HomeInsightsDigital Economy Bill 2016-17 receives Royal Assent

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On 27 April 2017, the Digital Economy Bill became the Digital Economy Act 2017. The Government says that the Act introduces measures to modernise the UK for enterprise and that the measures have been designed to:

  • empower consumers and ensure everyone has access to broadband wherever they live;
  • build a better infrastructure fit for the digital future;
  • enable better public services using digital technologies; and
  • provide important protections for citizens from spam email and nuisance calls and protect children from online pornography.

Accordingly, the Act includes provisions that will:

  • give every household a legal right to request a fast broadband connection;
  • give consumers and businesses better information about communication services, easier switching and automatic compensation if things go wrong;
  • cut the costs for new infrastructure and simplify planning rules;
  • enable stronger enforcement of direct marketing laws;
  • create civil penalties for online pornographers who do not verify the age of their customers, and ISP level blocking of non-compliant sites; and
  • help protect consumers from “bill shock” by requiring mobile network operators to offer a bill capping facility.

During the passage of the Bill through Parliament, a series of what the Government calls “useful provisions” were been added, including;

  • powers to ensure that the Crown guarantee of BT pensions has the necessary flexibility to allow BT and Openreach to be separated;
  • powers to tackle the problem of “bots” in the online secondary ticketing market;
  • an extension of the public lending right to cover e-books; and
  • provision to ensure that on-demand television is accessible to people with disabilities.

To read the Government’s press release in full, click here.