Why is UK Govt ignoring its Digital Britain report?

Digital Britain report
So what exactly was the point of the Digital Britain report?

Sometimes we think we're living in Groundhog Day. "We're going to cut off illegal downloaders!" the government will cry, before abandoning the plans. The next day, "We're going to cut off illegal downloaders!" The next day… you get the idea.

Guess what's happened today? That's right! The government's going to cut off illegal downloaders!

You know as well as we do the reasons why cutting off people's connections is over the top and unfair, so let's skip that. Instead, let's look at the bigger picture: what on earth was the point of Digital Britain?

That, you'll recall, was an attempt to come up with a brilliant plan for Britain's digital future, taking care of existing industries while nurturing new ones. And one of the things that the Digital Britain report ruled out was, you've guessed it, cutting off people's internet connections.

Now maybe we're wrong, and the government's decision to ignore its own experts is nothing to do with Peter Mandelson palling around with billionaire record company owners.

That's certainly the government's line, and it's not as if they've got a track record of making stuff up or telling bare-faced lies. Mind you, if the government is lying, we'd understand it. We wouldn't approve, but we'd understand it: politicians have a long tradition of protecting their pals and ignoring the great unwashed.

If the government's telling the truth, however, it's even more depressing - because it means the whole Digital Britain process is a sham, just like any other public consultation.

Digital Britain's job in that environment isn't to listen to everybody, balance their needs and protect the country's digital future; it's to rubber-stamp things the government has already decided to do, and if it comes up with alternatives it's simply going to be ignored.

Some choice, eh? Either our digital policy has already been decided and projects such as Digital Britain are simply marketing, an attempt to make us think that the government gives a monkey's about what we think while it watches us on CCTV and sniggers, or our digital policy is based on looking after whoever takes our elected representatives on the nicest trips.

Perhaps we shouldn't be looking at official reports to see what our digital future holds: we should be keeping an eye on who's taking Peter Mandelson to dinner.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.