On Tuesday the UK Government introduced the Digital Economy Bill to parliament. Tech City UK welcomes the bill and below is a summary of what its implications may be for digital businesses
With the primary aim of making the UK the most digital nation in the world, here are the five main benefits of the bill:
- To enable the building of world-class digital infrastructure including fast broadband and mobile networks
- To support new digital industries
- To reform the way government uses data to deliver public services
- Strengthen protections for citizens in the digital world
- Roll out universal broadband and better mobile phone connections, to ensure everyone is part of the digital economy
To achieve these benefits and make the UK a world leader in digital provision there are a set of key elements which target various areas of the digital economy.
The first is ensuring that everyone has the right to fast broadband and the bill would give the power to introduce a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation, giving consumers and businesses a legal right to have a fast broadband connection installed. The Government expects the minimum speed to be at least 10Mbps initially, and would also include power to direct Ofcom to review the speed over time to make sure it is still sufficient for modern life.
An enabler of faster, more efficient broadband may be the changes to the Electronic Communications Code, packaged within the bill. The code would cut the cost and simplify the building of mobile and superfast broadband infrastructure. Changes to the Electronic Communications Code are estimated to save over £1bn for the communications sector over a 20 year period.
Continuing with the consumer focus, a power would also be given to Ofcom to order communication providers to release complaints and connection speed data to encourage competition and provide consumers with household information on the best provider available. If the bill passes, consumers would also have a new right to automatic compensation when things go wrong with their broadband connection.
Protection Intellectual Property is also a big feature of the new bill, as the Government looks to support the growing digital industries in the UK, by addressing any differences in offline/online copyright law. Registered design owners would also be able to give notice of their rights more easily and cheaply under the Digital Economy Bill.
One of the most comprehensive areas of the bill is on Government data and digital services, especially with regards to use of data and publicly-held data sets to improve public service/service delivery, whilst maintaining privacy protection. The UK Statistics Authority would be given easier access to data in order to produce more timely and accurate national statistics, which in turn allows researchers a more complete and accurate evidence base to inform analysis and policy making.
Tech City UK CEO, Gerard Grech said: “Government’s unrelenting support of digital entrepreneurship in the Uk since the launch of Tech City UK in 2010 has helped to build a world-leading digital economy in the UK.
Through the Tech Nation Visa, SEIS/EIS and the launch of Tech North, we have seen unprecedented commitment to working with businesses and helping them grow seamlessly to the next level.
The Digital Economy Bill is another great step in the right direction, ensuring consumers and businesses have access to fast broadband and strong IP protection whilst at the same time ensuring consumers can enjoy their experience safely online. We welcome the bill.”
You can read a summary of the Bill or alternatively read the full Queen’s speech in which it appeared.