On 5 July 2016, the UK Government published its first draft of the Digital Economy Bill.

As expected, it contains provisions addressing (text taken from Government explanatory fact sheet):

“Fast Broadband and support for consumers

  • new Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) for the United Kingdom – giving all citizens the legal right to request a 10Mbps broadband connection
  • new powers for Ofcom to help consumers access better information and enable consumers to act on that information through easier switching
  • new provisions to ensure that consumers are automatically compensated if things go wrong with their broadband service

Enabling digital infrastructure

  • new Electronic Communications Code to cut the cost and simplify the building of mobile and superfast broadband infrastructure
  • new and simpler planning rules for building broadband infrastructure
  • new measures to manage radio spectrum to increase the capacity of mobile broadband

Protecting intellectual property

  • further supporting digital industries equalising penalties for online copyright infringement with laws on physical copyright infringement
  • new online design registration system – known as webmarking, to protect valuable rights

Government digital services

  • enabling government to deliver better public services and produce world leading research and statistics
  • enabling technology to manage information by allowing public authorities to connect where the objective has a public benefit
  • new powers for public authorities to share information to combat the public sector fraud which costs the country billions
  • help citizens manage their debt more effectively and reduce the billions of overdue debt owed to government
  • tough safeguards of personal data, reinforcing the Data Protection Act with new offences for unlawful disclosure

Protecting citizens in the digital economy

  • a new statutory code of practice for direct marketing, ensuring the Information Commissioner can better enforce sanctions against nuisance callers and spammers, ensuring that consent is obtained from consumers
  • protecting children from online pornography by requiring age verification for access to all sites and applications containing pornographic material”