Ofcom held a DEAct definitions meeting with ISPs yesterday afternoon. Although I couldn’t make this one I have discussed the progress made with some of the attendees.
My view is that Ofcom has been given a task, the generation of the draft Digital Economy Act Code of Practice, that is impossible to fulfil to everyone’s satisfaction in the three weeks that the regulator has left to complete it.
The meeting did not nail the major issues in terms of definition of who is and isn’t an ISP or Subscriber. Some of the definitions are highly complex and subject to different interpretations. The natural order of these things, believe it or not, is to brush the problem areas under the carpet and assume that this will be ok.
However in this case using the “carpet technique” potentially leaves huge holes in the legislation that will make it completely ineffective.
For example nobody believes that the intention of the Act is to kill off the WiFi hotspot market. Is a WiFi hostpot operator a subscriber or a Communications Provider? The latter potentially as it is selling/providing services to custmers. It is impossible in a many cases to be able to identify the subscriber on these hotspots so infringement notices go to who?
So whilst it isn’t Parliament’s intention to kill off WiFi hotspots if they don’t do so then these connections will become defacto standard targets for those wanting to continue to download copyrighted material.
Marry in haste and repent at leisure (or words to that effect).
Also good luck to the people at Ofcom because they are, in my experience, by and large intelligent and able folk. We only have to wait 3 weeks to see what they come up with.