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Whatever Happened To The Digital Economy Act 2017? - The Communications Blog - Birchills Telecom

Whatever Happened To The Digital Economy Act 2017? - The Communications Blog - Birchills Telecom

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Whatever Happened To The Digital Economy Act 2017?

Birchills Telecom
Published by in News ·

The Digital Economy Act was passed in 2017 but rather got overshadowed by the snap election. It is all about doing things that are clearly beneficial to the public.  The most reported section of the act was to prevent under age people viewing porn on line – otherwise known as age verification.
The complaints that have been made largely are that the act should have gone further with the level of fines.

Governments world wide often seem to be powerless to prevent websites from operating, for example there are numerous torrenting sites still easily available including the venerable Pirate Bay. So there is widespread doubt about the ability of the government to achieve its goals.

Provisions Of The Act

Allow data sharing between government departments in order to provide Digital Government.
Guides published in July 2018 – they are here

Create an age-verification regulator to publish guidelines about how pornographic websites should ensure their users are aged 18 or older. Powers will exist to order the blocking of non-compliant websites, and to require those providing financial or advertising services to non-compliant websites to cease doing so. The regulator appointed in December 2017 is the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).  They completed a consultation in April and guidelines have been produced. The government is delaying and now proposes to bring the guidelines before parliament in the Autumn. The legislation is still slated to be enforced from December, but more slippage is possible.

Require Internet service providers to use Internet filters to block all websites that have adult content, unless customers have opted out. Seems to be in force now
Introduce a Universal Service Obligation which allows users to request broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps. The obligation is to be introduced by 2020, and Ofcom are empowered to subsequently increase the minimum broadband speed requirement. This is a work in progress

Require Internet service providers to provide compensation to customers if service requirements are not met. Operational

Allow Ofcom, the communications sector's regulator, to financially penalise communications providers for failing to comply with licence commitments. Operational

Require mobile telephony providers to offer a contract cap to customers limiting monthly spending to an agreed figure. Operational

Provide for increased penalties for nuisance calls. Operational

Update the Ofcom Electronic Communications Code to make it easier for telecommunications companies to erect and extend mobile masts. Operational

Extend Public Lending Right to remotely lent e-books. Operational

Modify the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to raise the maximum sentence for Internet copyright infringement to 10 years in prison and allow English and Welsh courts a greater range of sentencing options in such cases. Operational

Modify the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to allow public service broadcasters to charge retransmission fees. Operational

Give Ofcom oversight of the BBC as its external regulator. Operational

Empower Ofcom to require public service broadcasters to include a minimum quantity of children's programming made in the United Kingdom. Operational


The main provision that is still due to come into force is the age verification system(s). It will be interesting to see if once introduced it actually has any real world effect. We suspect that it will be easily overridden by any bright 8 year old.

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