that from 2013 about £130m a year from the licence fee would fund a series of independent consortia of local news providers in place of ITV's current regional news service.
British ISPs will also be required to reduce illegal file sharing by 70%, overseen by a newly-empowered Ofcom.The ISPs themselves are bridling at this suggestion, as such data collection and enforcement would be expensive, and the providers do not want to pay for it themselves.
The government will empower Ofcom to demand that ISPs collect data about alleged infringers of online rights – by downloading or uploading content without permission – and to notify them that their conduct is unlawful.
There's a trojan horse in here, though: if Ofcom doesn't see its coveted 70% reduction rate after one year (a very optimistic goal for an organization which has never attempted anything like this before), then it will be able to initiate as-yet-undetailed "further measures". What, you mean beyond spying on and shuttding dow the service of private citizens?
Lord Carter, who introduced the reoprt, doesn't quite manage to answer his own rhetorical question:
Carter acknowledged that the levy would hit consumers in the pocket at a time when many households were feeling the pinch.
"How will the public react? We will find out," he said. "Our view as a government is that it's a good exercise of judgment."
This report is just that: a proposal, and no elements have yet become law.