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ISPA UK Doubts EU Can Deliver Digital Single Market Policy On Time

Thursday, July 9th, 2015 (2:02 pm) - Score 508
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The UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has warned that Europe’s attempts to introduce a new Digital Single Market strategy by the end of 2016, which covers everything from tackling “illegal” Internet content to boosting investment in faster broadband or mobile networks, is in “serious danger” of missing its target.

The strategy, which among many other things hopes to establish one set of rules to regulate 28 different telecommunications markets, was first officially set out during early May 2015 (here).

Since then it’s been complemented by the final and somewhat diminished Single Telecoms Market proposals (here), which also come under the same banner and reflect new measures to end mobile roaming charges and defend Net Neutrality.

However the ISPA recently debated some of these issues with a cross section of legal and policy experts at a Kemp Little LLP event on 7th July and they indicated that there was still a lot of work left to do, with not much time left in order to achieve it all.

Pete Farmer, Director at the ITSPA and Head of Regulatory Affairs at Gamma, suggested that the idea of having a single set of rules for so many markets was unworkable. Farmer also noted that UK was far more liberalised than some other EU Member States, which could mean that the UK might actually go backwards in some areas.

Meanwhile Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis suggested that the EU was not paying sufficient attention to how consumers use communications services and that any new rules could quickly become out of date.

The panellists also looked at the proposals for tackling “illegal” Internet content, which among other things suggested that ISPs could exercise “greater responsibility and due diligence in the way they manage their networks and systems – a duty of care” (potentially turning ISPs into a police force). But the ISPA’s panellists felt as if it was “almost impossible to come up with one set of rules that could adequately regulate all types of content and companies in the Internet value chain.”

Nicholas Lansman, ISPA Secretary General, said:

This event shows that the European Commission needs to do its homework a bit more on these ambitious proposals. The UK communications market is fiercely competitive and a model for the rest of Europe. ISPA will be working with members, EuroISPA and the UK Government to make industry heard in negotiations around the Digital Single Market.”

But perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the Digital Single Market strategy is that the European Commission has yet to spell out exactly what rules will underpin their proposals and this lack of detail leaves a huge window of ambiguous uncertainty.

Lest we not forget that the last time Europe attempted to set a piece of bold new Internet policy they came up with the notorious waste of time that was Europe’s unworkable anti-cookie law, which appears to have achieved precious little save for bombarding millions of Internet uses with more annoying pop-ups.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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