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BT's boss comes out fighting

Rory Cellan-Jones | 08:53 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

When I dropped in to the BT headquarters opposite St Paul's Cathedral for a chat with the chief executive, I was expecting no more than a quick rundown on why the company's broadband product was so fabulous. I did indeed get that from Ian Livingston but I also got far more - a robust account of what was wrong with the Digital Economy Bill and an insistence that fast broadband would not reach across the whole country without some public money.

BT TowerWhat Mr Livingston had to say will not make comfortable reading for Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats. On the bill, he was concerned that people were going to have their right to fair hearing in court taken away - that his customers could end up having their internet accounts suspended for alleged illegal file-sharing without due process. He proposed an alternative - a system of fines much like those imposed on speeding motorists, with the accused then choosing either to pay up or have their day in court.

Ian Livingston also joined other technology firm bosses in a letter to the Financial Times warning that an amendment put together last week by Liberal Democrat and Conservative peers had actually made the bill worse rather than better.

I met another of the letter's signatories last night who explained that in replacing a clause that might have meant a future government bringing in draconian powers to take down websites which infringed copyright, the peers had instead made that possible straight away. (You would of course get a rather different view from the creative industries. Later on Wednesday a study funded by the unions will argue that online piracy is costing the UK economy dear and the damage will be even more serious if action isn't taken soon.)

But back to Ian Livingston and his thoughts on broadband. He was keen first of all to impress upon me all sorts of statistics showing that when it comes to price and availability, broadband in the UK ranks among the best in the world. Of course that's not the case when it comes to speed, with investment in fast fibre networks really only just beginning.

Mr Livingston seemed clearer than some of his predecessors that there would be an appetite for ultra-fast broadband, showing me a demo where four simultaneous streams of HD video were arriving down a 40Mbps line. But was adamant that neither his company nor the market as a whole would be able to afford to bring fibre to all. "It's quite clear that if you look around the world," he told me, "that there is going to have to be some form of government intervention in terms of some form of support to help fund roughly a third of the country that won't get fibre in any other way."

That's not quite how the Conservatives see it - they appear confident that the market, coupled with a bit more regulatory pressure on BT, will bring fast broadband to most of Britain. If they form the next government, their relationship with the country's biggest broadband supplier could be prickly.

BT has appeared content in recent months to let Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse grab the limelight when it comes to telling politicians what to think about technology policy. Now it seems Ian Livingston wants to make sure his voice is heard.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    There's a pretty simple reason, really, why BT would suggest this change.

    A fined customer can still subscribe to broadband; someone with their access removed has no reason to. BT (and other broadband providers) stand to lose money as a result of this legislation, so it's natural they would oppose it.

    That said, I think this is a ludicrous law, so I'll take any comments against it as a good thing.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mandelson is behind the bill (and no doubt this comment will be deleted because his evil influence strikes fear in all who dare challenge the Prince Of Darkness).

    Mandelson is working for the entertainment industry that is too lazy to explore new business models based on the arrival of the internet. So rather than force them to adapt he would rather cripple the internet at their behest.

    A simple solution would be to create an airplay version of downloads. Just as Radio stations monitor their playlists they could monitor downloading and charge the internet service providers a royalties amount based on the downloading.

    In turn the government should shift the BBC License fee to include internet usage (since one of the best things the BBC does is it's website) and get some of that money invested in laying down more fibre optic cable. Also the mobile internet providers (especially with the unopposed merger of Orange/T-mobile) should be subsidised to build up their mobile data networks to take some of the strain off of landlines.

    If we instead spent taxpayers money on free wi-fi in the cities (instead of wasteful nonsense like the Olympics etc) we could be a leading nation in technology and internet.

    As it is corporate greed, political corruption (Mandelson et al) and general incompetence, will hold us back.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well if they want to block my services for the occasional film etc then i can block my payments.
    One thing that has yet to be looked at is disabled access to cinimas... but they have it you say.... pysicaly disabled yes they do but what about mentaly disabled people .. people who cant leave thier homes because of mental illness. this bill will further turn people like my self into second class criminals or should we wait like good second class citizens for the DVD.... No discrimination there?

    As someone who is mostly house bound I rely on the internet to bring me entertainment, even if it is a poor cam a R5 a TS...

    If they realy want to do somthing about this problem then they will cut the price of producats reduce ticket prices dvd prices blueray prices. piracy only exists because the markets are overpriced...

    A friend of mine was a progectionist for appolo cinima before they closed the doors. tickets were a couple of quid a family of 5 could watch a movie for £10.. now the nearest local cinima is £8 a head thats £40 before you step out the door.. let alone forced sales of sweets and drinks at their prices...

    You only have to look back at Russia with 95% piracy in highstreet shops to see how the solution works... I belive there was an average of 80% cut in the price of DVD's and blue ray to combat this and it worked..

  • Comment number 5.

    Access to the internet is a basic right - with access to health care, knowledge, family and friends communication, government services and online banking - taking away this access, for what are fundamentally commercial reasons, is wrong. Access to internet services should be encouraged and not treated as an optional service which can be easily denied (not only from the person involved in file sharing but the company or family they share access with).

    Solutions to problems involving laws taking away basic rights are wrong and must be seen to be wrong. Adding a new load to our criminal justice system and administrating fines, considering the volume of people involved in peer to peer file sharing, will be a taxpayer burden subsidising commercial concerns. This is surely wrong.

  • Comment number 6.

    access to the internet is a right, so for those cut-off by our meddling government, this would seem a perfect case for the european court of human rights

  • Comment number 7.

    It is an ill-concieved law, and fails to tackle the basic problem. Music and movies have always been over-priced and those people unwilling, or unable, to pay the costs associatted are going to find ways around the system.

    Block someones home internet and they can still use the connection at work, or wifi access from many public places, or privately from their neighbours. If those solutions become insufficient then someone will find a loophole about transferring registration of the line to their spouse's name, or installing a new line, or finding an alternate provider or in the extreme case, moving house. If all those loopholes get closed then it will be challenged in court as a breach of human rights or restriction of trade (could you work without the internet?).

    The Government need to stop coming up with stupid legislation driven by personal agendas to suit the media and special interest groups and go back to properly representing the will and interests of the People.

  • Comment number 8.

    "four simultaneous streams of HD video were arriving down a 40Mbps line"

    We could have had this over a decade ago.

    When I worked for BT nearly 20 years ago, they were in a big dispute with the regulator about allowing them to roll out fibre to the door AT BT's OWN EXPENSE, ie. with no charge to the taxpayer. The intention was to stream video and data to the home as a chargeable service. The regulator objected on the grounds that this might not allow sufficient competition in the UK, and insisted that they would only permit it if BT also offered its competitors free access to this fibre to the door for whatever purposes they desired. Unsurprising, as a company answerable to its shareholders, BT declined to invest billions in new infrastructure and then be forced to virtually give it away to its competitors to capitalise on.

    20 years later, and BT has since been split and some of those pieces have been sold to overseas companies. It is nowhere near as profitable as it once was. We have enormous competition in the broadband market, but we are still arguing about who should pay for fibre to the door (or at least to the street cabinet) infrastructure.

    Due this and previous governments' meddling, and a regulator that made decisions often simply to justify its own existence, our telecomms infrastructure is years behind its potential. It's no coincidence that despite living just south of Birmingham, fast broadband is just a dream. I have no alternative to ADSL/ADSL2, which despite being under 1km from the exchange as the crow flies can barely peak at 5MB/s at best. And yet I consider myself lucky, as people living 500m south of here are at an unbundled exchange and are limited to 1-2MB/s. The cable companies steered well clear, and Virgin still do. Lord only knows how people in the sticks manage these days on 56k dialup.

    Time to put this and the next government to put it's money where it's mouth is. Investing in infrastructure is investing in a digital economy and digital industry. And if you ask me, a much better place to shove taxpayers money than into the bank accounts of offensively over-bonused and ridiculously under-performing "investment" bankers.

    There, I feel better now. Going to go and have a lie down! Keep up the good work Rory.

  • Comment number 9.

    So why with all the other problems that this bunch of numpties have are they determined to push through a bill before they are evicted from their feathered nests. Makes you think cobber.

  • Comment number 10.

    Any law which imposes a penalty without the ability to challenge via the courts is unacceptable.

    Heck, any law which imposes a penalty without the obligation to first prove that an offence has been a) committed at all and b) committed by the person accused of it is unacceptable.

    It just goes to show how mediocre the current crop of politicians is that they have even contemplated passing such a flawed law.

  • Comment number 11.

    BT is a company still strangled by red-tape and regulation. Many people dislike BT but fail to remember that 20 years ago they were a world leader in communications.

    Thanks largely to privatisation and "competition", we may now have cheaper services, but someone still has to pay for the new cables in the ground - as it was the government that turned a £100 a second profit making, world leader into a barely able to survive comms infrastructure company, then it's only right the government should foot the bill for their broadband Britain vision. I don't see the smaller companies like Carphone Warehouse coughing up the Millions it will take, so why should BT?

    As for the anti-piracy laws, how come until now it has never required a status in law? Until now, it has been an entirely civil matter - what has changed? It certainly isn't the rate or ease of piracy. Remember the CD/VHS/Cassette clones you could buy at car-boots? How about copying tapes at home - I bet many people reading this embarked on that once or twice. What about recording from radio or TV? This kind of activity has been going on ever since recordable medium became available - and I don't know about anyone else, but I've never heard of a record label or film studio going bust due to excessive piracy. Pirates are people that wouldn't pay to watch or listen too the shoddy mass-produced material from the studios in the first place; so stop thinking of them as a loss of profit, but instead as potential new customer in the future...

  • Comment number 12.

    "Access to the internet is a basic right"

    Are you kidding me (or being sarcastic)??

    An internet connection is a luxury, not a right... If someone doesn't receive health care etc their life could be in danger, if they have no internet they have to find another way to entertain themselves... How can that EVER be considered a basic right??

    ** dismayed **

  • Comment number 13.

    BT don't like the proposed law because it means they have to take responsibility for dealing with it - disconnecting people, etc. If there was a system of fines instead, that burden would be on the authorities and the courts. This has nothing to do with rights of users or anything like that, no matter how Mr Livingston presents it.

    A far better system for consumers would be an annual licence fee that allowed them to file-share. That would generate lots of money for the creative industries, and provide consumers with the choice and flexibility of content that can never be offered through any other channel. The best thing about file-sharing isn't to get content "for free", but to get content that isn't available otherwise from the clinical, selective offerings from the commercial sector (unsigned artists, foreign TV shows - content you simply can't buy legally however much you might want to).

  • Comment number 14.

    Because a particular basic utility service or item is used to commit a crime, its removal should not be the punishment. As far as I know no-one has yet said that people who use the phone to con people out of large amounts of money should be banned from having a phone account OR people who travel to a robbery in a car should be banned from owning a car. These are the basic items of being able to live. The punishment for copyright breach in all other media is pretty well defined so why, because it is committed using the internet, is this publicity seeking to ban the person from communicating.

    This is unworkable and the way that the other parties have not challenged it reflects the publicity seeking weakness of our current generation of law makers.

    Time to rethink this. Thank goodness for the leadership being shown by Ian Livingstone.

  • Comment number 15.

    At least this gets a public airing and allows some discussions outside of the pure 'Government' arena unlike the secret ACTA - Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement negotiations of which the UK government is also a particpant that also try to tackle online piracy but have been conducted in such secrecy that it has not yet been widely reported see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement

  • Comment number 16.

    Virgin closed down most of the modem racks when I worked at telewest/blueyonder during the infancy of HSI. I do feel sorry for people out in the styx as its put, but it has always been about the money. when xbox live first appeared we offered customers a dedicated ip addy for the xbox alongside the standard house ip. We how ever were not allowed to offer router or tunneling sodtware advice that would have run the live service over the current ip.

    Milking the customer is what it is all about..

    SCEE when i worked for them way back in 1997 expected 70% piracy with the PS1 and this was figured into the price of games.

    Dont be fooled into thinking the companys dont already proffit well from piracy, infact some things only gain sucsess throught it.

    Piracy is also responcable a rapid development of hardware and software, you only have to look at nintendo and the DS and WII both are easy to softmod and withing a few hours you can have a 100+ games running of a HDD connected to the WII. 100 games = about £4.500 if my maths aint to wrong.

    Nintendo have relesed a HDD addon for the WII now. So should Nintendo pay the pirates for developing the product and refining it into a better consumer experiance. No scratched or damaged disks, no shelf space taken up in the room entire game collections stored on HDD's.

    Cant wait for the softmod for the PS3 only weeks away from relese. No HHD limits. terabit usb drive pluged in emulated retro games any music file type any video file type no restrictions....

    You cant make law against this progression...

  • Comment number 17.

    This is all stupid. I wonder if any of these government people realise how easy it is for these "criminals" to simply use some proxies to hide their identity online, or even hack someone else's WiFi network for the purpose of "illegal" filesharing.

    Also, not all of this "illegal" downloading is done over filesharing networks. Increasingly, people are using file upload sites, or even YouTube, to get their hands on films, TV shows, and music. In fact, in terms of TV shows, many are online officially anyway.

    But, for people who want to get the latest Hollywood flick online for free, it's easy to get it off of a file upload site with very little chance of ever being traced. Doing that over a VPN network would make it extremely hard for anyone to know who they are.

    For people who want to get music, it's very easy to just lift the file off of YouTube - again, with the odds of ever being traced being very small, and made smaller with VPN or proxies.

    The Digital Economy Bill, in its current form, would only surve to increase these pracices. In fact, the online industry of anonymity services is growing as a result of measures such as those proposed in the Bill, so some may simply use such services in conjunction with the filesharing networks they currently use without a problem.

    There is also something even worse to consider, however. They will try and trace people using their IPs, but as anyone with decent knowledge of how the internet works will tell you, an IP address is not definate evidence and it cannot be used as such in court either. So, using it anyway is utterly stupid, as it will only result in innocent people getting blamed for the downloading taken place, as has already happened to a few Virgin Media customers.

    To anyone really concerned about the future of "Digital Britain", I recommend you take a look at the Pirate Party UK.

  • Comment number 18.

    The legislation is a hysterical response to a non-issue. With the current laws, the internet functions perfenctly well and copyright holders have avenues to take action against major infringers.

    In spite of the shrill calls, films and music are still being produced (and in significant quantities), so I see no justification for moving to anything any more draconian than the status quo.

  • Comment number 19.

    indeed Macbookpro the TOR network is great for disapearing online.
    http://www.torproject.org/

  • Comment number 20.

    If the Government is required to fund the network upgrades to enable next generation access for the 'masses' then the Government should consider taking part or overall responsibility for the network - as a joint funded or separate Government entity, potentially assuming full or partial responsibility for Openreach with BT. BT would then buy services from this new 'infrastructure' entity on truly equal terms to the competition. It would be survival of the fittest, those providing an exceptional customer service, great customer offers and propositions would win, and true competition would drive world class innovation in the UK. Maybe this is a premonition moment.

  • Comment number 21.

    ...And one more thing: the entertainment industry - both the film and music industries - are GROWING every year, despite all their nonsense about how piracy is killing them. Wasen't home taping supposed to do that, anyway? And did it? Well, iTunes still seems to exist, so I'd say that's a big no.

  • Comment number 22.

    This bill is basically using private companies as a combined, police force, CPS, judge, jury and executioner.

    It is a very, very bad step.



    Of course media companies are pleased with the bill, but then they'd be pleased with the bill if it proposed that people could be accused of illegal file sharing and have to forfeit everything they own and their first born child to the media companies with no recourse or evidence needed (as their suing of children clearly shows).

    Law and Justice should be about just that, not what big companies want and how much money they can spend to grease the political wheels to get it.

  • Comment number 23.

    We havn't even touched pay as you go mobile disposable HSI how the hell is that to be regulated by such law. our local cheapo products discount sort of shop sells these for £7.50 10 gig limit.. average avi 716 mb thats 10 movies with error correction then.. buy a new usb dongle.
    £7.50 = 10 movies in hands of pirate = say £3 a copy * 10 films * 500 copys of each= £15.000.

    So it seems there will still be a HUGE hole in the system.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think it's not much of a surprise that the leading internet service providers are opposed to cutting off 'illegal' file-sharers. It is quite likely that persistent file sharers also have premium service packages, or at least above average packages. Who would allow anyone to mes with their cash cows?

    To be fair to the ISPs, they're simply caught up in a fight between the creative industry and file-sharers, who happen to be using their network.

    On funding faster broadband, some people (4 out of 5 according to a recent survey), think that broadband should be a basic right. Perhaps there should be another survey about TV, then we can compare the result and have it as a basis for a rethink on TV licensing. I am for public funding for FTTX technology, but I disagree with an extra tax on people. We already pay way too much for the TV license, much of which is used on overpaid presenters.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree that something should be done about downloading illegal music, as my band have fallen victim to it the moment we got a song on i-tunes, it was all over the file sharing sites in a matter of days.

    I do wonder though, what is going to stop you just signing up with a different ISP if your connection does get cut? I'm sure theirs plenty of service providers who would love your money after you've been kicked off their rivals network. Or are they planning on cutting your phone line? Either way getting back online after your disconnected would probably take a day max. Cutting peoples connections is the wrong way of going about this, fines are a more sensible option, and would deter people more than just the agro of finding a new ISP.

  • Comment number 27.

    Oh yes a truly wonderful BT Broadband package, NOT!! I have a BT line that can barely achieve 0.25mps, oh I'm not living in some isolated cottage or an island just 6.8km from the nearest exchange! Return BT back to a nationlised industry with no compensation to its shareholders, they have made enough money as it is!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Should illegal file-sharers be banned from the net

    and how would this impossibility ever come about? Take away someone's broadband they can use dial up, take that they can buy a 3G card, take that away they can hack into a neighbours wireless, take that away they can go to an internet cafe and so on.

    As for the companies that are suffering because of piracy, well they've been dying since the introduction of the cassette tape but they still seem to be with us.

  • Comment number 29.

    BT appear to have changed their tune on copyright since the days when Ms Emma Sanderson, Director, Value Added Services at BT, stated to me, in July 2008, that "Anyone who puts a webpage on the internet does so for the purpose of people making copies of it for the purpose of looking at it and assessing the information contained in it." as the justification for BT taking copies of websites for commercial advantage, as part of their not yet abandoned Webwise project, and not paying royalties for doing so. Indeed she maintained that they were not required to pay such royalties. "Accordingly I am afraid no royalties or other payments are due to website owners - aside from those that want to participate in the OIX of course (www.phorm.com)."
    If we are going to chase anyone for copyright infringement perhaps we should start with those who copy web pages for commercial advantage but refuse to pay royalties for so doing?

  • Comment number 30.

    What about the poor consumers in all this? There are politians, ISPs and rigts holders all getting their airtime, what about us poor sods who pay for all this?

    The problem is that the music/film industries don't want to change their business models for any reason. Just look at price of MP3s 79p each on a 8 track CD thats £6.32 or buy the CD for 4.99!

    Why do people buy knock off hand bags? because the price of the real ones are way to high. The best way to counter piracy is to reduce the price.

  • Comment number 31.

    Anyone remember the famous campaign "Home Taping Is Killing Music"?

    That was 30+ years ago, so we should know the outcome by now.

    Did it?

  • Comment number 32.

    The law is badly thought out in many ways:
    - it is quite easy to circumvent via proxies etc
    - the actual perpetrator of any copying is nearly impossible to detect
    - there doesn't seem to be any requirement for legal proof of a crime being committed.
    - what about public wifi sites?
    - what about mobile internet?
    - it could hurt businesses through no fault of their own.
    - it won't do anything to stop people recording from radio or CDs borrowed from a library or friend.

    Instead, music/film companies should look at their own out-dated business models and adjust them appropriately. Of the ~79p of a digital download, how much goes to the performers/composers and how much to the record companies/distributors? Why does it often cost more to download a CD's worth of tracks than to buy the CD and rip it yourself?

    Any law like this will just slow down innovation in the area.

  • Comment number 33.

    @dale199 - Take a look at the basic human rights listed by the ECHR and the Human Rights Act. They include a lot of rights other than the right to life such as rights to privacy, trials, non-discrimination and - of course - freedom of expression, thought and assembly.

    Presumably you believe we should do away with all human rights except the right to life?

    What the media industries are trying to do is take away our right to a fair trial, and to restrict our freedom of expression, based on unfounded allegations.

    The internet as a communication medium is increasingly used in this day and age. I now get a lot of my bills and bank statements electronically. I get all my news online. I shop, pay tax, register to vote, and access my work online. The government, mainly through direct.gov, is pushing people to use online services for everything from petitioning to returning tax forms. And you think it's fine to cut people off from this?

    Up next: if you're *accused* of a crime whilst wearing glasses expect to be banned from using sight correction technology. After all they are a luxury and you can always walk closer/further away from the object you're looking at.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    #12 “An internet connection is a luxury, not a right... If someone doesn't receive health care etc their life could be in danger, if they have no internet they have to find another way to entertain themselves... How can that EVER be considered a basic right??”

    Um. For many people the internet is not just entertainment. It is how they communicate with their family, their bank, pay their bills, do their food shopping... especially if they are in a rural area.

    Incidentally, it is now legislation that small company accounts/tax have to be filed online only. I'd be interested in the legality of taking away a facility because of one person (eg connection hijacker) that actually causes someone else (the connection payer) to be unable to fulfil their own legal requirement.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have fileshared to find music etc that interests me and then bought cd,s and paid to go to concerts. I have also introduced friends to some of the music I have found who have also then bought cd's etc.
    File sharing is a good way of spreading the word, getting people introduced to something they may otherwise would not listen to or pay for.

    I agree that something need to be done with large scale pirating operations and people who make a living out of this off the back of musicians and film makers, but I think if the authorities go after the small scale downloader, then the people this is supposed to protect could in the end loose out!

    I do not have the radio on all day, listening to some DJ's telling me what I should be listening too!
    I do not have the TV on all day to have adverts telling me what I should be watching.
    I prefer to "discover" for myself, and then pay for what I want.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 3. Limey wrote:
    "Mandelson is behind the bill (and no doubt this comment will be deleted because his evil influence strikes fear in all who dare challenge the Prince Of Darkness)."

    My Reply:
    Actually the US is behind this.
    Mandelson is continuing the sanctions agreed in secret by the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement IIRC) and the EC.

    ACTA is a US body that was originally set up to prevent items like fake Rolex's from becoming widespread. But America has this obsession with allowing big corporations to dictate US (and, by extension, international) law. Thus draconian media industries and their DMCA pals are twisting copyright laws to their own capitalist gain - be it bullying innocent consumers for extra money or claming down heavily on offenders.

    It's been widely published that if you're caught file sharing, the DMCA will make an example of you. Please bare in mind that while I don't endorse file sharing, it is not a criminal offence (ie you will not get a criminal record). It is illegal and immoral but it's not stealing (the original property still remains in the copyright holders studio). Yet in spite of this people are often punished more heavily than criminals - criminals being people who have committed GBH, rape and so on. Even murder, in some fringe cases, has carried a lighter sentence than file sharing where the DMCA has been the prosecutor.

    And this is the problem, according to the DMCA, you are guilty until proven innocent.
    You have to watch 10mins of "piracy funds terrorism" BS on legitimately owned DVDs. You have DRM so YOUR legally purchased DVDs has to play on authorised DRM enabled hardware (which has left many people having to upgrade perfectly working hardware just because the media giants assume people will naturally run off dozens of copies for their mates).

    And what's more absurd is the people who ARE pirates DON'T fund terrorism (they download), DON'T watch the anti-piracy BS (why would DIVX downloads include it?) and CAN watch their movies on any hardware they choose. And people who do copy games, DVDs and CDs are smart enough to work around the DRM. So the only people who are getting hurt are the innocent customers who are assumed guilty by default.

    The whole thing has spun so wildly out of control (partly due to rapid technological advances and partly due to greed) that the whole system is now completely broken.
    There is so much money to be made as more so than ever we live in a media-rich society. However instead of promoting new technology, the DMCA and their overseas counterparts are enforcing their draconian 20th century businesses practices by legislation rather than innovation.


    So the laws DO need changing. However the need changing in favour of the consumer:
    * At the moment it is still illegal to copy your favourite CD or LP to MP3. The media industries want you to purchase your tracks rather than transfer from one medium to another. So the laws need changing there.

    * File sharers shares should be accountable - however they should have penalties equivalent to their crime and not equivalent to what the DMCA believes if most profitable.

    * There should be a "fair use" to copyright. Thus people who upload home videos with their favourite pop track as backing music shouldn't get penalised. People who have rock songs copied from CD as their ring tone shouldn't be penalised (the DMCA was actually trying to sue people over this!) and police stations that have a radio on quietly in the reception shouldn't get sued for lack of a performing rights license.



    I'm all for protecting an artists intellectual property - but we can't lose sight that reality either (so don't even get me stated on the US's patent system and how it's costing the IT industry billions each year).


    </rant>

  • Comment number 38.

    Laumars. And people who do copy games, DVDs and CDs are smart enough to work around the DRM.

    To godamn right Im so glad I downloaded silent hunter 5 and tried it before I bought it. Would have been a waste of money on my part and once opened I would not have the right to return the product as unsutable. As to play the game you have to register the CD key online rendering the copy unsaleable to another member of the pulic. The other reason why pirate games especialy PC games are so popular is will it work on my hardware. All these ANTI piracy efforts mearly restrict my consumer rights.

  • Comment number 39.

    Question for you.
    Are you legally bound to secure your home WiFi connection against others using it?
    If not, why cant you claim that 'It wasn't me' if your connection gets turned off?

    Not that I personally download illegal content, I just dont have a problem with others doing it.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hmm home WIFI

    anyone that has it unsecure should be made to go to a wired connection for their own safety.

    Its sort of like leaving your car running and unlocked doors open parked a street away and expect it not to get stolen.
    Or going on holiday for a month with all your doors and windows left open..

    But whos responablity is it to secure a wireless router? the ISP who in most cases provides this now as part of the multi computer experiance or the Home not quite so sure how it works user?

    What happenes when a cloud is used for illegal downloads...

    Should proxy cache's be banned as they duplicate files video and web pages for faster access from None local servers.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 39. Elm1o wrote:
    Are you legally bound to secure your home WiFi connection against others using it?
    If not, why cant you claim that 'It wasn't me' if your connection gets turned off?

    Not that I personally download illegal content, I just dont have a problem with others doing it.


    My reply:

    This is a legal grey area. As far as I'm aware you are not legally bound to secure your home WiFi BUT you can still liable if you don't as you were negligent in not securing your wireless.

    I also wouldn't recommend you leave your WiFi open anyway as you open yourself up to malicious attack as snoopers are bypassing your routers firewall. So it's a very dangerous practice unless you really know what you are doing!


    Going back to your original point though, WiFi is hackable. So even with a WPA2 secured wireless connection (ie the highest consumer-level wireless security), it still only takes some automated packet injection attacks from free Linux WiFi tools and you've got yourself access.

    This issue about the ease of hacking and how it can go unnoticed, is untraceable and offers the hacker complete internet anonymity to perform any level of illegal activity (from file sharing to child porn) has been raised. I believe the BBC even ran an article about how innocent home users are potentially at risk and how it's almost impossible to prove innocence.

  • Comment number 42.

    To near the bone?.........

    The "Media Rights Consortium" (for want of a better description) moved with the times.

    From 45 rpm Records, to Cassette Tapes to CD's when they started to get cranky & added some protection software to "protect themselves against their own Customers"?

    They then increased this protection (encryption) on DVD's at the expense of some computing power & increased costs for electronics Industry followed by a massive drive to totally encrypt everything on HDVD's etc at a great cost to the Computing Industry & resultant customers, this failed, so once again they "blamed their Customers"?

    They are now steadfastly refusing to follow the rest of the Creative Industries & invest in their "Own forms of online sales" & technologies & actively trying to retard the growth (& security) of the Communications, Creative & other Industries.

    Now who is to BLAME!

    The Artists are the driving force for all Creative Industries not just the "Media Rights Consortiums Property" retarding Creativity is self defeating not just for "them" but the whole Commercial Sector!

  • Comment number 43.

    20. At 12:09pm on 10 Mar 2010, Kevin Sparks wrote:

    If the Government is required to fund the network upgrades to enable next generation access for the 'masses' then the Government should consider taking part or overall responsibility for the network - as a joint funded or separate Government entity, potentially assuming full or partial responsibility for Openreach with BT. BT would then buy services from this new 'infrastructure' entity on truly equal terms to the competition. It would be survival of the fittest, those providing an exceptional customer service, great customer offers and propositions would win, and true competition would drive world class innovation in the UK. Maybe this is a premonition moment.

    BT is already broken up into 2 halves - Openreach with the infrastructure, phone engineers etc and Retail that sells service to end users/companies. Much like British Gas Retail and Centrica (Infrastructure) some years back

    Openreach must already treat BT Retail in exactly the same way as competitor companies - so BT Retail does not gain an unfair commercial advantage. Part of a deal 'undertakings' struck a few years back to stop BT being broken up. There are 'chinese walls' between Openreach and BT Retail, and extensive monitoring and mandatory training/compliancy courses staff must do on a yearly basis.

  • Comment number 44.

    Check out this report http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100310/0425238499.shtml
    Looks like the EU is going to stomp all over this bill
    "MEPs will go to the Court of Justice if the EU does not reject ACTA rules, including cutting off users from the Internet "gradually" if caught stealing content.
    Some Members of Parliament are also pointing out that the EU negotiators are violating the Lisbon Treaty, which says that EU Parliament Members should have "full and immediate access at all stages of international negotiations."

    This is pretty big -- and a massive setback for ACTA supporters. The MEPs didn't just reject the lack of transparency, they were blatantly rejecting some of the proposals that were in the leaked documents."

    OK, that's ACTA effectively finished but the point is that the offending bits of ACTA are the offending bits of the DEB, so....

  • Comment number 45.

    I'll approach my response from both sides - both for and against P2P (the primary source of illegal file sharing).

    First, against.

    I would say that P2P is causing more problems and it's the main reason why we have all these issues and legislation.

    P2P helps to clog up the entire internet. Without P2P, files are hosted on major servers spread around the world, servers which can be structued properly with the right investment (or cached on ISP servers), with only the files you want sent down the pipe. Downstream data has the priority over upstream (which is exactly how ADSL works) and websites are far easier to take down and sue for copyright infringement.

    Unfortunately, we have P2P, where files are stored on everyone's individual computers. This puts a huge strain on the internet network since the traffic from P2P goes both ways, it clogs up both upstream and downstream. The majority of P2P is illegal file sharing, and ISPs have estimated that most capacity problems are caused by P2P. Many people leave their P2P client running all the time, constantly sending and receiving mostly illegal content.

    Having said that, what the creative industries don't seem to understand is why people use P2P. Yes, it means access to free content over paid content, but that's just a red herring. Where is this paid content? Is it online in the form of downloads? In the case of video, no, sadly, it isn't.

    First, we had the debacle of DRM which actually convinced a lot of people (myself included) that piracy was better than paying, since if I bought a track with DRM attached, I was very limited as to what I could do with it, even to the extent of whether I could transfer it to my own portable music player! Then there was the worry of lost licenses, and updating your computer. Do that too many times and your DRM breaks.

    Yet at the time, the creative industries wrongly thought that DRM was the answer to all their problems. But in reality, it turned out that it was the cause of many people avoiding paid downloads, and instead they were taking the only viable alternative to get access to their media - piracy, usually in the form of P2P.

    Eventually, the music industry woke up and removed DRM and that ridiculously draconian technology is now history. Sadly, the video industry is largely making the same mistakes, attaching DRM to their downloads which tempts people to ditch legitimate means and go down the piracy route once again.

    But with video it's different. Because there's so little of it about from legal sources. Where do people go when they want to watch movie clips and old TV episodes and music videos? Youtube of course!

    Who owns Youtube? Google! Where is the legitimate alternative? There isn't one! Sure, there are a few video streaming sites here and there but it's all laid out like the music industry was at the beginning of the Internet. A few files here, a few files there, nothing structured, no standard way accessing media, every website hosting bits of video requiring unique registration, it's all the same problems all over again. DRM on top of all that is just too much.

    So once again, as with the music industry, the video industry needs to wake up to the Internet and start giving consumers what we want. That is, large centralised hubs with access to almost anything that you can either watch for free in low quality (through streaming with advertising) or pay for high quality DRM-free downloads. This will really turn people on to the idea of paying for content, and that's what the video industry needs to do. The process needs to be sexy, it needs to be wanted, you can't just put a handful of videos online, slap DRM on them all then blame people for switching to piracy.

    Let's have an example. I want to watch the movie Kong, and I want to watch it right now. I have the power of the Internet at my disposal, so it should be available somewhere. But where?

    I can try and find it legally, but all I'll find is bits of trailers here and there and lots of talk about it, and links to shops where I can purchase it on a DVD. No, no, I don't want a DVD, I don't want packaging, I don't want to wait 2-3 days for it to arrive, I just want the movie right now, give it to me!

    I check on Youtube, parts of the video are there and they're available right now without DRM. It's low quality but I accept that since it's free. But what if I want to watch the whole movie?

    Now, Kong may be available for digital download somewhere, I really don't know because there's no central location for downloads, as there is for music, and I don't trust the legitimate download locations (even if any exist) because they're bound to include long and tedious registration processes and when I eventually get the file it'll be riddled with DRM. So after I've upgraded my computer a few times I won't even be able to play what I've bought!

    It seems that the only avenue open to me is the illegal route, in the form of P2P. If I use a P2P client, I just type in the name, and start downloading! It couldn't be easier. This is what the video industry needs to get its head around, this is how easy they need to make it. The video industry either needs to start competing with Google for viewing time, or else they need to join Google. Just ignoring most of the world because they choose to use the Internet for their viewing pleasures, all they're doing by that is cutting off (what could be) a primary source of income, and all because they're frightened to death of breaking their traditional business model.

  • Comment number 46.

    One thing that is very often never mentioned is that the availability of some music genres are simply not available in the UK shops. Next thing is a lot of music around is only available in MP3 format. Last, if I find something on Amazon as an MP3 to download I then hit a message "this download is not available in your country" - here in the UK. This leaves us with no other options.
    When I finally find another web site where I can find the song, how am I supposed to know that web site is legitimate?
    What's your answer to all that, Mr. Mandelson?

  • Comment number 47.

    I really feel for BT and the ISPs. They are caught in the middle of a firefight between the creative industries and consumers. A firefight that need never have happened. The creative industries are fighting a futile and pointless war against one very simple - and insurmountable - truth: "If you can play it, you can copy it."

    That's always been true from the days when people pointed a microphone at radio speakers to record "pick of the pops", through to today when people point a hi-def digital camera at a cinema screen and record a movie. It's true that digital techniques make the copy obtained rather better than any of the older methods, but the principle is the same. If you can play it, you can copy it: and there's no point in music, movies and TV content that you can't play, right?

    Pretending that DRM was the answer did a lot of damage and sent the industry down a bad road. As has been pointed out above, the hypocrisy, double-think and myopia of the entertainment industry is breathtaking. A couple of examples:

    The music industry is happy with allowing time shifted music radio shows to be downloaded at very good quality, but stamps on people offering comparatively low quality downloads of the same tracks. You can use tools like RadioDownloader and many others to legally and automatically download shows from pretty much any music network. You end up with an unprotected MP3 file to keep forever, containing very good quality copies of hundreds of music tracks. No laws broken, BBC and music companies happy. Try downloading a 64Kbit poor quality version of some of those same tracks from Pirate Bay (or its successors) and you've stepped over the line into minor criminality.

    Another example: Movies and TV shows are released on DVD, but made available online either for a very short time, or never. Everyone knows that you can use a DVD ripper to get a pristine copy of the contents of any rented DVD within 10 minutes (Google DVD Ripper and you get 9.5 million results! Now, that hardly indicates that it's a secret does it?). The content owners know all this of course, but they carry on pretending that they have something to protect - and fail to move to a formal online distribution model on anything like the scale that they should.

    The thing that has changed from the olden days is this. People only want a packaged product for content that's in their personal top ten (movies, songs, albums). For everything else, most people no longer care about holding that record, CD, tape, DVD in their hand. They want access to the content, they want to play it where they want, when they want. Buying a formally packaged product containing the content is less and less important - having it as a file on a hard disc is fine.

    That's the new distribution model that the media industry needs to wholeheartedly embrace. Its energies would be a lot better expended on that, than on suing anything that moves and pretending that it's possible to go back to pre-1995. The music companies have already been enfeebled because they tried to stay in the old world, artists reach out directly to consumers via the Internet with no need of a "deal" with a formal music company. The major movie distribution houses risk the same decline if they follow suit.

    Louis Barfe's book "Where Have all the good times gone" is a highly recommended read for anyone wanting detail on all this, as related to music industry.

    Alan T

  • Comment number 48.

    Going through the comments above, it seems like the collective wisdom of this blog's readers is actually very productive. (For a BBC blog, I'm shocked :))

    Dividing the file-sharing issue into different types of media;

    Music - Consumers at the moment have a few choices; streaming, iTunes, conventional discs. All of these have disadvantages compared to illegal download; streaming is bandwidth-hungry, requires connection to play, and may not have control over songs played. iTunes uses (I think they still do) DRM-style control to prevent iTunes tracks being played on non-Apple devices. Conventional discs require 2-3 days delivery, or going to a shop. If, for instance, iTunes were to remove it's draconian restrictions (and adapt to new pricing) then this should dent the download "market."

    Video - The main problem here is availability, along with the outdated and ludicrous gap between screening in different countries. If a show comes out in the US 3 months before it comes out in the UK, what do these companies expect? Just because we aren't in America, does not make it right to treat us as second-class. Increased availability + simultaneous global release = lower piracy levels. (Oh, I'm sorry, you can't exploit Europe just to get a second bounce in sales any more, video companies. Start taking a global view.)

    Games - I only really know about PC games. I'll freely admit I've downloaded entire copies of games in the past, to try them out. Why? Because demos of games offered now require just as much time to download as full versions, contain too little content to get a feel for the game, and are frequently bug-ridden (as are games themselves, on release day). As such, I download to see if the game is a) working, b) good, and c) will run on my PC.

    The simple fact regarding PC games, though, is that you lose out significantly by using an illegal copy, for most games. As such, I have significant incentive to purchase the product, in order to get a 100% functioning copy. But, I'm not spending £40 for the "chance" of playing a game (i.e. the chance of it being good, working, runs on my PC).

  • Comment number 49.

    I am tired of BT wanting state subsidy, when the copper local loop and the Exchange network probably mostly date back to the days of state ownership. In addition, it wants access to the ducts of competitors, who used their own money/debt to roll out their network. BT are rolling out 40Mb/s, whereas other companies will offer 200Mb/s
    Perhaps the Government should offer a franchise deal to roll out FTTC or FTTH.

  • Comment number 50.

    I'm disappointed you didn't ask him to explain the Police/CPS enquiry currently in progress (now over 500 days).

    Also disappointed you didn't ask him to account for his decisions with respect to covert trials of Phorm, and the secret surveillance of UK internet users and the web sites they visited.

    You could have challenged him to elaborate his support for fines for copyright infringement. I understand he's very familiar with the topic. I would have been interested to hear more about BT's support for the rights of online content creators.

    The reluctance of BBC journalists to confront Ian Livingston over the past 2 years has been simply appalling. These as yet unresolved issues have got to be addressed.

  • Comment number 51.

    I have been using the net since roughly 1995 from 14k modem,56k modem and then on to cable in 1999 and I also work in the new media industry. If there was one thing you could point your finger at, as to why our network is not actually fit for purpose and that rural communities have next to nothing in a net connection, it is BT.
    In the early days BT made it downright hard for anyone wanting to set up any sort of net access business and constant issues of downtime plagued the businesses that were around at the time. This in some cases affected the businesses who with some eventually going out of business or being sold to bigger companies.
    But BT has been the major stumbling block for many years and neglecting or refusing to accept what the country needed. BT used to praise the fact at one time that they had a good idea of the future, when it came to the internet. What utter rubbish.
    The answer is quite simple, "where there's a will there's a way".
    Now I hear Virgin are testing overhead fibre, and I say "Good for them". The sooner we get rural communities involved and connected, we should see a new explosion in this country of business's setting up everywhere. And that's good for the country and the technology as a whole.

  • Comment number 52.

    There is another, probably too obvious way, to reduce the costs for rolling out fibre to many more homes in UK.

    Share both the existing fibre network and costs with other suppliers (i.e. Virgin).

    It has already been done the other way around many years ago when BT was requested to share it's copper network, so why not the same compelling reasons for fibre?

    It is also done in similar fashion for the National Grid electricity network, and Gas.

    That is what the current or next Government should be proposing as the solution, and in doing so would save much of our tax money at the same time!

  • Comment number 53.

    anyone but anyone who has worked for BT will know and tell you that the execs in charge dont have a scooby doo clue.... The 21cn network is dead and redundant before it even got started... They awarded a % of the contract to Huawei a chinese company that reports to the chinese government...Yes thats right our network is now run by the chinese. Aparently BT and the government dont deem this as a potential breach to our countries defence until the chinese decide to turn the lights out.. Give BT tax payers money? haha why not

  • Comment number 54.

    Why does everyone think that Mr Mandelson and other Government "advisors" actually know what they are talking about on this subject. They never seem to consult with people that are in the industry. They just seem to make half thought out laws which will just not work.

    I have offered my services (for free) to help advise, but I guess that someone with only 20 years in the industry might talk some sense.

    In my opinion Mandy and his cronies and a complete waste of space.

  • Comment number 55.

    Here is a current example of the system where I live.

    1. I want to run catch-up TV and find the following show where the system falls down:
    a) BBC iPlayer allows me to download a programme to view or stream. Broadband not up to streaming so download and watch later (no problem except for Heroes as I have found which is stream only thus they have lost me from the viewing figures).
    b) ITV player can only stream in packets (with adverts) but the network is not up to it from my connection. Therefore I cannot add to the ITV viewing figures because my 1.6MBPS broadband is not up to it for some reason.

    So if I want to catch-up on something from the last week then BBC is the only catch up service I can use.

    Then if it is older than 7 days then I cannot watch it (I may go on holiday for more thsn a fortnight and cannot change channels on my Freeview box to record on my Video - sorry do not fancy upgrading to a DVR yet).

    OR I search for P2P sites to download the required programme to watch it. Then US dramas that can be downloaded/streamed in that country but cannot in the UK (even when it becomes a UK broadcast programme).

    2. I like older, popular and unpopular bands that have no chance of being part of the iTunes download selections. Now, I can search on the off chance I can get the 20 year old vinyl/CD (or copy the tracks from a P2P site to listen to until the CD can be found, if at all).

    I would quite happily pay the band directly, via their website for these 15-50 year old tracks for a moderate fee (half the i-tunes price and without the DRM restrictions) if they went down that route.business model.

    What I hate is the forced "high" price of CD's in the shops as well (e.g. Back in Black by ACDC has only reduced in price to £6 ish over the past two years but it is now a 30 year old recording. other examples are Guns & Roses, Beatles, Nirvana, Metallica,Pink Floyd, etc).

    If it is not run of the mill, high turnover karaoke for the gullible teenagers then most record shops (including supermarkets) do not want to stock it and ordering is a nightmare. Then because it is not a chart CD at circa £10 then they want you to pay aroung £20 for it.

    Yes I can remember the time when "HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC" was so prominent on the album liners (I still possess those LPs) and some radio shows championed "non-chart" music. If I liked the music then I could search it out in the record shops. Some used to tape tracks off the Sunday Network Chart Show to listen to in their bedrooms. I remember the discrepancy between the price of the LP and CD and now CD's have become 50% dearer on average than they were in the 80's and 90's.

    So - the Digital bill and current internet/broadband system just appears to be a lump hammer to the requirements of record/TV company money grabbing and cabled/fibred cities. Closing the stable door now is too late and I hope artists like Pink Floyd, for all the right reasons, would allow their back catalogue to be downloaded (for say £5 per album) and I would willingly sign up to download the best possible copy of their music whilst recognising their effort in the creative process of writing these tunes.

    The system broke IMHO when Napster were ousted without any commercial replacement. iTunes is very restrictive in its scope and costs are above the spending limits of most people. The government will push the bill through and it will be such a "kludge" that it will either swamp the legal system or be ignored because of the police paperwork mountain.

    Diggers

  • Comment number 56.

    Just like a decade ago, we have the cable companies pushing ahead with services that are an order of magnitude faster than what can be provided by telephone line, and we have BT going cap in hand to various sources of public funding to help them do the same thing. The rural population cry that they deserve the same speeds as those in the centre of London and BT say they have a case on social inclusion grounds.

    Only this time, things are slightly different: 1) The public money has run out and 2) there is a credible alternative to BT in these areas that wasn't ready last time.


    For everyone who thinks that society should provide their broadband connection, consider this: My grandfather had to bring electricity to his farm in the late '30s. The cost to install it in the street was over £1,000 (more than £50,000 in today's money). He asked the neighbours to chip in and they wouldn't. There were no subsidies available. He had a real requirement for it, so he paid. Guess what happened when the poles were put up outside the neighbours' houses? The point is that new technology and services are expensive, but those with a genuine need will pave the way for others to benefit from the economies of scale.


    Fast forward to the 21st century and the situation with fast broadband. There is clearly sufficient demand across the country for such high speed services, but the truth is that as you try to bring them to more of the population, the cost increases exponentially. BT have said that they can bring fibre to 40% of the population for £1.5bn, yet as was pointed out up the thread, to fibre the entire country would cost some £30bn. At some point in the roll out, it is cheaper to provide the service with another technology or technologies.

    The problem is that although the demand is present, as you get to areas of lower population density, those requiring high speed broadband are spread further and further apart. What is needed is a away to aggregate this dispersed demand in a way to make them economic to serve than very long fibre runs.

    Just as satellite brought multi-channel TV to those outside of the range of cable in the late '80s, so it can bring high-speed internet to those people who cannot economically be served through terrestrial means. When Sky launched, they had 6 low resolution analogue channels received through a large dish and the equipment was several hundred pounds. Now there are hundreds of channels, more and more in HD with surround sound and soon also 3D, all received through a minidish (which could potentially be small still, soon).

    Satellite broadband is the same. It's first incarnation was slow - supplied by borrowing expensive and unsuitable space on TV broadcast satellites, it had to cram a lot of users onto very little capacity in order to just break even. Now all that has changed, with the overwhelming success of the first dedicated broadband satellites in the US and Canada, we are about to see a big leap forward in the quality and speed of such services both there and in Europe. Those with a real need have paid the higher initial prices and allowed the industry to develop a second generation of satellites that can bring such services to the masses.

    Read and watch the following about developments in North America and then decide whether your taxes should be spent on an unaffordable terrestrial roll out of fibre to every nook and cranny of the country, or whether the market should be left to build and launch a satellite alternative at a much lower cost: http://www.viasat.com/broadband-satellite-networks/viasat-1

  • Comment number 57.

    Clearly the government are in a hurry to lose the next election, as this new bill will only distance them further from the other parties. If there was a sign that this government are clearly 'off the pulse' of the people in this country then this is another example.

    For years the music industry has been ripping off the people for cd sales etc, and the evolution of the internet is bringing about their downfall. What they should be doing is adapting to the situation like every other industry has to. Just remember that the record labels choose the artists, and if they don't make enough sales blame the downloads. The internet has become a way of breaking and making careers and If artists are popular online, then surely a way would be to tap into that market by signing up the artists in this way.

    All the bill will do is increase the amount of people creating anonymity software to hide ip addresses, and an increase in encryption software. it will become the equivalent to the digital black market and will not solve the problem one little bit! Where there is a will there is a way. fines will not solve the problem either, it is fundamentally flawed from the ground up. How can you impose these kind of sanctions on people, when it could be there 12 year old child downloading stuff.

    If anything it should be the people seeding (putting the stuff on) who should be getting into some sort of trouble not the downloader. If the content wasn't there in the first place you woudln't be able to download it. Similarly, half the music out there is to be frank 'awful' and half the artists who complain they aren't making any money from it, are truly awful as well, hence they arent selling enough records! Surely if you are good at what you do, you become popular and by default make money. This is no different than any other business! Why should music/film industry industry be any different. If i'd watched a downloaded film and it was good I would actually go to the cinema to watch it for the cinematic experience. The internet is a catalyst for future artists careers, and should be embraced. If a band becomes popular they will get ticket sales from gigs for a start,. They simply need to adapt to the situation like every other business in times of difficulty and stop sulking!



  • Comment number 58.

    @Dale199 - The internet was not originally created for entertainment or as a commercial platform. It's roots lie in the noble idea of spreading knowledge and I think this is still its greatest point. Access to information should be a basic human right and is surely the cornerstone to any free democracy. Legislation that allows a government/private sector to control content on the internet and/or access thereof will inevitably compromise this great resource.

    If it comes down to choosing between open access to information and a profitable industry I know which side I'll be on.

  • Comment number 59.

    @chunkylimey - "If we instead spent taxpayers money on free wi-fi in the cities"

    Why in the cities ??? - they've already got the options of super-fast internet via fibre to the home (Virgin), fast internet due to exchanges being in close proximity (BT and LLU services), and mobile internet via a decent 3G signal (all mobile providers).

    Frankly, the money would be better spent keeping libraries open.

  • Comment number 60.

    There are some people who seem to think that Openreach favour BT Retail over all other phone and internet service providers.

    Well you couldn’t be more wrong, I work for BT Retail and we have no more advantage over other companies like TALK TALK or Sky. In fact, at BT Retail we always feel as though Openreach favour other providers by prioritising their customer’s faults and provisions over ours in fear of OFCOM fining them.

    Also you are aware Openreach only maintain the network from the Main Distribution Frame in the Exchange up to the master socket in your home (yes, that’s right. Your extension sockets are not the responsibility of BT or Openreach). It is BT Wholesale who run the broadband network. Oh and just like Openreach BT Wholesale are a separate company from BT Retail and again we have no advantage over other internet service providers.

    And internet access a right? If internet access is a human right then it should not be managed/provided by public or private limited companies.

  • Comment number 61.

    Were there any questions on Net Neutrality? Its high time we had a good post on that on this blog

 

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