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Posts Tagged ‘Censorship

UK next gen broadband slips to 2017

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The deadline for Britain’s national next generation broadband service has slipped to 2017.

This emerged the day after the European Commission agreed to approve the government’s controversial £1.5bn procurement plan after nearly nine months of argument.

Asked to clarify the amount at stake, a commission spokesman said, “In the notification we received from the UK, the £1.5 bn (is) planned for the period until 2017.”

The previous Labour government had set a 2013 target for a universal 2Mbps service. The coalition soon changed that to “the best broadband network in Europe by 2015”.

The deal negotiated by culture secretary Maria Miller a couple of weeks ago leaves Britain targeting a minimum 2Mbps universal service, with 90% of people having access to a 24Mbps service.

On the same day that it announced its approval for the BDUK scheme, the commission approved a €2bn (£1.6bn) scheme to support rural areas in Bavaria, Germany. This plans a minimum 50Mbps network for “commercial and accumulation areas”.

Neither DCMS, the government’s responsible department, nor the commission were prepared to give details of where the UK’s £1.5bn is coming from. The official statement says the amount is £530m.

Pressed on this, the DCMS said the £1bn balance will be met by local authorities. It is unclear whether it includes £150m each for the Superconnected Cities initiative and the extension of mobile broadband to rural areas. However the commission said “EU funds” were part of the package.

This detail may be included in the agreement between the government and the commission. A commission press release yesterday said that a redacted (censored) version of the agreement would be made public in due course. Commission sources say the British government is now making the cuts.

It is unclear what will be kept secret. It is believed that Brussels was unconvinced by British claims that the resulting networks would provide “open access” on a “competitive” basis. This is because only BT and Fujitsu qualified as suppliers under the framework. The Cabinet Office later labeled Fujitsu “unreliable”, effectively blacklisting it.

It is believed that there are still disagreements over the headline download speeds deemed acceptable. The commission told Br0kenTeleph0ne, “The 30 Mbps universal coverage objective in 2020 is the objective of the EU’s Digital Agenda. We consider the (BDUK) scheme will help the UK reach this objective.”

That gives the UK eight years’ breathing room. Well, not quite. Part of the deal is that DCMS will have to report to the commission on progress by March 2015.

It is unclear what sanctions the EU can impose if the UK is behind target. That will probably be a issue  for the next government.


Online sunshine leads to better behaviour

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ITU secretary-General Hamadoun Touré is not given to exaggeration, so it’s interesting to hear him warn governments not to mess with the internet.

Cut off access at your peril, he says. Which is not news to presidents of Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Syria, among others, but may come as a bit of surprise to the heads of western nations.

Reason is simple: people regard access to the internet as a human right, something the UN endorsed last week, so mess with that, you are messing with something people hold personally very dear, even if they don’t use Facebook quite as much as they used to.

Which is why Touré is calling for a common code of conduct negotiated between governments, ISPs, the security mob, civil society and users. We can all (mostly) agree online kiddie porn is a no-no. But reading the Wikileaks cables is a matter of debate.

With the UK thinking of filtering and blocking websites to prevent us all from turning into terrorists, perhaps the government needs to pause to consider alternatives to co-opting the ISP community to block stuff it considers objectionable.

To quote US judge Louis Brandeis, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Access to information via the net is clearly online sunshine.

Perhaps, as Touré says, access to the net will help all of us, governments’ included, behave better.

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/14 at 21:27

Is Sony censoring the internet?

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leads to this

Are we looking at net censorship?

Written by Br0kenTeleph0n3

2011/06/03 at 09:33

Online copyright laws are premature, say telcos, ISPs

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European communications providers and internet service providers (ISPs) yesterday condemned European Commission moves to protect online content, saying they were were “premature”.

In a joint statement, Cable Europe, ECTA, ETNO, EuroISPA and GSMA, welcomed the search for search for a “holistic” solution, but regretted that the Commission seemed  “pre-disposed to revise the IPR Enforcement Directive 2004/48 (IPRED) at this premature stage”.

Too little had passed from the directive’s transpostion into national law, it said. “Consequently, there is insufficient evidence at this stage to suggest a real necessity for a revision.”

Premature changes risked stifling innovation and the development of new models by which creative people could build new businesses and jobs, they said.

The signatories worried that the commission planned to force ISPs to police their internet traffic for illegal downloads, and that this could make them liable for charges of illegally infringing their customers’  privacy, and the entire process was outside judicial oversight. .

The statement highlights background to an opinion expressed by the commission’s Digital Agenda head, Neelie Kroes, at the E>G8 conference in Paris this morning. Kroes said the present copyright regime was unfit for purpose in the digital economy and needed to be updated.

Several (US) speakers from the E>G8 floor praised the recent Hargreaves review, the UK’s effort to update copyright for the digital economy. It was “less moralistic” than yesterday’s heated debate on the subject, said one.

Watershed week for online world

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This week promises to be a watershed for the communications industry. Later today, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal will leave a crucial European foreign ministers’ summit in Brussels to address a Google-sponsored conference on free expression in the online world. This is a handy kick-off to Tuesday and Wednesday’s e-G8 Forum, which French president Nicholas Sarkozy is hosting ahead of the actual G8 meeting that kicks off  on Thursday. Some critics of the eG8 believe Sarkozy wants a rubber stamp for his “three strikes and out” law for online pirates, which some believe is the thin end of internet censorship. Be that as it may heads of state will be discussing among other things, governance of the internet. Whereas authoritarian governments want to see the internet locked down, the US and EU are fighting to keep its open character. They will do this in the light of the Wikileaks disclosures about how diplomacy works in practice, the Twitter-fueled Arab (and now Spanish) spring, and the furore that surrounds the breaking of an English court injunction on disclosure of a footballer’s extra-marital affair. More ominously, they also face the on-going attack or at least attempts to penetrate critical national infrastructure and key government ministries and private companies. On Wednesday UK communications regulator Ofcom will publish new general conditions and universal service conditions for communications providers. Thursday will see the annual general meeting of Nominet, the private, not-for-profit company that manages the .uk internet domain, among other things. Nominet is under pressure to make it easier for law enforcement agencies to get websites taken off the internet, but there is a heated debate about the grounds for complying with such requests. On a lighter note, Thursday will also see the opening of the Tunny gallery at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, the famous Station X of the World War Two code breakers. Tunny machines were instrumental in helping the Allies read enemy code.