DCMS Committee inquiry into Broadband and the road to 5G
MPs have launched an inquiry into Broadband and the road to 5G to examine the Government’s pledge to get gigabit-capable broadband into every home and business in the UK by 2025. The inquiry is focusing on how realistic the proposal is, what is needed to achieve it and what the target will mean for businesses and consumers.
Written Questions on Broadband rollout
Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, responded to written questions on broadband rollout from Alan Brown MP (SNP) and Mark Pritchard MP (Con). He highlighted the Government’s plan to invest £5bn into the hardest to reach areas where it is less commercially feasible. The Government intends to start procuring contracts in 2021. He also referenced the Government’s £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme already underway and the Government’s in-principle support for the Mobile Network Operators’ Shared Rural Network proposal which would help increase 4G coverage in the UK to 95% by 2025.
Written Questions on 5G health concerns
Responding to David Davis MP (Con) on the topic of 5G trials, Warman restated the Government’s announcement of a £65million package of 5G trials which forms part of the DCMS £200million 5G Testbeds and Trials programme. This will ensure every project has a security strategy that identifies and mitigates security risks. He also emphasised that none of the successful projects announced as part of the Industrial 5G and Rural Connected Communities make use of equipment from high risk vendors.
Additionally, Jo Churchill, Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, replied to written questions from Carla Lockhart MP (DUP) and Sir Christopher Chope (Con). Citing advise from Public Health England, she stated that despite a minor increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to the network, it remains low relative to international guidelines and there is no consequences for public health.
Westminster Hall Debate on 5G: Supply Chain Security
On Wednesday, a Westminster Hall Debate, led by former Cabinet Minister and Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, was held to discuss the security implications of including Huawei in 5G. The debate raised concerns over national security issues, western alliances and the establishment of international cyber norms. Repeated references were made to the de facto ownership of Huawei by the Chinese State and the implications that had for the security of the national infrastructure and the ability to protect the country from cyber threats in the future. Duncan Smith and other MPs plan to table an amendment to the Telecoms Infrastructure Bill next week that aims to reduce Huawei’s involvement to zero by 2022.
Written questions on online safety
Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Digital and Culture, responded to questions from Lee Anderson MP (Con), Ellie Reeves MP (Lab) and Chi Onwurah MP (Lab) on internet safety. Dinenage wrote that further to the arrangements between companies and charities, the Online Harms White Paper set out the Government’s plan to establish a new duty of care on companies. This would mean companies would have to address harmful suicide and self-harm content. She also said that the related transparency working group had representatives from a wide range of organisations to reflect the diversity of views about transparency reporting in relation to online harms.
Responding to multiple questions from Preet Gill MP (Lab) Dinenage repeated her point about duty of care and clarified that ‘revenge pornography’ would fall under this scope. The regulator will have powers to act against companies that breach these requirements. She also revealed that the Government would be conducting a second phase to its review of abusive and offensive online communications. This will ensure that the law provides effective protection against the creation and sharing of intimate images without consent. The full texts can be found here and here.
Blueprint to keep children safe agreed by five countries and major tech companies
Eleven draft principles, agreed upon by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, designed to ensure children are not sexually exploited on platforms, have been agreed by major industry tech companies. These include Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Snap and Roblox. The 11 principles are split into six different categories: preventing child sexual abuse material from appearing; target online grooming and predatory behaviour; target livestreaming; a specialised approach for children; victim/survivor considerations collaborate and respond to evolving threat; and search. Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: ‘I want this landmark collaboration across borders and sectors to define a stronger, new, united approach.’
Written Question on Google’s transfer of customer data to the US.
Responding to Lord Taylor of Warwick, Baroness Barran, Minister for Civil Society and DCMS, stated that despite the move of personal data from Google Ireland to Google US, they would continue to apply the same high standards of GDPR protection for UK users, with no change in its privacy rules.
Oliver Dowden’s first speech as Secretary of State
Speaking at the Enders Media and Telecoms Conference, Dowden set DCMS as the ‘ministry of the future’ highlighting that sectors under its remit account for almost 12% of the UK economy and are growing at five time the rate of the UK economy as a whole. He emphasised the importance of connectivity and thus delivering gigabit broadband to all parts of the UK. Recognising that connectivity alone is not enough, Dowden empathised the importance of the Online Harms White Paper and its role in protecting children online and holding tech companies to their promises.
Addressing the future of the BBC, Dowden paid tribute to its international success but confirmed that there would be a consultation on decriminalising TV licence evasion and a review of the BBC Charter.
Parliament and Internet Conference
The 14th Parliament and Internet Conference was hosted by ISPA on February 27th. The theme of this year’s Conference was Digital Policy Agenda for Global Britain. The main takeaways from the conference can be found here.
Cyber Security Working Group
The first ISPA Cyber Security Working Group meeting of 2020 is taking place on the afternoon of Wednesday March 18th from 2-5pm at ISPA’s offices, 69 Wilson Street, EC2A 2BB.
This event is for ISPA members only, if you wish to attend, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Distributed Core Network and Network Automation Workshop with DCN Professional Solutions.
The Distributed Core Network and Network Automation Workshop will be taking place on 31st March from 1pm to 5pm (with lunch and refreshments) in ISPA offices, 69 Wilson street, London, EC2A 2BB, this workshop is aimed at CTOs, Network Service Engineers, and Product Managers. During this workshop our partners Salumanus will suggest solutions to obtain a network architecture that provides seamless connectivity. They will take a closer look at each level of Distributed Core Network and show how different network faults are dealt with by Network Automation mechanisms inside and between switches. Their Wavelength Division Multiplexing will also give you an overview on how to use this technology to implement Distributed Core Network as well as provide seamless connectivity with your existing network infrastructure. They will suggest where else in your network you could benefit from WDM advantages.
This workshop is free to attend, please RSVP to email@example.com to secure your place.