Thursday, February 25, 2010

Senator Lundy on Internet Regulation

Senator Kate Lundy has written extensively, and thoughtfully, on the issue of Internet censorship in Australia. I think she is on the right track. This is an issue where you can't please everyone. I had the task of preparing the ACS position on regulation in 1995. My own position is summed up in a talk gave on ABC Radio: "Filtering Porn on the Internet: Imperfect by Necessity".

By Senator Lundy on Internet filtering:

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Not a Review of Not a Gadget

This is not a review. Apparently Jaron Lanier has written a book called "You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto". The only reason I know this is because people keep telling me via the Internet. I have had a gushing and completely unintelligible review sent to me by a librarian. A web search finds 3,680,000 mentions of the book. But I can't get the book and have to rely on what I read about it on the web, which seems to invalidate what the book says.

Mr. Lanier has chosen to have only a hardback print edition made available, no lower cost widely available, paperback. There are Kindle version and Audio download, but the price for these has been set even higher than the hardback.

I can't read the book (at least not at a reasonable price and my library's copy has not yet arrived), so I have to go by what the author, and others say about it. That is a little difficult as Mr. Lanier has only provided a few snippets about the book, such as "Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress." One message the book seems to have is that crowd sourcing does not necessarily provide good information. Another message seems to be that good information is not free. By making only very high cost versions of his book available, Mr. Lanier seems to be practising what he preaches. However, while I agree that the free-wheeling world of mash-ups may be an illusion, I don't think a quaint 19th century gentleman's club of exchanging ideas via books which take years to distribute and only to those with money is a good approach either.

The printed book is bound with "Deckle Edge" paper. This simulates handmade paper by machine fraying the edges of the paper. To produce a book about the follies of Web 2.0, which pretends to be a hand made object, is a folly in itself. Perhaps the pages of a book fraying around the edges is a good metaphor for the state of this approach to scholarly communication.

The sponsored Review says:
"... In You Are Not a Gadget, the longtime tech guru/visionary/dreadlocked genius (and progenitor of virtual reality) argues the opposite: that unfettered--and anonymous--ability to comment results in cynical mob behavior, the shouting-down of reasoned argument, and the devaluation of individual accomplishment. Lanier traces the roots of today's Web 2.0 philosophies and architectures (e.g. he posits that Web anonymity is the result of '60s paranoia), persuasively documents their shortcomings, and provides alternate paths to "locked-in" paradigms. Though its strongly-stated opinions run against the bias of popular assumptions, You Are Not a Gadget is a manifesto, not a screed; Lanier seeks a useful, respectful dialogue about how we can shape technology to fit culture's needs, rather than the way technology currently shapes us."
The author himself is positive about the effect of the Internet:
"... In the industrialized world, the rise of the Web has happily demonstrated that vast numbers of people are interested in being expressive to each other and the world at large. This is something that I and my colleagues used to boldly predict, but we were often shouted down, as the mainstream opinion during the age of television’s dominance was that people were mostly passive consumers who could not be expected to express themselves. In the developing world, the Internet, along with mobile phones, has had an even more dramatic effect, empowering vast classes of people in new ways by allowing them to coordinate with each other. That has been a very good thing for the most part, though it has also enabled militants and other bad actors."
But he sees a problem with web 2.0:
"The problem is not inherent in the Internet or the Web. Deterioration only began around the turn of the century with the rise of so-called "Web 2.0" designs. These designs valued the information content of the web over individuals. It became fashionable to aggregate the expressions of people into dehumanized data. There are so many things wrong with this that it takes a whole book to summarize them. Here’s just one problem: It screws the middle class. Only the aggregator (like Google, for instance) gets rich, while the actual producers of content get poor. This is why newspapers are dying. It might sound like it is only a problem for creative people, like musicians or writers, but eventually it will be a problem for everyone. When robots can repair roads someday, will people have jobs programming those robots, or will the human programmers be so aggregated that they essentially work for free, like today’s recording musicians? Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress."

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Filtering of Web Content by Internet Service Providers

The ACS has released the report "Thechnical Observations of ISP Based Filtering of the Internet" (12 October 2009). This discusses how well filtering of web content works, rather than the political or ethical issues of if it should be filtered. Some of these are discussed in my ABC Radio talk "Filtering Porn on the Internet:Imperfect by Necessity". The ACS report is 22 pages (300 kBytes of PDF), but the findings are summarised in a media release "ACS ISP Filtering Report: No Silver Bullet".
The ISP Filtering Report highlights the current challenges associated with filtering or blocking of internet content, which include:
  • Lack of a clear definition of the types of content that are subject to filtering
  • Limitations of automated techniques for analysing video, pictorial and audio content
  • Need for clear and consistent criteria behind labelling and rating of content
  • Where filters are placed within the network architecture, there is an impact on network performance (efficiency, speed etc)
  • Avoiding ‘over blocking’ and ‘under blocking’ and achieving consistency in blocking of material
  • The rate at which new Internet-accessible content is being generated makes it difficult to maintain up-to-date black lists, white lists, keywords and phrases etc used by analysis algorithms
  • Effectively managing user-generated material, which is created ‘on the fly.’ The labelling/rating of these sites and content is practically impossible; and
  • How to deal with encrypted traffic and secure channels, as encryption impedes filtering....
The Taskforce makes the following recommendations for progressing the debate and some issues surrounding ISP filtering. These recommendations aim to reduce the likelihood of inadvertent exposure to illegal content on the Internet:
  1. Multi- faceted approach using filtering technologies to address the distribution of illegal material - A multi faceted approach is needed to address filtering out or blocking of illegal material on the Internet using filtering technologies at the ISP, user and enterprise levels. This includes increased professionalism and tighter controls around domain name registration, education at all levels of society and oversight by parents.
  2. Education and oversight are the best methods to ensure online safety for children - There is no technological substitute for appropriate education and parental supervision of young people who are using the Internet. Education and oversight remains the best method of ensuring that children (and other end users) are aware of online safety and are not deliberately viewing inappropriate material or engaging in inappropriate behaviour online.
  3. Objectives of any ISP filtering program should be clearly defined. Based on recommendations 1 and 2, the Taskforce believes the policy objective for filtering should be clearly articulated; for instance, whether it is:
    • to avoid inadvertent or unintended viewing of Refused Classification (RC) or illegal content while surfing the web;
    • to prevent, detect, block and prosecute delivery, access, publication or circulation of RC or illegal content;
    • to deter both inadvertent and/or deliberate interaction with a wider ambit of RC, illegal or prohibited material using any method of Internet access.

    In addition to clear objective(s), this program should also include: performance standards, clarity around the definition of material to be filtered, reporting processes, type of traffic and filtering mechanisms to be used.
  4. Development of minimum standards to measure filtering efficiency - Different filtering processes achieve varying results in terms of impacts on speeds, resource usage and accuracy of filtering (over blocking and under blocking). In mandating or regulating for ISP level filtering, the Federal Government should develop a set of minimum standards to be achieved against which the efficacy of filtering can be measured.
  5. Planning for location of content filters - The Taskforce believes considerable thought needs to be given to location of filters within the ISP architecture (depending on the size, speed and level of redundancy) to avoid multiple filtering of feeds, filter failure which causes service disruptions and significant performance reduction due to filter operations.
  6. Implementing a national, voluntary content rating system - As part of any ISP filtering program, a national, content rating system could allow content providers to rate the material on their sites. Any rating scheme used should be standardised and easy to use so content developers can self-rate their content.
  7. Transparent guidelines and auditing process - The Government should establish clear, unambiguous guidelines on sites and material that will be included on the ACMA black list. In addition, there should be an independent and transparent auditing process for the black list and an ability for complaints about those sites included on the black list to be lodged and assessed in a timely manner.
  8. Ability to customise filtering levels - The Government should strongly encourage ISPs to provide products that allow users to select/customise their preferred level of filtering (above that which is mandatory).
  9. Education on protection and threats – As filtering is only one level of protection, the community needs to better understand the factors associated with threats, computer and network vulnerabilities and how countermeasures work and what they can do to protect themselves, if they are going to adequately protect their identities and their activities online. ...
From: ACS ISP Filtering Report: No Silver Bullet, Media Release, Australian Computer Society, 12 October 2009
The table of contents from the report:
1 Introduction 1
2 Background 2
3 Key Issues Addressed by the Task Force 3
3.1 What Are the Goals/Objectives of ISP Filtering? 3
3.2 What Type of Content Should Be Filtered? 3
3.3 Where Should Filtering Occur in the Network Architecture? 4
3.4 What Type of Internet Services Should Be Filtered? 4
3.5 Nature of Internet Filtering 4
3.6 How Is Illegal Material Distributed? 5
3.7 What Are the Criteria Behind the Black List? 5
4 Technical Issues and Filtering Techniques 6
4.1 IP Blocking Using IP Packet Filtering/Blocking 6
4.2 Domain Name Server Poisoning 7
4.3 URL Blocking Using Proxies 8
4.4 Hybrid System 8
4.5 Content and Site Labelling Based Filtering 9
4.6 Other Methods of Content Control 9
5 Issues and Design Choices for Filtering 10
5.1 Content Classification Issues 10
5.2 Criteria Enforcement 10
5.3 What Traffic to Filter 11
5.4 Encrypted Traffic 11
5.5 Filtering and Network Architecture 12
5.6 Implementation Issues 13
5.7 Addressing P2P and BitTorrent 13
5.8 Circumventing Filters 13
5.9 Over Blocking and Under Blocking 14
6 Other Issues 15
6.1 Improved Control Over Domain Name Registration 15
6.2 ISP Filtering Trial 16
7 Awareness and Education of Users 16
8 The Way Forward 17
Task Force Members 18 ...

From: Thechnical Observations of ISP Based Filtering of the Internet, Australian Computer Society, 12 October 2009

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Web Dispute Resolution Policy

Philip Argy, Chairman of the WIPO Planning Committee has sent out a new draft Web Dispute Resolution Policy and invited comment. He is in Geneva at WIPO conferences, so if you are there, look him up, otherwise you can join the WDRP discussion group on Facebook or email him comments. It is a shame WIPO are not producing the policy as a well formatted web page. Here is my attempt at a web translation:

1. Purpose. This Web Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Policy") is incorporated by reference into your agreement with us as an organisation that provides any web-based facility or application, and sets forth the terms and conditions that will apply in connection with any dispute between you and a third party involving intellectual property which includes copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, designs including matters such as the use of an identity, name or avatar used by you, or otherwise challenging the legality of your conduct. Proceedings under this Policy will be conducted according to the Rules for Web Dispute Resolution Policy (the "Rules of Procedure"), which are available at , and WIPO's supplemental rules available at

2. Your Representations. By participating in our site or availing yourself of any services or facilities we provide, you hereby represent and warrant to us that (a) the information that you provided during your registration process are true, complete and accurate; (b) to your knowledge, the name, identity, avatar, photograph and other mechanisms by which you participate in our site do not infringe upon or otherwise violate the rights of any third party; (c) you are not registering for an unlawful purpose; and (d) you will not violate, nor cause us to violate, any applicable laws or regulations in connection with your acts or omissions in interacting with our site. It is your responsibility to determine whether your conduct violates the law or someone else's rights.

3. Cancellations, Transfers, and Changes. We will cancel, transfer or otherwise make changes to your registration under any of the following circumstances:

a. subject to the provisions of Paragraph 8 , our receipt of written or appropriate electronic instructions from you or your authorized agent to take such action;

b. our receipt of an order from a court or arbitral tribunal, in each case of competent jurisdiction, requiring such action; and/or

c. our receipt of an order by an Administrative Panel requiring such action in any administrative proceeding to which you were a party and which was conducted under this Policy or a later version of this Policy adopted by WIPO.

We may also cancel, transfer or otherwise make changes to a registration in accordance with the terms of your Registration Agreement or other legal requirements.

4. Mandatory Administrative Proceeding.

This Paragraph sets forth the type of disputes for which you are required to submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding. These proceedings will be conducted under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation ("WIPO").

a. Applicable Disputes. You are required to submit to a mandatory administrative proceeding in the event that a third party (a "complainant") asserts to WIPO, in compliance with the Rules of Procedure, that your conduct involving our application or facility:

(i) infringes any intellectual property rights of the complainant; and

(ii) there is no legitimate basis for your conduct; and

(iii) your conduct is in bad faith.

In the administrative proceeding, the complainant must prove that each of these three elements are present.

b. Evidence of Bad Faith. For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii) , any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, constitutes prima facie evidence that your conduct is in bad faith:

(i) circumstances indicating that your conduct was engaged in primarily for the purpose of selling, renting, or otherwise transferring rights to the complainant or to another person, for valuable consideration in excess of your documented out-of-pocket costs directly related to your acquisition of those rights; or

(ii) you have used the complainant's intellectual property in a way which prevents the complainant or someone who derives rights from the complainant from enjoying the full benefits of those intellectual property rights, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

(iii) you have used the complainant's intellectual property primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of the complainant or another person; or

(iv) you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion between you, or any goods or services you offer, and another person or any goods or services they offer, in relation to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location or on a website or location to which a link is provided on or from your website or location .

c. How to Demonstrate a Legitimate Basis for Your Conduct in Responding to a Complaint. When you receive a complaint, you should refer to Paragraph 5 of the Rules of Procedure in determining how your response should be prepared. Any of the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be proved based on its evaluation of all evidence presented, constitute conclusive evidence that there is a legitimate basis for your conduct for the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(ii) :

(i) before you first became aware or should have become aware of the complainant's intellectual property rights, your use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the intellectual property rights your use of which are the subject of the complaint in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services by you or by a person deriving rights from you (but excluding domain monetisation conduct); or

(ii) you (as an individual, business, or other organization) have legitimately acquired the intellectual property rights your use of which are the subject of the complaint, even if you have no formally registered rights; or

(iii) you are making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of intellectual property rights, without intent for commercial gain to misleadingly divert consumers or to tarnish the complainant or its intellectual property rights.

d. WIPO. WIPO is to administer the proceeding, except in cases of consolidation as described in Paragraph 4(f) .

e. Initiation of Proceeding and Process and Appointment of Administrative Panel. The Rules of Procedure state the process for initiating and conducting a proceeding and for appointing the panel that will decide the dispute (the "Administrative Panel").

f. Consolidation. In the event of multiple disputes between you and a complainant, either you or the complainant may petition to consolidate the disputes before a single Administrative Panel. This petition shall be made to the first Administrative Panel appointed to hear a pending dispute between the parties. This Administrative Panel may consolidate before it any or all such disputes in its sole discretion, provided that the disputes being consolidated are governed by this Policy or a later version of this Policy adopted by WIPO .

g. Fees. All fees charged by WIPO in connection with any dispute before an Administrative Panel pursuant to this Policy must be paid by the complainant, except in cases where you elect to expand the Administrative Panel from one to three panelists as provided in Paragraph 5(b)(iv) of the Rules of Procedure, in which case all fees will be borne equally by you and the complainant.

h. Our Involvement in Administrative Proceedings. We do not, and will not, participate in the administration or conduct of any proceeding before an Administrative Panel. In addition, we will not be liable as a result of any decisions rendered by the Administrative Panel.

i. Remedies. The remedies available to a complainant pursuant to any proceeding before an Administrative Panel are limited to requiring the cancellation and/or banning of your registration with us, or the dismissal of the complaint .

j. Notification and Publication. WIPO will notify us of any decision made by an Administrative Panel with respect to your registration with us. All decisions under this Policy will be made publicly available on WIPO's website, except when an Administrative Panel determines in an exceptional case to redact portions of its decision.

k. Availability of Court Proceedings. The mandatory administrative proceeding requirements set forth in Paragraph 4 do not prevent either you or the complainant from submitting the dispute to a court of competent jurisdiction for independent resolution before such mandatory administrative proceeding is commenced or after such proceeding is concluded. If an Administrative Panel orders that your registration should be cancelled or transferred, we will wait 10 business days (as observed in the location of our principal office) after we are informed by WIPO of the Administrative Panel's decision before implementing that decision. We will then implement the decision unless we have received from you during that 10 business day period official documentation (such as a copy of court initiating process, sealed by the court) evidencing that you have commenced a lawsuit against the complainant in a jurisdiction to which the complainant has submitted under Paragraph 3(b)(xiii) of the Rules of Procedure. (In general, that jurisdiction is either the location of our principal office or of your address as shown in our database. See Paragraphs 1 and 3(b)(xiii) of the Rules of Procedure for details.) If we receive such documentation within the 10 business day period, we will not implement the Administrative Panel's decision, and we will take no further action, until we receive (i) evidence satisfactory to us of a resolution between the parties; (ii) evidence satisfactory to us that your lawsuit has been dismissed or withdrawn; or (iii) a copy of an order from such court dismissing your lawsuit or declaring that you do not have the right to continue your registration with us .

5. All Other Disputes and Litigation. All other disputes between you and any party other than us regarding your conduct that are not brought pursuant to the mandatory administrative proceeding provisions of Paragraph 4 are to be resolved between you and such other party through any court, arbitration or other proceeding that may be available.

6. Our Involvement in Disputes. We will not participate in any way in any dispute between you and any party other than us regarding your registration and conduct. You must not name us as a party or otherwise include us in any such proceeding. In the event that we are named as a party in any such proceeding, we reserve the right to raise any and all defences deemed appropriate, and to take any other action necessary to defend ourselves.

7. Maintaining the Status Quo. We will not cancel, transfer, activate, deactivate, or otherwise change the status of any registration under this Policy except as provided in Paragraph 3 above or in accordance with any of our other terms and conditions by which you are bound .

8. Transfers During a Dispute.

a. Transfers. You may not transfer your registration to another person (i) during a pending administrative proceeding brought pursuant to Paragraph 4 or for a period of 15 business days (as observed in the location of our principal place of business) after such proceeding is concluded; or (ii) during a pending court proceeding or arbitration commenced regarding your conduct unless the party to whom the registration is being transferred agrees, in writing, to be bound by the decision of the court or arbitrator. We reserve the right to cancel any transfer of registration to another person that is made in violation of this subparagraph.

b. Changing Organisations. To the extent that it is technically possible to do so, you must not transfer or delegate your registration to another organisation during a pending administrative proceeding brought pursuant to Paragraph 4 or for a period of 15 business days (as observed in the location of our principal place of business) after such proceeding is concluded. You may transfer administration of your registration to another person during a pending court action or arbitration, provided that your conduct continues to be subject to the proceedings commenced against you in accordance with the terms of this Policy. In the event that you transfer a registration to us during the pendency of a court action or arbitration, the dispute remains subject to the dispute resolution policy of the organisation from which the registration was transferred.

9. Policy Modifications. We reserve the right to modify this Policy at any time with the permission of WIPO. We will post our revised Policy at at least 30 calendar days before it becomes effective. Unless this Policy has already been invoked by the submission of a complaint to WIPO, in which event the version of the Policy in effect at the time it was invoked will apply to you until the dispute is over, all such changes will be binding upon you with respect to any dispute, whether the dispute arose before, on or after the effective date of our change. In the event that you object to a change in this Policy, your sole remedy is to cancel your registration with us. The revised Policy will apply to you until you cancel your registration.

From: Web Dispute Resolution Policy, Revised Discussion Draft, Planning Committee, WIPO, 11 October 2009.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Adult digital media literacy needs

The Australian Communications and Media Authority report "Adult digital media literacy needs" (1 October 2009) has found a significant number of Australians are missing out on the benefits of the Internet, due to a lack of skills and motivation. ACMA are concerned by this as these people will be left behind as digital media becomes more important.

This has public policy implications. It is very easy for a government body to assume that if they provide information or a service via the web, then everyone can use it. ACMA's solution seems to be extra education of the digitally illiterate for this minority. But this may not always be possible and there are other options. It is likely that there will continue to be people who are unable, or unwilling, to use digital media (including those who do not find it of use). One reason Roger Clarke and myself suggested providing Internet access at public libraries was that these facilities are staffed with highly trained information professionals to can help the public with information access (called "librarians"). There will be a continuing need for such people.

ACMA's suggestions for convincing people to use digital media appear at best naive and misguided. What ACMA seem to have in mind is a public information campaign to try to convince people to use the Internet. The Australian government is currently spending billions of dollars on programs to provide digital education for everyone from school children to senior citizens. It seems unlikely that a "Where have you been online today?" campaign will add much to this or be a good use of public money.

Also ACMA cannot be too smug about its own information literacy, as they way they have provided their report is not exactly best practice for online information distribution. The report is provided as a monolithic 63 page electronic facsimile of a printed report in PDF (452 kb) and Microsoft Word (704 kb). Neither of these is easy to read online and contain a copyright notice which seems to be designed to discourage their use. The PDF version of the document has security set to prevent copying of text from the document, this is a pointless encumbrance which makes discussion of the document more difficult, without increasing security in any way.

From the report:


Executive summary

  • Background to research
  • Objectives of the research
  • Research methodology
  • Key findings
  • Attitudes towards different digital media
  • Overarching reasons for limited usage
  • Awareness of the benefits of using digital media
  • Overarching attitudes among non- and limited users
  • Barriers relating to the low usage patterns of digital media
  • Attitudinal segmentation
  • ‘Resistors’
  • ‘Defensive’
  • ‘Thirsty’
  • ‘Potential Transitioners’
  • ‘Economisers’
  • Summary of the attitudes of the segments
  • Suggested ways of encouraging take-up of digital media by non- and limited users
  • Specific communication needs of each segment
  • ‘Resistors’ and ‘Defensive’
  • ‘Thirsty’
  • ‘Potential Transitioners’
  • ‘Economisers’

Background to the research

  • Overview
  • The need for research

Research objectives

  • Research objectives


  • Overview
  • Sample
  • Rationale for sample
  • Digital media usage
  • Comfort levels with digital media
  • Life stage
  • Reasons for non- or limited usage of digital media
  • Socio-economic background
  • Location
  • Gender
  • People from non-English speaking backgrounds
  • Disability
  • Recruitment of respondents
  • Discussion guides
  • Research timing

Current attitudes towards digital media

  • The importance of the internet and mobile phones
  • Usage patterns of different digital media
  • Non- users’ usage patterns
  • Case study: David
  • Limited users’ usage patterns
  • Case study: Leanne’s usage patterns of digital media

Overarching attitudes towards developing digital media literacy

  • Descriptions of people who are heavy and light users of digital media
  • Descriptions of the ‘heavy’ user of digital media
  • Descriptions of the ‘light’ user of digital media
  • Overarching attitudes and reasons for limited usage
  • Difficulty in understanding why usage should be a priority
  • Perception that it is too difficult to change their ways
  • Awareness of the benefits of using digital media
  • Key driver affecting digital media usage
  • Barriers relating to the low usage patterns of digital media
  • Low usage of digital media on a day-to-day basis
  • Lack of understanding of the underlying assumptions about how digital media work
  • Lack of understanding of the commonplace language and terminology associated with digital media
  • Hierarchy of skills, knowledge and understanding
  • Importance of developing an understanding of digital media

Attitudinal segmentation

  • Attitudes towards becoming more digital media literate
  • Descriptions of the attitudinal segments
  • Case study: ‘Resistor’
  • Case study: ‘Defensive’
  • Case study: ‘Thirsty’
  • Case study: ‘Potential Transitioner’
  • Case study: ‘Economiser’
  • ‘Active’ versus ‘passive’ decision making

Suggested ways of encouraging each segment to engage with digital media

  • Overview
  • Specific communication needs of each segment
  • ‘Resistors’ and ‘Defensive’
  • ‘Thirsty’
  • ‘Potential Transitioners’
  • ‘Economisers’
  • Summary of communication needs of each segment

Findings and recommendations

  • Summary of findings
  • Researchers’ recommendations

  • Appendix A—References
  • Appendix B—Recruitment screeners
  • Appendix C—Discussion guide
  • Hierarchy of skills, knowledge and understanding

Adapted from: Adult digital media literacy needs, ACMA, August 2009

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Future Directions for the Digital Economy

The Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has published "Submissions in response to the ‘consultation draft’ for the Digital Economy Future Directions Paper". The draft paper was released in late 2008. There were 115 submissions made public, including my own:

1. Open Access to Public Sector Information:

The Australian Government should adopt the US Government's policy of open access to Public Sector Information (PSI). This can be implemented using the Australian Creative Commons licence

The Commonwealth Library Deposit and Free Issue Schemes (LDS) should be changed to encourage electronic distribution, with the paper option retained for the few items where this is not suitable

2. Digital confidence:

The Australian Government should continue to follow European practice with use of the OECD privacy principles,2340,en_2649_34255_1815186_1_1_1_1,00.html

3. Developing Australia's knowledge and skills base:

The Australian and State governments should increase funding for Education Network Australia (edna) and the Australian Flexible Learning Framework encourage further such joint state/federal initiatives. The distinction between secondary, vocational and the higher education sectors for funding of the development of e-learning content, tools and training should be removed. A condition of public funding for the development of tools and courses should be free open access. The federal government's Digital Education Revolution, should incorporate e-learning and e-literacy

4. Ensuring Australia's regulatory framework enables the digital economy:

Australian should support international copyright principles and avoid making exceptions to support US publishing interests. As Professor Geoff Walsham argues it is a "Non-Flat World" and Australia can benefit from being part of a wider culturally heterogeneous environment .

5. Digital economy and the environment:

The Australian Government should adopt a realistic CO2 emissions target of 25% to 50% reduction by 2020, in accordance with the Garnaut Report

The Australian government should implement the recommendations of the Personal Computer and Monitors Energy Efficiency Strategy prepared for the Environment Department

The Australian Government should fund its senior ICT staff to undertake the ACS Green ICT course, or equivalent training in ICT energy reduction

6. Measuring the digital economy and its Impacts:

The Australian Government should restore previously cut funding to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to allow the suspended ICT statistics to be again collected


Also, as mentioned previously, while the consultation paper was good, the consultation process was poor:

From: Submissions in response to the ‘consultation draft’ for the Digital Economy Future Directions Paper, Tom Worthington (Word, 37.5 kb)

Other Submissions

  1. .au Domain Administration auDA (PDF, 146.9 kb)
  2. Abigroup Telecommunications (Word, 365.5 kb)
  3. Alcatel Lucent (PDF, 99.7 kb)
  4. American Power Conversion APC (PDF, 77.1 kb)
  5. AUSTAR (PDF, 62.9 kb)
  6. Australasian Performing Right Association APRA Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society AMCOS (PDF, 889.3 kb)
  7. Australia Council Australia Council for the Arts (Word, 200.5 kb)
  8. Australian Association of National Advertisers AANA (PDF, 229.7 kb)
  9. Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC (PDF, 101.1 kb)
  10. Australian Bureau of Statistics ABS (Word, 164.0 kb)
  11. Australian Computer Society ACS (PDF, 77.9 kb)
  12. Australian Copyright Council (PDF, 313.0 kb)
  13. Australian Digital Alliance ADA (Word, 114.0 kb)
  14. Australian Direct Marketing Association ADMA (Word, 147.5 kb)
  15. Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft AFACT (PDF, 959.6 kb)
  16. Australian Industry Group Ai Group (Word, 78.5 kb)
  17. Australian Information Industry Association AIIA (PDF, 495.9 kb)
  18. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies AIATSIS (PDF, 56.0 kb)
  19. Australian Interactive Media Industry Association AIMIA (Word, 103.0 kb)
  20. Australian Libraries Copyright Committee ALCC (Word, 94.0 kb)
  21. Australian Library and Information Association ALIA (PDF, 316.3 kb)
  22. Australian Local Government Association ALGA (Word, 36.0 kb)
  23. Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association AMTA (Word, 144.5 kb)
  24. Australian National Data Service ANDS Monash University (Word, 312.5 kb)
  25. Australian Privacy Foundation (PDF, 100.8 kb)
  26. Australian Publishers Association APA (PDF, 168.6 kb)
  27. Australian Recording Industry Association ARIA (PDF, 117.8 kb)
  28. Australian Spatial Information Business Association ASIBA (PDF, 453.6 kb)
  29. Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association ASTRA (Word, 637.5 kb)
  30. Australian Visual Software Distributors Association AVSDA (PDF, 109.7 kb)
  31. Australias Academic and Research Network AARNet (PDF, 208.9 kb)
  32. Broadcast Australia - via Government Relations Australia lobbyists (Word, 341.5 kb)
  33. Business Information Systems, Faculty of Economics and Business, The University of Sydney (Word, 79.0 kb)
  34. Cisco (Word, 56.5 kb)
  35. City of Bunbury (Word, 39.0 kb)
  36. Collections Council of Australia CCA (Word, 184.5 kb)
  37. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation CSIRO (PDF, 129.2 kb)
  38. Communications Alliance (PDF, 79.9 kb)
  39. Communications Expert Group (PDF, 80.9 kb)
  40. Computers Off Australia (Word, 62.0 kb)
  41. Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia CORE (Word, 46.0 kb)
  42. Connecting Up Australia (PDF, 70.4 kb)
  43. Consumers Telecommunications Network (Word, 363.0 kb)
  44. Cooperative ResearchCentre- Spatial Information CRCSI (Word, 32.0 kb)
  45. Copyright Advisory Group of the Ministerial Council on Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs (PDF, 106.6 kb)
  46. Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) (PDF, 398.4 kb)
  47. Dean Economou (Word, 92.0 kb)
  48. Digital Economy Industry Work Group (PDF, 519.1 kb)
  49. Dr Paul Scully-Power (Word, 44.0 kb)
  50. Electronic Frontiers Australia (PDF, 127.8 kb)
  51. Engineers Australia (PDF, 239.0 kb)
  52. ET Corp (Word, 31.5 kb)
  53. Google (PDF, 189.4 kb)
  54. Government of South Australia Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (PDF, 132.1 kb)
  55. Government of South Australia Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology Attachment (Word, 444.5 kb)
  56. Hitachi Data Systems (PDF, 1.2 mb)
  57. IBM (Word, 35.5 kb)
  58. IBM Attachment - smarter energy grids ideas (PDF, 168.4 kb)
  59. IBM Attachment - smarter food ideas (PDF, 931.2 kb)
  60. IBM Attachment - smarter IT infrastructure ideas (PDF, 1000.2 kb)
  61. IBM Attachment - smarter planet ideas (PDF, 28.7 kb)
  62. IBM Attachment - smarter retail ideas (PDF, 625.3 kb)
  63. IBM Attachment - smarter traffic ideas (PDF, 345.3 kb)
  64. International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical STM Publishers (PDF, 156.2 kb)
  65. International Intellectual Property Alliance IIPA (PDF, 249.5 kb)
  66. Internet Industry Association IIA (PDF, 66.4 kb)
  67. Internet Society of Australia ISOC-AU (PDF, 202.5 kb)
  68. Juniper Networks (PDF, 77.5 kb)
  69. Kidnapillai Selvarajah (Word, 45.5 kb)
  70. Lockstep (PDF, 105.6 kb)
  71. Lonely Planet (Word, 79.0 kb)
  72. Microsoft (PDF, 716.5 kb)
  73. Microsoft Attachment -Laws of Identity (PDF, 328.0 kb)
  74. Microsoft Attachment- Establishing End to End Trust (PDF, 106.0 kb)
  75. Multimedia Victoria (Word, 107.5 kb)
  76. Netchoice (PDF, 61.5 kb)
  77. NICTA (Word, 89.5 kb)
  78. NT Department of Business and Employment (PDF, 229.5 kb)
  79. Office of the Privacy Commissioner (PDF, 266.9 kb)
  80. Open Source Industry Australia (PDF, 372.8 kb)
  81. Owen Thomas (Word, 33.5 kb)
  82. Paul Budde Communication (PDF, 58.4 kb)
  83. Pearcey Foundation (PDF, 415.1 kb)
  84. Professor Caelli (PDF, 437.5 kb)
  85. Public Sector Mapping Agencies PSMA (Word, 40.6 kb)
  86. Qualcomm (PDF, 148.8 kb)
  87. Queensland State Government Chief Information Office (PDF, 43.3 kb)
  88. Queensland University of Technology QUT Law Faculty (PDF, 334.4 kb)
  89. Screen Australia (Word, 220.0 kb)
  90. Screen Producers Association of Australia SPAA (Word, 163.5 kb)
  91. Screenrights (PDF, 89.3 kb)
  92. Sensis (PDF, 49.3 kb)
  93. Simon Fenton - Jones (Word, 35.5 kb)
  94. Smartnet (PDF, 269.9 kb)
  95. Society for Knowledge Economics (PDF, 416.0 kb)
  96. SONY (PDF, 165.8 kb)
  97. Special Broadcast Service SBS (PDF, 43.1 kb)
  98. Standards Australia (PDF, 61.1 kb)
  99. State Library of Queensland (Word, 42.0 kb)
  100. Switch Media (Word, 36.5 kb)
  101. TAM Computing (Word, 26.5 kb)
  102. Telecommunications and Disability Consumer Representation TEDICORE (Word, 140.0 kb)
  103. Telstra Attachment - Joint submission 1 Telstra, Verizon business, Internode, iinet, Optus and Westnet (Word, 295.0 kb)
  104. Telstra Main submission (PDF, 131.3 kb)
  105. Tom Koltai (PDF, 458.1 kb)
  106. Tom Worthington (Word, 37.5 kb)
  107. Universities Australia (PDF, 69.0 kb)
  108. University of New England (Word, 733.5 kb)
  109. Unwired (PDF, 323.7 kb)
  110. Vision Australia (Word, 80.5 kb)
  111. WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PDF, 384.9 kb)
  112. WebSafe Security Pty Ltd (PDF, 33.8 kb)
  113. West Gippsland Regional Library Corporation (Word, 35.0 kb)
  114. Wikimedia Australia (PDF, 136.0 kb)
  115. Yahoo! (PDF, 740.9 kb)

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

UK to Get 2Mb/s Universal Broadband

Digital Britain: The Interim ReportThe UK Government released "Digital Britain: The Interim Report" 29 January 2009. The report sets five objectives for the UK: Upgrading digital networks, better investment climate for UK digital industries, quality digital content, universal broadband access, and e-Government. The headline objective is universal broadband at up to 2Mb/s. This is much slower than the 12 Mb/s the Australian Government promised to deliver using FTTN. However, the Australian Government is unlikely to be able to deliver on its promise and the UK figure seems more feasible, as does delivery by a mix of wireless and wired services. It is likely the Australian Government will have to water down its promise to something like the UK proposal within the next few weeks.

The contribution of ICT to a Low Carbon Economy is mentioned in the report, but not given the prominence it deserves. The emphasis on digital broadcast technologies, such as DAB seems a little old fashioned and misplaced (DAB being a very limited one way pre-Internet technology). The use of a graphic of what appears to be a USB flash drive seems at odds with the report's emphasis on digital telecommunications. The report makes an interesting contrast with the Australian Government's recent Digital Economy Future Directions Paper.

Available are:
The full report is provided in MS-Word as well as PDF. The individual sections of the report are also in PDF.
It is unfortunate that the report was not made available in an easy to read HTML format. Here is the text of the introduction:
Introduction and Executive Summary

Around the world digital and broadband technologies are reshaping our Communications, Entertainment, Information and Knowledge industries, the wider economy, and the way of life for all of us.We are at a point of transformation. The success of our manufacturing and services industries will increasingly be defined by their ability to use and develop digital technologies. A successful Britain must be a Digital Britain.
Digital technology has led to a quiet revolution over the past decade in our lives at work, at home and at leisure. Many of us now take for granted a world of constant communication; of large-scale data transfer from home to work and vice versa, leading to new, more transport-efficient and family-friendly patterns of working; hundreds of television and radio channels; user-generated content; instant connectedness with virtual communities of interest and friendship; and keeping extended family networks in touch with images as well as words.

The Communications Sector is one of the three largest sectors in our economy alongside energy and financial services. The UK’s digital economy accounts for around 8% of GDP. It has been one of the fastest growing successes of the past decade. We pioneered digital television and radio and have led the way in a national switchover programme. Our take up of first generation broadband has grown faster than that of almost all the other major economies. Britain has the highest proportion of internet advertising of any developed economy. By 2012 £1 in every £5 of all new commerce in this country will be online.

More importantly, the digital economy underpins our whole economy and builds our national competitiveness. Our readiness to adopt digital technology has driven productivity gains throughout our wider economy. Over the last ten years the UK has been consistently closing its historic productivity gap with the other leading European economies, based largely on our take-up and adoption of digital technology.
But our productivity still lags well behind the USA and we face new challenges from the innovative companies of the successful Asian economies. At their best, they combine fierce competition, providing innovation and consumer services, with a regulatory framework that balances the value of investment in the next generation of technologies against the benefits for the consumer of a competitive market place.

So Britain’s competitive position as a user and producer of digital technology cannot be taken for granted. In the USA, the development of the digital economy, deployment of modern networks and universal broadband internet access are a central part of the new Administration’s programme. The French Government has launched an ambitious reform strategy for their Communications Sector. The European Commission’s global league table of digital adoption, skills and use shows that the UK, having been in the top seven earlier in the decade, has slipped to twelfth place.

Against this backdrop, this report assesses the UK’s readiness fully to exploit the dramatic shift to digital technology as the basis of huge parts of our economy and private lives. This revolution is only a decade old - still in its infancy. Our demands and expectations of it will rise at an accelerating pace. Are we positioned to meet those demands and expectations?

The first, crucial conclusion of the analysis we have done shows that, as a country, we must ensure that our wired and wireless communications and broadcasting networks can meet the demands of a modern knowledge-based economy. Much work has already been undertaken, but over the next five years we will need to upgrade these networks in order to maintain our position and meet our ambitions.

This makes the need for an active and strategic approach from government indispensable if we are to close the gap. We need to plan now, identify the market failures that are standing in the way of a full roll out of digital infrastructure in the UK, and act swiftly in Government to help the market in the timely delivery of the high-capability infrastructure we will need. This industrial activism from government will be critical to ensuring that the UK gets the most out of the digital economy.
The growing global focus on digital technology
President Obama’s technology-based American presidential campaign changed the face of US elections and the new President has made it clear that he sees both technology and a strong communications infrastructure as vital to economic recovery and growth. This includes a radical approach to the deployment of a modern communications infrastructure, including redefining universal service to extend its scope to broadband and unleashing the power of the wireless radio spectrum.

The President’s digital ambition is being replicated across the globe. The French Government has recently launched its France Numerique 2012 plan, an ambitious communications sector strategy designed to strengthen France’s digital position and enhance its broader competitiveness at a time of global economic slowdown and crisis. The message laid out in the plan is clear: the digital economy is the most dynamic sector in the world and as the global recession bites, it is essential to nurture those parts of the economy that can generate growth potential and jobs.
This is not simply a question of economic competitiveness, but also of fairness. We are at the point of technology development where we need a programme to ensure that everyone can connect to the digital economy, that its benefits and advantages are available to all. This means ensuring that all have access to the skills to participate effectively; and that the content and services available give everyone a good reason to take part.

The digital society offers us, as citizens, increased access to information, participation and influence, not least in the democratic process – the recent Presidential Election in the USA was the first to be decided as much online as offline. In addition to news and democratic participation, the digital world gives individuals scope for a broader and richer range of public service content than ever before, that truly informs and educates as well as entertains.

The necessary education, skills and media literacy programmes to allow everyone in society to benefit from the digital revolution will be a central part of the Digital Britain work and key to our success. We must ensure that being digital is within the grasp of everyone. If we do not, we risk leaving significant parts of our society disenfranchised and permanently behind the mainstream. In so doing, we would fail to secure the full potential of these technologies for our country.

It is important for the UK that we enjoy content over digital networks that relates to our culture and experiences as a society and informs us as citizens in a democracy. In practice, this means content generated in the UK for UK consumers, and plural sources of informed, accurate and impartial news, as well as of informed comment and analysis. The market will always provide some of this content, but we need to decide what else we require, and make policy decisions to achieve that. What do we, as a society, expect and require, and what institutions and policies will best deliver it?

Today, Britain has a range of institutions and interventions mostly designed for the analogue age. To date, only the BBC has the reach, the strategic and operational capability, and the funding to be a provider of such content at scale across the digital landscape. In this interim report, we examine the scope for other modern interventions that could provide for plural British digital content and the possibility of a new organisation of the scale and reach needed for the multi-media, multi-platform digital world, able to work alongside the BBC but with a distinct role.

At the same time, we need to ensure that Britain is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities around innovation in new media content. Our track record in creativity and technical innovation in existing media provides an excellent base, but this needs to be married to development of business models that enable content creators to flourish on new platforms. We must also have the research and development programmes that will help us maintain our position.

For us as a society, digital technology also offers the prospect of more effective delivery of wider public services in terms of quality of service, connectivity and reach for the individual – as users of online services today, from NHS Direct to the DVLA’s Car Tax Renewal Service, can attest.

Equally important, the digital society can offer more efficient public service delivery. This will be crucial in an era of very tight constraints on public spending in the years to come, with an additional £5m of efficiences announced in the 2008 Pre-Budget Report. Using the money in the service rather than its delivery is a major benefit for both the user and the taxpayer.

Delivering Digital Britain will require an ambitious and clear strategic vision from Government and a new and stronger sense of co-operation between Government, regulators and industry. We will play our part to ensure open and effective government, including ensuring, through bodies such as the Information Age Partnership, Government and industry have regular, open and constructive fora for discussion.

The Information Age Partnership
The Information Age Partnership (IAP) is a partnership for action between industry and Government, comprising Ministers and Chief Executives of the UK’s leading IT, Electronics, Communications and Content companies.

The purpose of the IAP is to ensure that ICT is effectively deployed to accelerate innovation and productivity growth across the economy and to impact directly on the priorities of small and medium sized businesses. This helps the UK to take maximum global advantage of the technological, economic and political developments that characterise the information age and can drive the UK’s economic recovery.

We believe that the Information Age Partnership will become an even more important and valuable forum for engagement between Government and industry, with a mission to ensure that the promise of Digital Britain is realised.
We need a comprehensive programme for Digital Britain: a programme that has five objectives for 2012 which drive the analysis and proposals in this Interim Report.

Digital Britain: Five objectives
  • Upgrading and modernising our digital networks – wired, wireless and broadcast – so that Britain has an infrastructure that enables it to remain globally competitive in the digital world;
  • A dynamic investment climate for UK digital content, applications and services, that makes the UK an attractive place for both domestic and inward investment in our digital economy;
  • UK content for UK users: content of quality and scale that serves theinterests, experiences and needs of all UK citizens; in particular impartialnews, comment and analysis;
  • Fairness and access for all: universal availability coupled with the skills and digital literacy to enable near-universal participation in the digital economy and digital society; and
  • Developing the infrastructure, skills and take-up to enable the widespread online delivery of public services and business interface with Government.
Readers of this interim report will see that there are varying levels of detail and analysis in the different sections of the report. This is inevitable in an interim report and reflects the fact that there are some areas, where the problems are pressing, where existing knowledge of the issues, informed in particular by previous reviews and the work of Ofcom among others, have allowed us to move forward faster in our thinking and policy development. There are areas where this interim report reflects emerging findings; and those areas where we need to undertake much wider consultation and consideration, including across Government, before we bring forward detailed recommendations to provide a more comprehensive programme for Digital Britain. The process to date has been far from exhaustive. There are many aspects of this vital sector and its wider linkages to our economy and society that we only touch on – from smart grid technology to the links between the Knowledge Economy and a Low Carbon Economy, to the specifics of the next generation delivery of public services online.

Based on the five objectives above the main actions set out in this report are as follows:

Digital Networks
In relation to Next Generation Access Networks, we propose a number of specific actions:

We will establish a Government-led strategy group to assess the necessary demand-side, supply-side and regulatory measures to underpin existing market-led investment plans, and to remove barriers to the timely rollout, beyond those declared plans, to maximise market-led coverage of Next Generation broadband. This Strategy Group will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, assess the case for how far market-led investment by Virgin Media, BT Group plc and new network enterprises will take the UK in terms of roll-out and likely take-up; and whether any contingency measures, as recommended by the Caio review, are necessary.

Between now and the final Digital Britain Report, the Government will, while recognising existing investments in infrastructure, work with the main operators and others to remove barriers to the development of a wider wholesale market in access to ducts and other primary infrastructure.

The Valuation Office Agency has provided new, clear guidance which addresses the problem of clarity over business rates identified by Francesco Caio in his report, and will ensure that they respond to any queries from existing and new investors and maintain clear, helpful guidance. For its part, the Government will ensure that the guidance is widely understood by potential investors.

We will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, have considered the value for money case for whether public incentives have a part to play in enabling further next generation broadband deployment, beyond current market-led initiatives.

The Government will help implement the Community Broadband Network’s proposals for an umbrella body to bring together all the local and community networks and provide them with technical and advisory support.

In relation to existing and Next Generation Mobile Wireless Networks:

We are specifying a Wireless Radio Spectrum Modernisation Programme consisting of five elements:
  1. Resolving the future of existing 2G radio spectrum through a structured framework, allowing existing operators to re-align their existing holdings, re-use the spectrum and start the move to next generation mobile services. This must be achieved whilst maintaining a competitive market. If this can be done, the economic value of the spectrum would be enhanced. Existing administered incentive pricing (AIP) levels would be adjusted to reflect that enhancement. The Government believes that an industry-agreed set of radio spectrum trades could represent a better and quicker solution than an imposed realignment. There is an opportunity for industry to agree a way forward by the end of April 2009. In the absence of an industry-agreed trading solution by then, Government will support an imposed solution.
  2. Making available more radio spectrum suitable for next generation mobile services. Ofcom has proposed the release of the so-called 3G expansion band at 2.6GHz. The Government will support proposals from Ofcom to play a key role in a pan-European alignment of the Digital Dividend Review Spectrum (the so-called Channel 61-69 band), being released by the progressive switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting, pioneered by the UK. This will free up radio spectrum particularly valuable for next generation mobile services.
  3. Greater investment certainty for existing 3G operators: The Government wishes to encourage the maximum commercially-sensible investment in network capacity and coverage. But the further into a fixed term licence one goes the greater the disincentive to invest. We want to resolve this issue now as part of the structured framework. As part of the structured trading framework existing time-limited licences could be made indefinite and subject instead to AIP beyond the end of the current term. If this were achieved the Government would look to ensure that the AIP then set reflected the spectrum’s full economic value and hence would capture over time the return equivalent to the proceeds that would have been realised in the market from an auction for a licence of the same period.
  4. Greater network sharing: the Government and Ofcom will consider further network sharing, spectrum or carrier-sharing proposals from the operators, particularly where these can lead to greater coverage and are part of the mobile operator’s contribution to a broadband universal service commitment.
  5. Commitments by the mobile operators to push out the coverage of mobile broadband eventually to replicate 2G coverage and mark their significant contribution to the broadband universal service commitment.
In relation to Digital Television Networks:

We will consider at what point and at what cost the standard offer provided by the Digital Television Switchover Help Scheme could have a return path capability, and we will ensure that such capability is available as an option.

We will examine how the marketing and communications activity around Digital Switchover could be enhanced to use the region-by-region programme of publicly funded information and advice on one form of digital transition to provide impartial information on wider opportunities of digital beyond digital broadcast television.

In relation to Digital Radio Networks:
We will take action to support DAB digital radio in seven areas:
  1. We are making a clear statement of Government and policy commitment to enabling DAB to be a primary distribution network for radio;
  2. We will create a plan for digital migration of radio, which the Government intends to put in place once the following criteria have been met:
    • When 50% of radio listening is digital;
    • When national DAB coverage is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches 90% of population and all major roads.
  3. We will create a Digital Radio Delivery Group which includes the retailers, the Transmission Networks, the BBC, the Commercial Radio Companies, the Car Manufacturers, consumer representatives and the device manufacturers, whose role would be to increase the attractiveness, availability and affordability of DAB and to advise on the Digital Migration Plan.
  4. We will work with the BBC to explore how they could extend their digital radio coverage to replicate at least current FM analogue coverage.
  5. As recommended by the Digital Radio Working Group, we will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of digital migration.
  6. We will consult on new legislation to allow a one-off five-year extension of existing community radio licences, to bring them in line with other radio licences and recognise the important role they have in delivering social gain. We also intend to re-consider the rationale for the current restriction of 50% of funding from any one source.
  7. We will commission an independent expert examination of the economic viability, continuing social contribution of, and most effective delivery methods for, local radio services and the relevance of the existing localness legislation.
Digital Content

In relation to the Economics of Digital Content:

In the final report we will examine measures needed to address the challenges for digital content in more detail, including opportunities for providing further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding mechanisms to advertising revenues.

In relation to Rights and Distribution:

By the time the final Digital Britain Report is published the Government will have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.

Before the final Digital Britain Report is published we will explore with both distributors and rights-holders their willingness to fund, through a modest and proportionate contribution, such a new approach to civil enforcement of copyright (within the legal frameworks applying to electronic commerce, copyright, data protection and privacy) to facilitate and co-ordinate an industry response to this challenge. It will be important to ensure that this approach covers the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention work.

Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights (subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights-holders) that their conduct is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our proposals in detail.

In relation to the provision of Original UK Content:

To inform whether any change to the merger regime is yet desirable or necessary in relation to the local and regional media sector, the Government will invite the OFT, together with Ofcom and other interested parties, to undertake an exploratory review across the local and regional media sector and make appropriate recommendations.

The existing Terms of Trade between the independent producers and broadcasters have worked well. In light of new entrants to the market, new business models and new distribution channels, it makes sense to have a forward look at how the relationship between independent producers and those who commission their ideas could evolve.

This review will focus on the appropriate rights holding agreements and definitions required for a multi-platform digital future, on the overall health of the sector and on continuing to ensure that viewers, listeners and users get the best and most innovative content and programming.

In the final Digital Britain Report, we will establish whether a long-term and sustainable second public service organisation providing competition for quality to the BBC can be defined and designed, drawing in part on Channel 4’s assets and a re-cast remit. It would be a body with public service at its heart, but one which is able to develop flexible and innovative partnerships with the wider private and public sector. While it makes sense to begin by looking at public sector bodies- Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide- the Government is currently evaluating a range of options and organisational solutions for achieving such an outcome.

Universal Connectivity

In relation to Network Universal Connectivity on Digital Networks:

We will develop plans for a digital Universal Service Commitment to be effective by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed and mobile, wired and wireless means. Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s.

We will develop detailed proposals for the design and operation of a new, more broadly-based scheme to fund the Universal Service Commitment for the fully digital age – including who should contribute and its governance and accountability structures.

In relation to the take-up of universally available broadband:

We will encourage the development of public service champions of universal take-up. The Digital Inclusion Action Plan recommended the appointment of a Digital Inclusion Champion and expert taskforce to drive the Government’s work on digital inclusion. Clearly, the work of the Champion will be important in encouraging take-up.

We are inviting the BBC to play a leading role, just as it has in digital broadcast, through marketing, cross-promotion and provision of content to drive interest in taking up broadband. With other public service organisations, the BBC can drive the development of platforms with open standards available to all content providers and device manufacturers alike.

A Public Service Delivery plan: we commit to ensure that public services online are designed for ease of use by the widest range of citizens, taking advantage of the widespread uptake of broadband to offer an improved customer experience and encourage the shift to online channels in delivery and service support.

Equipping everyone to benefit from Digital Britain

In relation to Digital Media Literacy:

The current statutory and specific remit on Media Literacy is contained within s.11 of the Communications Act 2003. As this report makes clear, since 2003 there have been significant market changes in the availability of digital technologies and how they are used. We will ask Ofcom to make an assessment of its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy and, working with the BBC and others, to recommend a new definition and ambition for a National Media Literacy Plan.

This interim report sets out the background to these actions and the analysis on which they are based, as well as providing more detail on how we intend to fulfil them.

I am grateful to the Expert Advisers on the Steering Board and the many stakeholders who have given so generously of their time to produce these emerging findings and proposals and to the project team who have worked tirelessly since last Autumn.

From: Section 1: Introduction & Executive Summary, Digital Britain: The Interim Report, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Page 1
The Stationery Office (TSO), UK Government, ISBN: 9 78 010175 4828, 29 January 2009

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