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Good to hear @Ofcom set out its approach to regulating to prevent #OnlineHarms - namely that it will be an evolutionary, evidence-based approach. We’d suggest a good starting point is knowing, independently, confidently and proportionality which users are adults and which are not https://twitter.com/pi_conference/status/1233006338940243968

Political Monitor 21/03/2014

Broadband

Which? calls on ISPs to “Give us Broadband Speed Guaranteed”

Which? is campaigning for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to ‘Give us Broadband Speed Guaranteed’ so that customers get the speed and service they pay for. New Which? research finds that:

  • 63% of people experience problems with their broadband
  • 45% of people suffer slow download speeds
  • Out of those reporting loss of service, 27% waited 2 days for it to be resolved, and 11% had no internet for over a week
  • 20% said they contacted their ISP three times or more to resolve a problem

Which? Is calling on broadband companies to:

  • Give customers written speed estimates at the start of the contract, with an accurate estimate for their home
  • Allow people to exit contracts without penalty if they don’t get the minimum speed estimated at any point in their contract
  • Fix loss of connection as quickly as possible and refund people for loss of service
  • Cut out the jargon – give consumers information they understand and take responsibility for fixing problems

ISPA is running a workshop for members on consumer issues on Thursday 3rd April 2014, specifically Alternative Dispute Resolution, please contact admin@ISPA.org.uk for further details.

Parliamentary Questions

  • Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, confirmed that whilst the Government has issued guidance to local authorities encouraging them to publish seven-digit postcode level roll-out maps, ultimately such data is the responsibility of Cumbria County Council

 

Ofcom

Cross-sector UK regulators network launched

The Chief Executives of the UK's economic regulators have joined together to launch the UK Regulators Network (UKRN), tasked with improving coordination across regulated sectors to enhance investment and efficiency for the benefit of consumers.
The new network has committed to an ambitious programme of joint work on issues of cross-sectoral significance and will work together to achieve three main objectives:

  • To improve the consistency of economic regulation across sectors
  • Deliver efficiency of regulation
  • To improve understanding of how independent economic regulation works in the interests of consumers, markets, investment and economic performance and identify scope to do better

UKRN brings together the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Office of Communications (Ofcom), The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), Office of Water Regulation (Ofwat), the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (UREGNI). Monitor and the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) are also participating as observers.

 

Communications Data & Law Enforcement

Home Affairs Committee - Session on Radicalisation & Intelligence Services Oversight

Sir Mark Waller, the Intelligence Services Commissioner, gave evidence during the first session focusing on the effectiveness of the current oversight regime for the intelligence services. He stressed that even though he only looked at a small subset of cases, he felt that the oversight regime was effective as the services always had to take into account that senior judges like him could review cases. He further warned against making the system too bureaucratic.

David Davis MP and Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch, gave evidence in the second part of the session and made a case for a strengthened oversight regime, e.g. by allowing MPs to elect the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). They also raised the issue of bulk collection of communications data and suggested a system of judicial oversight. Nick Pickles further raised the issue that BT had been unable to deny that they were handing over data in bulk to the Government and that the Government had also been unable to deny this.

James Brokenshire MP, the Minister for Security and Immigration gave evidence in the third and final session which covered a broad range of topics and only briefly touched on matters of relevance to ISPA members. The Minister explained that:

  • He was unable to comment on the issue of bulk collection as it might fall under Section 94 Telecommunications Act 1984 and could thus be an issue of national security but that he would get back to the Committee.
  • The number of extremist material taken down by the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit had risen to 29,000
  • The Government was in discussion with the internet industry on codes of practices for responding to flags and requests from law enforcement and the use of family friendly filters for lawful extremist material, as well as the industry’s role in building a counter-narrative

 

Online Safety

Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes report into Online Safety

The Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee published its sixth report into Online Child Safety this week. The report follows a call for evidence and oral evidence sessions conducted last autumn. ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman gave oral and written evidence to the Committee and a number of our points were reflected in the report.

Overall the report concludes that more could be done by industry, Government, law enforcement and others to bring about a safer online experience. The Committee acknowledges that it is a complex area, with no one simple solution, and so caveats a number of recommendations. The headline from the Committee is that regulation is not the solution, rather:

  • Existing laws should be enforced more robustly
  • Legal adult sites should do more to restrict access
  • Parents should be given more support, including all ISPs offering a whole home filtering solution

The report is structured into three areas of concern: Illegal content, harmful adult content being made available to children and harmful behaviour on social media. A detailed summary was emailed to the relevant ISPA sub-groups, and further information on the report is available on the ISPA website here.

Government will have to respond to the Committee in due course.

Preventing online child abuse

Lord Taylor, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office, outlined what systems are in place to prevent online child abuse. He stated that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Command of the National Crime Agency (NCA) is the UK's national law enforcement agency committed to tackling the sexual abuse of children in both the online and offline environments - with the principal aim of identifying, locating and safeguarding children and young people from harm. Lord Taylor highlighted that:

  • Every officer in the NCA has a legal duty to safeguard children and promote child welfare,            and the NCA has extensive domestic and global reach
  • Government’s work with industry was helping prevent abuse and the creation of a new UK/US taskforce would further help in countering online child sexual exploitation
  • Government engagement with internet companies had produced significant changes to search engine mechanisms that have made it harder to access to child abuse images online
  • The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) was further helping to prevent online child abuse, explaining that the group is formed of representatives from Government, law enforcement, the charity sector, academia and the online industry

 

Cyber Security

Government cyber security skills reports published

Building on the Government's Business
Engagement Exercise on cyber skills at the end of 2013, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills have published two documents on cyber security skills. The policy paper titled “Cyber Security skills: business perspectives and government’s next steps” summarises key findings from the exercise and sets out plans for skills and research activities in 2014-15. The guidance document “Cyber Security Skills: A guide for business”  has been developed at the request of businesses to showcase the opportunities and benefits for businesses of getting involved in cyber security skills and research activities.

Francis Maude MP opens Cyber Security Challenge Masterclass

Francis Maude MP, the Cabinet Minister responsible for cyber-security, opened the final of the 2014 Cyber  Security Challenge Masterclass, which tests the cyber security skills of amateur contestants. He gave a speech, encouraging those participating in the masterclass, whilst taking the opportunity to outline the Government’s cyber-security strategy, drawing attention to the importance of getting the right cyber skills in place now to face the cyber-security challenges of the future.

 

Other

Music interoperability and competition

Asked about the potential for Government action to prevent closed markets by facilitating the interoperability of electronic media and music between different operating systems, Consumers       Minister Jenny Willott MP outlined that, due to the global nature of the electronic media market, the Government was unable to take unilateral action that would facilitate greater interoperability of       systems in the UK. Furthermore, she added that on top of increasing interoperability between systems, consumers already have the choice when buying digital media to purchase a tied format or one which can be used on other systems.

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