Feeds

Whatever happened to ... website-blocking?

Hunt received Code months ago, and stalled

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Why has the Digital Economy Act run into the mud? The laborious business of implementing the Act is taking longer than anyone envisaged a year ago. We've now learned of one reason.

Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt received Ofcom's Code of Practice last December, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport tells us. The Code is the first step in implementing the Act and defines obligations for ISPs and copyright-holders for the year-long monitoring period proposed by the Act – during which letters will be sent out, and their effects measured.

Ofcom delivered the obligations Code pretty much on time, as expected, after six months. Since then Hunt has been in possession of the Code, but declined to approve it – as the DEA says he must. Has he lost it? Has it fallen down the back of a radiator?

"No  precise  date has been set for the publication of the code," a DCMS spokesperson told us.  "We continue to work with Ofcom and the code will be published as soon as possible."

One reason cited for the delay is that a judicial challenge by BT and TalkTalk requesting clarification has thrown in some uncertainty; the Administrative Court isn't expected to rule on this until early summer. But that doesn't necessarily put a spanner in the works, as a judicial review doesn't stop legislation being enacted. More relevant is that one part of the DEA is considered almost too hot to handle: section 17, which deals with web-blocking.

Since late last year, Ed Vaizey has been hosting roundtables to get ISPs and rights-holders to come up with a voluntary alternative. It's "politically unacceptable", according to sources familiar with the private discussions, and you can gauge Hunt's reluctance to implement it by his public comments – we'll look at those below. We wouldn't be surprised if section 17, as envisaged in the DEA, is never implemented.

The site-blocking section (section 17) was inserted into the DEA late in proceedings, prompted by concerns over the rise of "cyberlockers" such as Megaupload and Rapidshare. The BPI led the charge, and it resulted in this legislation being passed a year ago.

The law permits the Secretary of State to create regulations that permit rights-holders to apply for a court injunction to ensure ISPs block access to websites. A long list of qualifications follows: the site must have a serious impact on a business; the site must host or enable access to "a substantial amount" of infringing material; and there are clauses for freedom of expression and the staggeringly vague "effect on any person's legitimate interests". There's a get-out for search engines and intermediaries, and another ensuring ISPs aren't financially penalised. The regulation must be approved by Parliament and must also be subject to a 60-day discussion period.

In February, Vaizey's boss Jeremy Hunt ordered Ofcom to look at web-blocking. As Hunt told the Commons Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport recently:

"It is not simply about blocking access to a URL. What can happen is if you block access to one URL someone can relocate their servers in Ukraine or Belarus or Tajikistan and it can be practically very difficult to prevent that happening. That is what I am trying to find out from Ofcom."

Creative industries aren't expecting this to go their way.

While the BPI would dearly love to see large nether-regions of the internet disappear from view, it has made much more modest demands. The BPI has a hit-list of just 26 sites, according to MP Louise Bagshawe (profile), a blockbuster author who worked in marketing and PR in the music industry, and now sits on the Culture Select Committee.

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Next page: Bootnote

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.