No 'broadband tax' in government's Digital Economy Bill

No mention of any 'broadband tax' in the new Digital Economy Bill
No mention of any 'broadband tax' in the new Digital Economy Bill

The Labour government has laid out its plans in its Digital Economy Bill, briefly outlined in the Queen's Speech at the opening of Parliament this week.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the ill-conceived 'broadband tax' that was originally mooted as part of Lord Carter's Digital Britain report, which now looks like it has been shunted across to become part of the Finance Bill, due later in 2010.

Piracy still a political point scorer

The bill does still mention that government should have the power to disconnect persistent online pirates, as well as discussing what the government considers to be the necessary changes required in the radio spectrum and the reasoning behind the new PEGI classification system for age-ratings on videogames.

The Queen read out the bill in the House of Lords earlier today, which will, according to the government, "ensure communications infrastructure that is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting".

As for the controversial plans to cut-off pirates, the bill outlines that this will work as a two-stage process. The first stage will be taking steps to educate consumers about the issues and the penalties they face should they be persistent offenders.

The second stage will be introducing powers to disconnect pirates, should they refuse to stop file-sharing illegally after receiving letters informing them to do so. This will be introduced in the spring of 2011.

Great plan? Or debilitating shambles?

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor claimed the bill "is good news for fans of British music" and is pleased to see that "government is now introducing legislation to tackle illegal downloading.

He added: "The creative sector in the UK needs new measures implemented urgently that address this problem for now and the future if the UK is to lead Europe in giving consumers innovative and high quality digital entertainment."

A statement from The Open Rights Group was not so welcoming, noting: "This plan won't stop copyright infringement and with a simple accusation could see you and your family disconnected from the internet - unable to engage in everyday activities like shopping and socialising."

TechRadar expects further responses from the UK's gaming industry (PEGI, ELSPA and others) the internet service providers Association (ISPA) and Digital Radio UK on the government's plans announced today, so stay tuned for further updates later today and through the week.

Adam Hartley