Business ofcom piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Ofcom update on Digital Economy Act implementation timescales – slipped to Q1 2014 #DEAct

It seems a long time ago now, the passing of the Digital Economy Act. It’s easy to remember how long because it was rushed through just before the last general election and I’m sure that global historical events such as the re-emergence of a Liberal government (only joking) are amongst the list of dates you remember exactly what you were doing when “it” happened.

The assassination of JFK and 9/11 are the other two that spring to mind although others may well have other memorable dates – outbreak of WW2 etc. Note I don’t actually remember the JFK assassination, I was too young, but it is always one of the ones quoted.

Ofcom has updated ISPA and have said that the code of practice still has to go through various stages:

End User Regs surveillance & privacy

word on the street is that the govt is pulling the “surveillance” aspect of the Queen’s speech

Just heard that apparently the government is considering pulling the “snooping” bit of the Queen’s speech. Been told it is on the Times website which I can’t access. I’ll pass on more as I get it but it will also be on all the major news sites. Others feel the need to verify but I think this one is worth taking a punt on.

BBC is currently trying to validate this but if it is true then it is a major victory for common sense.

If what I say is all boloney then I’ll delete this post – I have the power 🙂

19.00 hrs – latest news from the Beeb suggests they aren’t pulling it but taking the foot off the gas a bit. Prepare for political wheezle words.

charitable Cloud datacentre End User social networking surveillance & privacy

The social media summary of the world record attempt

UK trending for @tref & #comment24 on twitter The world record attempt started at 6am on Thursday 5th Feb and ended at 6am the following day. There are three stories to tell here. The first is the charity fundraising aspect that was covered on Friday.

Second is the social media story. This was an event largely promoted using the #comment24 hashtag on twitter but the story was also posted on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. The effort also caught the imagination of a good number of friendly journalists as the list of names in the table of top referrers for 5th Jan illustrates.

referring site

# visits


time on site

1 (Twitter)





























































In all according to Google Analytics there were 162 referring sites over the 5th and 6th January. A Google search for

Business piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Sky blocks Newsbin2 too @edvaizey #deact #Chumbawumba, #MichaelJackson #JarvisCocker #Adele

I note that further to the court order presented to BT to block file sharing promoter Newsbin2 Sky is now also doing so. I have covered this a fair bit of late here here and here .

It is anticipated that all major consumer ISPs will get the same court order. It would be useful to measure the effectiveness of this activity. It will also be interesting to see whether Newsbin2 clones/mirrors will surface as  was the case with Wikileaks and Pirate Bay although to my knowledge Newsbin2 is only being blocked in the UK (happy to be corrected here). Furthermore it will be useful to see how much growth there is in encrypted traffic out of the UK following these court orders.

Newsbin2 is itself a phoenixed version of Newsbin.

Coincidentally in the House of Commons

Business piracy surveillance & privacy

EU Court of Justice rules it illegal to block “illegal” file downloading #Scarlet #SABAM

The EU Court of Justice has ruled that it is illegal to block copyright infringing file downloading on the basis of  the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information.

This  concludes a long running (2007) Scarlet-SABAM court case in which  Scarlet, a Belgian ISP was ordered by a national court to implement technical measures to block all P2P traffic that infringes rights held by the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM). The ruling also supplements a previous legal opinion on the subject by a EU High Court Judge that was not in itself binding in law.

This is a major milestone in the online Intellectual Property/Copyright saga and must surely bring into question the recent Newsbin2 judgement in which BT was required by a court to block access to the website that promotes the unlawful distribution of copyrighted material.

Proponents of internet blocking have already recently been acknowledging that in itself web-filtering is not a silver bullet. This is a softening of their previous hard line though it hasn’t stopped them seeking to implement filtering as “Newsbin2” shows. With today’s judgement from the European Court of Justice will this finally stop  Rights Holders attempting to do this?

It will be interesting to see what happens next…

PS I am not against the ownership of Intellectual Property but this whole subject needs approaching in a fair and proportionate manner.

Business dns internet scams security surveillance & privacy

Nominet – judge and jury of the world wide web?

We, the world, are still finding our feet on the internet, or more accurately the world wide web. The www is a great place to be and at the same time full of pitfalls and nasties. Much like real, physical life really. I taught my kids not to take sweeties from strangers – that applies on or offline.  In recent years I’ve added “don’t click on links you aren’t sure of” and probably a few other words of advice specific to tinterweb.

That’s a piece of wisdom relating to the www that had he but known it shows Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in action. Survival of the fittest and all that.

It isn’t just the consumer that is still trying to understand the landscape of the www. Government is, business is, as I said we all are.

The good folks at .uk registry Nominet are also trying to understand where they fit into all this. Nominet has come under scrutiny in recent years over its corporate governance.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Newsbin2 court ruling means BT has to ask permission to perform maintenance on network

The High Court this morning ruled that BT would have to block Newzbin2 within 14 days and pay its own costs.  The ruling can be read here.

It’s an interesting read and seems to run roughshod over BT – there seem to be no guarantees that the same order would be made against other ISPs which puts BT at a competitive disadvantage.

Seems crazy, but BT also now needs to seek authorisation from the movie studios when it wants to perform maintenance on their Cleanfeed filtering system, if the studios don’t reply quickly, then BT can apply to the courts to be allowed to do this – extract from the ruling below:

Business piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

@EdVaizey opens up web blocking talks to wider stakeholder community #deact

There has been widespread criticism of discussions being held between the ISP industry and RightsHolders over the latter’s desire to effect blocking of websites being seen to promote copyright infringement. It is natural. An activity conducted behind closed doors is bound to arouse suspicion.

The latest of these meetings happened yesterday but today communications minister Ed Vaizey chaired a session that allowed alternative voices to be heard.

Present at the meeting were representatives of the Taxpayers Alliance, Open Rights Group,Pirate Party,COADEC, Open Digital, Featured Artists Coalition,LINX and of course me.

I think Ed Vaizey found the level of debate far more constructive than he had been expecting. The gist was

Cloud End User surveillance & privacy travel

Fancy popping down to the library for a coffee?

British Library with St Pancras Station in the background

Popped in to the British Library for a coffee yesterday en route to a meeting. It’s handily placed next to Kings Cross Station and I had only been there once before when I gave a talk on the likely impact of the DEAct on public intermediaries such as libraries and universities.

I was very pleasantly surprised with the place but it did make me think what will happen when all books are available electronically? In theory people will have much less reason to visit a library, other than for a quick coffee and, in the case of the British library to view some “ancient treasures”. This potentially must go down as a great source of sadness.

I’m probably not a good example though since I don’t usually like to borrow books from a library or anywhere else.  This is because, for those of you unfamiliar with the system, you have to give them back. I’m sorry but online doesn’t cut it for me either. I have to have bookcase lined walls where I can identify old favourites by the colour of the spine. I have kindle on my iPad but have only ever downloaded free, “out of copyright” books – Darwin, Marx, Plato et al. Good stuff I know but they are a better read on paper.

So how will our behaviour towards books change when everything is online? Will an online librarian ask you to turn the music down, or the TV? Ssshhh for kindle’s sake.  Or am I barking up the wrong tree here?

Business piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Priorities for the new Communications Bill #deappg BSkyB Guardian Google

I attended a Forum last week entitled “The industry priorities for the new Communications Bill”. We were given a ten minute talk by representatives from each of the BBC, C4, COBA (Commercial Broadcasters Assoc), Wall to Wall (independent media prod’n), Virgin Media, Google, BSkyB, BT, ITV, UKTV, Mobile Broadband Group, Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (ie video games) and Guardian Media Group. Quite top heavy with content production.

It is interesting to note that in the last Communications Act (2004) the word internet does not appear. This may be because the government of the day wanted to avoid regulation in a nascent market – let it grow unhindered. Whilst the talk is still of light touch and self regulation I can’t help get the feeling that this time round there is a big shadow of government looming over the proceedings.

A few themes came out of the meeting.

The market needs to provide a level playing field that allows competition and encourages investment. This may include addressing issues that allows UK plc to compete in a global market – regulation overseas is often different to that in the UK and can cause difficulties for UK companies trying to operate globally.

Some content providers were calling for increased regulation to protect Intellectual property. There were interesting contrasts here:

David Wheeldon of BSkyB believed that the government should go further than it had in the DEAct to combat IP piracy and seemed to robustly reject some aspects of the Hargreaves Report (“it should be up to Rights Holders not government to decide how to exploit their IP”).

On the other hand Andrew Miller, CEO of the Guardian Media Group recognised that content provider organisations needed to adapt to the changes in modern technology and society to survive. For example in the UK The Guardian is seen as the 3rd or 4th biggest newspaper. However the Guardian websites gets 50 million unique visitors a month and is a recognised and trusted global source of comment and opinion. The Guardian Media Group is clearly trying to move with the times.

If I were the government putting this Bill together I would be focussing on what will help UK plc to grow in the global market and to avoid making it in the words of Google’s Head of UK Public Policy, Sarah Hunter “a dumping ground for regulations as appears to have been the case with the Digital Economy Act”.

There are 2 years of deliberations before this Bill makes it to law. We need to make sure that we get this one right and not leave it to a last minute indecent rush as happened with the DEAct.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

And the winner is – ISPA Internet Hero and Villain

I am pleased to report that this year’s Internet Hero is Professor Ian Hargreaves. His report on the problems associated with online copyright infringement was a sensible measured work that has been well received by many.

The villain is ACS Law/Andrew Crossley. Nuff said.

The awards were announced at the 2011 ISPA Awards held last night at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in town. As usual I was there. As usual I have pre written this post as I will not have the chance or inclination to write it in the morning.

There were some good candidates for the Hero and it took some discussion. The villain was an easy one to chose. May he rot forever in ignominy.

End User social networking surveillance & privacy

My personal guidelines for following people on Twitter

I have been using Twitter for over three years now. Although there seems to be a huge industry and ecosystem building up around the platform I view it all simply as

  1. an alternative to a newspaper (I often hear news first on Twitter) and
  2. a social networking tool – basically what it says on the tin.

Whilst there is no real science as to how I go about using Twitter I have surprised myself and evolved a few rules of thumb to help manage my timeline.

By and large I only follow people, not businesses – usually characterised by “we are having an offer on left handed widgets this week” or similar. This is not a hard rule because there are some businesses there that I take an interest in – competitors and suppliers typically. It might also be a business local to where I live. Sometimes these factors outweigh the fact that their tweets might not be that interesting.

I also typically don’t follow people who are clearly trying to sell me something; “marketing experts”, “financial services experts” or people offering “advice to business”. Usually the timelines of these twitter accounts have one way selling advice/messages. I have sometimes taken a gamble here and found that I made a mistake (eg timeline gets filled with advice, often repeats) and subsequently unfollowed that person. Usually they unfollow me back very soon after. This isn’t a personal thing.

Basically I feel it is a two way street. Normal people that I can have normal conversations with are ok. So if someone follows me who is a “normal person” I follow them back after taking a look at their tweets. I often come across people I follow through specific hashtags (eg #deappg, #deact or #digitalbritain). Birds of a feather and all that.

I sometimes follow people who then don’t follow me back. This is ok – I have taken to following people who’s judgement / comments I am interested in. I don’t look for reciprocity though it is nice if they do follow back.

I tend not to follow celebrities. Usually they have enough followers anyway and are unlikely to be particularly interested in engaging with me.

I recently started to look to see who was unfollowing me, largely to try and understand whether I was annoying people (I’m a great believer in live and let live – life is too short to go round being an irritant). The vast majority are the businesses and “experts” who I haven’t followed back recently – a result really. No harm done.

Sometimes normal people unfollow me. This does make you think a bit but actually in real life you don’t make friends with everyone you know – some people just don’t gell. It’s normal and it must be said that not everyone can cope with the stream of drivel that sometimes comes out of @tref. My Twitter stream is just an extension of my personality – like it or lump it.

It’s a simple philosophy. I am here to engage and to learn and to have fun and occasionally to promote my blog posts and my business. That’s all folks.

piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

#DEAct Early Day Motion needs your MP’s support

MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert has proposed an EDM entitled “Disconnection Of Users From The Internet” which calls up the report of the Special Rapporteur on Free Expression, Frank de la Rue, to the Human Rights Council of United Nations.

The report, covered last week on this blog comes out against web blocking and expresses  `alarm’ at the Digital Economy Act 2010.

This is an opportunity for you to chase your MP to get him or her to sign up and support this motion.  If you don’t know what his is about search for the DEAct on this blog.

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What a complex world wide web we have woven #UN #LaRue #deappg #DEAct

I have on many an occasion written about the complexities of life on the internet and the difficulties imposed on governments wanting to flex their controlling muscles thereon.

We have recently seen the Bailey report (child protection) and Hargreaves (Intellectual Property) and not so long ago it was The Digital Britain Report (economics), The Byron Report (children) and others, I’m sure before I started commenting.

These reports all look to a greater or lesser extent at how we should conduct our lives in the internet world.

Now, from the United Nations we have the La Rue Report of the “Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression”.

This is very interesting because it works as a counter to some of the forces being unleashed by the other reports mentioned.

For example website blocking is being sought by a number of interest groups including those wanting to protect children from online pornography, those wanting to protect their own private commercial interests and those wanting to protect the rest of us from people with extreme political views.

The United Nations

  • comes out against website blocking with the one exception of tightly controlled blocking of child pornography
  • emphasises the importance of freedom of expression – you better be really sure about a site’s illegality before doing something about it (ie taking it down/blocking)
  • considers the disconnection from the internet, including on the grounds of violating intellectual property right law, to be to be disproportionate and thus a violation of article 19, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • wants the right to online privacy and anonymity guaranteed
  • thinks that ISPs as intermediaries should be protected as mere conduits of data to and from the internet

This is a very important report and worth a read. There is an element of “Magna Carta” about it. Not being a lawyer I am unsure as to where it stands in respect of legality of the points it makes but I’m sure someone can chip in here.

It would also be worth getting some feedback from the UK government as to how it might affect its stance regarding some legislation such as the Digital Economy Act.

Business ofcom piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

A look at Hargreaves from the #DEAct perspective – a year too late #DEAPPG

Hargreaves report as applied to the Digital Economy Act

The Hargreaves Report, entitled Digital Opportunity, A Review of Intellectual Property and Growth, has already been extensively covered in a land rush of people wanting to get an early comment out there. The feedback has generally been good though not from all quarters as this response from the Business Software Alliance shows.

It is difficult to provide objective comment on the report without simply been seen to be replicating parts of it as its 130 pages are well written and provide their own concise summary. Also the document took 5 months to compile and a 30 minute read is not going to result in an analysis that would not be bettered by reading the report itself.

It was however interesting to note that the first point brought out by Prof Hargreaves was something I wrote about yesterday following the Nominet Policy Forum which is the need to base policy on evidence:

“Government should ensure that development of the IP System is driven as far as possible by objective evidence.”

“The frequency of major reviews of IP (four in the last six years) indicates the shortcomings of the UK system. In the 1970s, the Banks Review deplored the lack of evidence to support policy judgments, as did the Gowers Review five years ago. Of the 54 recommendations advanced by Gowers, only 25 have been implemented. On copyright issues, lobbying on behalf of rights owners has been more persuasive to Ministers than economic impact assessments”

He specifically highlights the lack of evidence when addressing the problem of online copyright infringement:

“The uncertain and disputed nature of the prevalence data makes it difficult to reach confident conclusions about the impact of copyright piracy on growth. This assessment is complicated further by a number of other relevant points:

  • not all illegal downloads are lost sales – the user may not have paid a higher price for a legal copy absent cheap or free illegal versions;
  • money not spent on legal copies is not lost to the economy – it may be spent on other purchases. This is of no comfort to the sector suffering losses, but the effects across the economy will not necessarily be problematic;
  • even within the industry affected, purchases prompted by experience from an illegal copy (for example, concert tickets or other merchandise) can offset losses; “

“Most experts we spoke with and the literature we reviewed observed that despite significant efforts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the net effect of counterfeiting and piracy on the economy as a whole.”

Hargreaves concluded that the government should not “do nothing” re this particular problem but that Ofcom should urgently go about building an evidence mechanism that will be useful in determining the efficacy of the measures proposed in the Digital Economy Act – because it plainly is not there yet.

To a large extent Hargreaves has performed the due diligence that was not done during the passing of the Digital Economy Act. It is a shame it is a year too late.

You can download the report here – as government sponsored studies go it is one of the better reads.

I have cherry picked more of the report as pertains to the Digital Economy Act here if you want to save yourself the trouble:

Business dns internet Regs surveillance & privacy

Where is the evidence? Thoughts after the @Nominet .uk Policy Forum #DEAPPG #DEACT

David Lowe of Intellectual Property Office - regulations must be evidence based

I sometimes get the feeling that we are seeing a modern day version of continental drift in action. In our case the move is inexorably into a virtual world that is called the web. It is happening at light speed – not centimetres a year as we are used to the with rocks out houses are built on.

The new world order is bringing about changes, uncomfortable for some and worrying for others. It was to provide a platform to discuss these changes that .UK registrar  Nominet organised its first .UK Policy Forum in London yesterday. In a day where many subject were discussed it is difficult to pull out the key messages but some stick in my mind.

Internet minister Ed Vaizey who, due to commitments overseas,  appeared in a pre-recorded video in which he emphasized that the government’s approach was one of light touch and the encouragement of self regulation.

Self-regulation in such a fast moving world as ours is often the only way to work. Governments still base their schedules using the old centimetres model. The internet industry is largely self regulating. Competition and common sense morals do most of the work for us.

That isn’t to say this is always going to work but

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Internet Heroes (hooray) and Internet Villains (boo hiss) #deappg

In an unprecedented move the Internet Services Providers’ Association has opened the nomination process for Internet Hero and Villain to you, the general public.

The Hero and Villain are fun categories in the forthcoming ISPA Awards (London, 7th July) and last year were won by Tom Watson MP and Lord Mandelson for their respective roles during the passing of the Digital Economy Act. Last years’ was a pretty straightforward vote.

This year I think it is going to be different. I’m not so sure that there are potential candidates with the same outstanding qualities.  I could be wrong and would be glad to hear from blog readers who they think might put up as heroes and villains.

I can think of a judge or two that would fit into either camp and at least one MP. ACSLaw, who were an unsuccessful candidate last year could also easily fit in as a villain this year (though they are so last year!).  I’m looking for ideas. You can provide suggestions directly to ISPA via Twitter to @ISPAUK #ISPAs or email them at [email protected] or you can leave a comment on the blog.

The ISPA council will be voting on a shortlist of candidates for both awards before the night.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Are you going to the #ISPAs? – I am

Short note to point out to those of you who may have missed it is that Timico is a finalist in two categories for the ISPAs (The Internet Service Providers’ Association Awards). We are in the Best Business Fixed ISP and Best Mobile Broadband categories. Sister company NewNet are also finalists in the Best Business Broadband and Best Dedicated Hosting categories. Nothing like a bit of friendly rivalry.

Our mobile broadband service is not simply a rebadge of one of the mobile operators. It’s a multi-tenant APN solution that allows small and medium sized businesses to have their own private mobile data  network hooked into their fixed MPLS network without the big up front costs that normally mean this is the domain of larger enterprises. No VPN overhead, no having to reconnect after going through mobile coverage blackspots. Very enterprising I think 🙂

There were 46 entrants out of the 200+ members of ISPA so to get two “finalist” badges is good going. If you are coming to the awards night at the Royal Lancaster Hotel on 7th July look me up and I will buy you a drink (limited places – get your booking in early :).

The ISPAs are genuinely independent awards – brown envelopes don’t work. They aren’t influenced by advertisers or sponsors and to be a finalist is a good independent endorsement of your service.

That’s it.


End User piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Judge says IP address alone not enough to prove guilt #DEAct #DEAPPG @edvaizey

US judge Harold Baker has denied a rights holder access to identity data of  ISP subscribers  whose IP addresses were identified as being associated with “illegal” file sharing. The judge said “there is no way to identify whether the computer used to commit a particular offence belonged to the subscriber, or to somebody else using that internet connection”.

In the UK court ruling against ACS Law the judge stated that the use of IP addresses as evidence was “untested”. This is now not the case (although obviously the test case was not in the UK).  Moreover this totally undermines the basic foundation of the Digital Economy Act and the three strikes system being introduced by the government to try and reduce unlawful copyright infringement.

I guess it may yet go to appeal in the USA but you would think that the body of evidence against the Digital Economy Act’s position is surely growing. Unfortunately the DEAct was fueled by emotion and not evidence.


Business ofcom piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Ed Richards confirms #DEAct copyright infringement notices scheme will not be operational for many months #deappg

The Culture Media and Sport Committee held an evidence session on the work of Ofcom today. The Committee briefly touched on the DEA and Louise Bagshawe, the Conservative MP and author, questioned Ofcom’s CEO Ed Richards about the implementation schedule of the Act.

Mr Richards stated that that the Copyright Infringement Notification scheme will not be operational for many months from now and that it may well take another 12 months before the first CIRs are sent out. He further explained that:

  • As members are aware, Ofcom completed its work on the Obligations Code and submitted it to Government months ago.
  • The Code is currently being subjected to a scrutiny process across Government departments and will be submitted to the EU Commission once it has cleared this process.
  • Following the JR, the Government will have to reissue the Sharing of Costs Order to accommodate the High Court’s decision that ISPs cannot be asked to pay set up costs.
  • Ofcom will submit its report on the web blocking powers under the DEA in the course of this month

Ed Richards also briefly touched on Ofcom’s content regulation role. He explained that this power is not yet redundant but potentially on ‘on borrowed time’, given the ease of accessing content on the internet. He stated that this is something that Parliament needs to work out over the next years and that the new Communications Act will be an opportunity to implement changes.

I assume this is Ed Richards side stepping the complicated issue of web filtering.

Readers may be aware that Ms Bagshawe is a former author and in favour of rightsholder’s interest. In her statements on online copyright issues she frequently refers to her conversations with the BPI.

I am indebted to ISPA for the detail of this report. For those interested the Judicial Review judgement can be found here with cost sharing covered in paragraphs 184 – 200.

Business piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Top EU judge says web blocking to prevent copyright infringement infringes fundamental human rights #deappg #deact @edvaizey

The Court of Justice of the European Union yesterday issued a press release stating that “According to Advocate General Cruz Villalón, a measure ordering an internet service provider to install a system for filtering and blocking electronic communications in order to protect intellectual property rights in principle infringes fundamental rights.”

In other words web blocking to try and prevent unlawful P2P downloading is wrong.

“Advocate General Cruz Villalón considers that the installation of that filtering and blocking system is a restriction on the right to respect for the privacy of communications and the right to protection of personal data, both of which are rights protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights. By the same token, the deployment of such a system would restrict freedom of information, which is also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

This is an independent legal opinion and not a court judgement but I understand that the court normally adheres to the Advocate General’s line. This particular opinion is issued in relation to the Scarlet Sabam case which involves copyright infringement. In my mind this should also extend to other areas where calls have been made to introduce web blocking such as porn.

It will be interesting to see the reaction to this opinion in the UK. Communications minister Ed Vaizey has been in the press recently with his controversial initiative to see whether ISPs and RightsHolders would be able to find an acceptable way of blocking access to sites promoting P2P file sharing and copyright infringement.

Business piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Don’t block me #DEAct #DEAPPG

It’s a while since I covered the Digital Economy Act, its ramifications and repercussions but last week saw the court hearings take place for the BT/TalkTalk Judicial Review. I was somewhat mistaken in the belief that we might also hear the output of the JR last week but this is not so. The judge needs to go away and deliberate in the way learned people deliberate (this is either hand on chin looking thoughtfully into the distance or chin on chest looking down at interlocked fingers).

The media is already saying that the DEAct implementation is going to be subject to long delays – it already is – we have been waiting for the publication of the Code of Practice for months now. What has been going on in the meantime is further lobbying by Rights Holders to try and get ISPs to block access to websites that promote or support copyright infringement.

Initially this was seen as strange because the DEAct already provides for this to be looked at in the event that the three strikes mechanisms isn’t seen to be working. Cake and eat it springs to mind.

With hindsight it looks as if this was an insurance policy on the part of the RHs in case the DEAct was thrown out in court or subject to delays.

Ed Vaizey has already met with ISPs and RHs in round table meetings to digital content and piracy, the second time being on 23 February 2011. No agreements were made and I believe this is a very long way off. A further meeting is being held next week.

Blocking is likely to be expensive, ineffective, have unintended consequences (eg innocent websites being blocked), seen as censorship, stifle the open growth of the internet ecology and require huge involvement of the judiciary – I certainly would not be happy with ISPs or Rights Holders taking ownership of choosing which sites to block.

Come on guys. Lets try and see a bit of sense here.

Business piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

@edvaizey answers to @tom_watson questions – take note @Marthalanefox #DEAct #deappg

portcullisYou have to be particularly interested in a topic to read Hansard, the report of parliamentary proceedings. Twitter has made it a lot easier, albeit hit and miss – you typically have to catch the tweet in the stream as it happens.

This week Ed Vaizey gave some answers to questions put by ISPA Internet Hero Tom Watson MP. Specifically Mr Vaizey said that the impact assessment on the DEAct suggested that the additional costs that would have to be applied to consumers broadband lines would have a relatively small but permanent effect of reducing demand for broadband connection by between 10,000-40,000. All assuming that the ISPs would pass on the full costs to their customers.

There are a few observations to make here.

Firstly the obvious one is that this goes against another government policy of trying to promote digital inclusion. Might the government now want to subsidise 10,000 – 40,000 broadband connections to offset the fact that they will not now be able to afford broadband. I wonder whether Martha Lane Fox, the government’s own Digital Inclusion Champion has any comments to make here?

The second point concerns the numbers used in the Impact Assessment itself. There is very little confidence within the ISP industry that the government got this right.

The Impact Assessment assumes that the total annual cost to all ISPs is between £30m and £50m. TalkTalk and BT have been suggesting that the annualized costs to their companies along are considerably higher than the total assumed for the whole industry.

The Impact Assessment clearly needs reviewing. Broadband expansion has been largely down to big cost reductions by ISPs in a very competitive market place. There is a clear relationship between broadband penetration and cost of the service. It has long since got to the point where consumer ISPs especially have had to expand their value proposition away from pure internet access because in itself this service had become unprofitable.

It would not surprise me to see a new Impact Assessment based on real costs showing a massively higher number of people that would be excluded from the broadband market.
I guess we will have to wait until after the Judicial Review to see what happens. In the meantime, c’mon Martha get your boxing gloves on. There is a fight going on here.

Link to Hansard – includes some other DEAct related questions from Tom Watson.

Business ofcom piracy surveillance & privacy

#ACSLaw court judgement #MediaCAT #DEAct #DEAPPG


ACS Law hit notoriety for bullying broadband users into paying a fine in lieu of being taken to court for alleged “online copyright infringement”. Victims had no idea what their rights were and apparently frequently paid up rather than going through the expensive courts process.

It was reported yesterday that ACS Law had ceased trading – in order to avoid the potenial fines likely to arise out of the court action. Today they were apparently represented in court by a new barrister.

Reports from the court via twitter stream state:

  • ACS Law has not been allowed to discontinue 27 cases it tried to drop last month.
  • The judge today said letters to alleged filesharers “materially overstates the untested merits” of proving MediaCAT copyright infringement.
  • Also Judge: “Media CAT and #ACSLaw have very real interest in avoiding public scrutiny ” because of revenue from from “wholesale letter writing”
Apps End User Regs security surveillance & privacy

how to get round your school’s web filter #deappg #DEAct

Somewhat a contentious title for a post? Provocative? It is topical though with all the discussion in the media regarding the government’s review on whether web blocking really works or is cost effective (re Digital Economy Act), and also MP Claire Perry calling on ISPs to implement filtering to stop kids reaching online porn.

I just did a Goole search on “bypassing school proxy”. It came up with 847,000 results including a link to “”. I followed one of the links and found a ton of advice on how to get around a school’s filter system. These ad-funded sites are very youth orientated. One of the posts had 198 discussion comments!

My(oft repeated)  point is that blocking ain’t going to work and anyone that naively thinks that most kids will not know how to go about circumventing a block on websites, whatever their flavour, needs to spend some time in a playground.

PS the discussion had been deleted but most of these sites do not have the integrity or the corporate image to uphold. All most of the 847,000 sites (pages) are interested in is your money.


Business online safety piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

Swedish ISP Bahnhof provides anonymity to customers by default – #deappg #deact #Wikileaks

Swedish ISP, Banhof, is offering a service that provides its customers with total anonymity on the internet.

We have the privilege to be able to offer a solution for those who want to remain anonymous on the net. When you go online with our partner, all traffic to and from the Internet to go through their servers through an encrypted “tunnel”, which means that nobody can see what you are doing.

Bahnhof, which apparently now hosts the Wikileaks website, does not keep logs of customer activites and would not be able to provide this information to anyone requesting it for the purposes of litigation (*eg Rights Holders in pursuit of copyright infringers – a hot topic at the moment with regard to the Digital Economy Act).

This raises quite an interesting point.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Flashback to 211210 – Trefor Davies Discusses Porn Blocking with BBC Lincolnshire’s William Wright

Flashback to the week before Christmas where Trefor Davies discusses the issues surrounding blocking porn sites on the internet with BBC Lincolnshire’s William Wright.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Review of 2010 #DEAct #bandwidth, #mobile #wifi #deappg

Wow what happened to 2010? As the years go by they seem to go more quickly. The faster they go the more I try to cram into them which makes them go even faster! You have to do it -we’ll be a long time pushing up daisies!

With so much happening it is difficult to pick out the wood from the trees (I can see this post is going to be riddled with clichés). In fact as CTO of an ISP I am having to be more and more of a generalist because our world is now filled with so many rapidly changing issues and technologies that trying to keep up with developments is a full time job.

Keep it simple stupid

So really I have to keep it simple and stick to big messages. This is something I learnt during the year in my involvement with UK internet politics.

Business Regs surveillance & privacy

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry into Intellectual Property Rights delayed #deappg #deact

Last month the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee kicked off an Inquiry into Intellectual Property Rights. The Committee was particularly interested in discussing the implementation and effects of the Digital Economy Act (DEA). The Inquiry was intended to look at

  • Whether the new framework has captured the right balance between supporting creative work online and the rights of subscribers and ISPs.
  • Whether the notification process is fair and proportionate.
  • The extent to which the associated costs might hinder the operation of the Act.
  • At what point, if at all, consideration should be given to introducing the additional technical measures allowed for under the Act.
  • Intellectual Property and barriers to new internet-based business models, including information access, the costs of obtaining permissions from existing rights-holders, and “fair use.”

The deadline for responses was Wednesday, January 5.  DCMS has today announced that it will not hold any evidence sessions in public until judicial review proceedings surrounding the DEA are concluded (March-April 2011). The Committee has also extended the deadline for the submission of written evidence to 23 March 2011.

I does sound as if we are not going to hear back from this Inquiry until MPs go on their summer holidays (2011). If BT and Talk Talk are successful with their Judicial Review then at least this Inquiry would be a good preparation for a DEAct 2.0.

Business ofcom piracy Regs surveillance & privacy

#DEAct event at House of Commons #deappg

I attended the DEAct workshop at the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon.  Held in the Jubilee room off the Great  Hall of Westminster, this put together once more rights holders and everyone else in a session that had been organised by Eric Joyce MP in order to be able to put together a summary of the two positions for MPs to take away with them over the holidays.

There is an immediately an observation here in saying “rights holders and everyone else”. It is more than just the ISP community that is objecting to the Digital Economy Act. Consumer and human rights groups are also also in opposition to the Act.

In a sense this meeting was just a rehash of all that has been said before. It was held, however, because with the ongoing Judicial Review and the Parliamentary inquiry (that should have been held before the Act was passed) do present real opportunities to make changes.

The two positions can be summarised quite easily:

  1. Rights Holders are appealing for fairness in that unlawful copyright infringement is taking away revenues and is effectivley stealing – they equate copying a file to taking a CD from a store without paying.  Whilst there are philosophical arguments around this most people agree with them and sympathise.
  2. RHs see the implementation of the (delayed and as yet unpublished) Ofcom  Code of Practice as a means to give the population a wake up call – a jolt to remind them that it is “wrong to steal” and point them in the direction  of legal means of acquiring the copyrighted material.

Those opposed to the Act say:

  1. The process defined in the Act is fundamentally flawed in that it assumes that the broadband account holder is responsible for the copyright infringement – something that would be very difficult to get past a court of law
  2. Those accused of infringing are being asked to prove their innocence which goes against all our democratic principles of fair play – the Code also does not allow for an appeal until too far into the process and then not before a judge

There are many other issues such as who pays and the practicalities of disconnection and website filtering as technical measures but in a sense these are almost side plays to the fairness and human rights aspects.

The reality here is that someone is going to be hurt whatever happens and the judgement that must be made relates to the fairness of who gets hurt.  Is it fair to open up Mrs Abercrombie next door to the possibilites of fundamental injustices versus is it fair to let the rights holders industries suffer and decline.

The fact is that Mrs Abercrombie will get hurt. There is also a very real scenario where the country will go to all the efforts prescribed by the Digital Economy Act and also incur the huge costs with a result that will have zero impact on levels of online copyright infringement. This Act is all about stick and no carrot.

What is certainly clear is that with the evolution of the internet and the world wibe web the world society is going through a huge change. Much of this is for the better but as in all situations of change it is not to everyone’s liking.  When Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny it put many home weavers out of business but did not kill off the weaving industry. It just changed it. Like my analogy or not this is where the creative industries are at now. The biggest problem for them I fear is that it is not obvious how their business model is going to evolve.

In carrying out their inquiry into the DEAct the government should not only recognise this but also that sticks don’t work and they should concentrate more on the carrots.

PS as a postscript I am given to believe that the issue of public intermediaries (ie libraries, universities etc) caught under the act is going to be treated sympathetically. It would be very bad press for this not to be the case at a time of cost cutting. It unfortunately potentially also open up big holes in the effectiveness of the Act. We can only wait and see here.