WASHINTON, November 23, 2009 – British Internet service providers are alarmed by government efforts to enact legislation they claim would place an unfair burden on them to go after alleged copyright infringers online.
The U.K. Internet Services Providers’ Association said Friday they are concerned that legislation currently being considered would “penalize the success of the Internet industry and undermine the backbone of the digital economy.”
TalkTalk, one of the U.K.’s largest ISPs, said the proposed bill would enable the owners of copyrighted content to send “offending” internet protocol addresses to internet service providers in order to match the address to a broadband connection.
The ISP would then be asked to send out warning letters to account holders. If the broadband user continued to offend the copyright holder the ISP would be required to impose a penalty on the customer such as disconnecting the user from the Internet.
The British ISPA said it was “disappointed at the threat of technical measures and calls for the reserve powers, which include the imposition of technical sanctions on users, to be dropped from the bill. ISPA members believe measures such as filtering would be ineffective, expensive, difficult to implement and could have unintended consequences such as restricting access to legitimate services.”
The U.K. government “considers it appropriate for ISPs to be reimbursed for costs incurred when assisting in serious criminal investigations, such as terrorism or kidnap, but not for costs incurred pursuing an alleged civil infringement on behalf of a commercial interest,” said Nicholas Lansman of ISPA.
Last week the first reading of the bill took place before the House of Lords. The date of the next reading of the legislation has not been announced.
ISPA “members believe that an obligation must be placed on rightsholders to pursue targeted legal action against persistent infringers. ISPA supports the view of consumer groups that strong deterrents already exist, such as the threat of litigation in the courts, and thinks that this should be recognized in the legislation,” it states. The group further said rightsholders should shoulder some of the financial burden and reimburse ISPs for any reasonable costs.
“ISPs provide timely and accurate assistance to law enforcement with serious criminal investigations, under a system of cost recovery, and therefore should not incur costs for pursuing alleged civil infringements,” the group said.
The group said the bill gives too much control to the Secretary of State who would have the power to make “specific recommendations on costs and impose an obligation on ISPs to use technical sanctions.” An independent oversight body would be a better option, ISPA holds.
TalkTalk wrote in a blog entry Friday that the bill is a “backward step in the efforts to reduce illegal filesharing while further threatening the rights of the consumer” by giving the government the ability “to punish people they think are infringing copyright without having to prove their case in court.”
“It doesn’t matter how many websites are blocked, how many services are shut down or how many individuals are pursued, people will always find ways to access copyrighted content for free,” stated Charles Dunstone, CEO of TalkTalk.
Dunstone said his company “believes that to reduce illegal filesharing, music and film fans must be encouraged back to legal services through education and by making content available in a form and at a price that people find acceptable.”
In the meantime, TalkTalk pledged to its customers, “If we are instructed to disconnect your account due to alleged copyright infringement we will refuse to do so and tell the rightsholders we’ll see them in court.”
According to recent news reports in the U.S., Verizon Communications has agreed to forward copyright violation notices on behalf of Hollywood studios such as NBC Universal.
Digital Inclusion Leaders a Critical Step to Closing Digital Divide: National League of Cities
The National League of Cities said government leaders need to have ‘multiple points of engagement’ with communities.
WASHINGTON, January 20, 2022 – To understand the digital divide, cities need to include digital equity leaders in their broadband needs assessment programs, the National League of Cities said at an event on community connectivity challenges Wednesday.
A broadband needs assessment would allow city leaders to explore the extent of the digital divide in their communities, said Lena Geraghty, the National League of Cities’ director of urban innovation.
“[A needs assessment] enable city leaders to dig into who’s being excluded, what’s currently available in your city, and what solutions city leaders can use” to close the digital divide, she said.
“The community is going to know best about where access exists, where gaps exist, and the needs that will make connectivity better,” Geraghty said. To get the best picture of a community’s need, stakeholders must find and include the community’s digital equity leaders in the data-gathering process, she added.
“These could be people that are knowledgeable about digital equity or people that are experiencing the digital divide,” she said. “Think really broadly about what it means to be a leader and the type of information these folks can bring to bear in solving the digital divide in your communities.”
Geraghty said it may be useful to formalize the leaders’ work by creating a broadband working group or ad hoc committee led by the city’s government. “Giving some roles and responsibilities can help everyone move in the same in direction, there’s agreement, and really clear goals and outcomes.”
Geraghty added that it’s important for government leaders to establish multiple points of engagement for the community. “It’s not enough to gather data or information from people once,” she said. “The state of access to the internet and devices is always changing,” so leaders should create multiple touch points for community input.
The National League of Cities released its Digital Equity Playbook for cities in December, walking readers through how they can promote digital equity in their cities. The playbook has a four-step process on how to get started with digital equity.
By walking readers through the process of connecting with the community, evaluating the connectivity landscape, gathering foundational information and reporting on findings, city leaders will be prepared to target broadband funding to unserved and underserved areas in their communities.
FCC Commissioner Starks Says Commission Looking into Impact of Broadband, 5G on Environment
Starks sat down to discuss the promise of smart grid technology for the environment.
WASHINGTON, January 19, 2022 – Former and current leaders within the Federal Communications Commission agreed Thursday that it is important to make sure the FCC’s broadband efforts support the nation’s goals for the environment.
On Thursday, during a Cooley law firm fireside chat event, Robert McDowell, a former FCC director, and current FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks discussed how broadband expansion and next-generation 5G mobile networks will affect the environment.
Starks said that the commission is currently focusing on answering that exact question and are evaluating the current attempts to protect the environment, as more money is expected from the federal government and as broadband infrastructure expands. That includes putting more fiber into the ground and erecting more cell towers, but also allowing for a broadband-enabled smart grid system that will make automated decisions on energy allocation.
Smart grid systems, for example, provide real-time monitoring of the energy used in the electrical system. These systems can help to reduce consumption and carbon emissions, Starks said, by rerouting excess power and addressing power outages instantaneously in the most efficient and environmentally friendly manner. The smart grid systems will monitor “broadband systems in the 900 MHz band,” said Starks.
Starks also noted the Senate’s “Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation” initiative, which would set apart $500 million for cities across America so they can begin working on ways to lower carbon emissions.
FCC also focused on digital discrimination
Starks said the commission is also focusing on “making sure that there is no digital discrimination on income level, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin,” and that it all comes down to funding and who needs the money.
He stated that the first step is to finalize the maps and data that have been collected so funding can be targeted to the areas and people that need it the most. Many have remarked that the $65 billion allocated to broadband from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will not be divvied out until adequate maps are put in place.
Starks noted that broadband subsidy program Lifeline, although fundamental to some people’s lives, is significantly underutilized. Starks stated that participation rates hover around 20 percent, which led the FCC to explore other options while attempting to make Lifeline more effective. For example, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – which provides monthly broadband subsidies – has been replaced by the Affordable Connectivity Program, a long-term and revised edition of the pandemic-era program.
Starks and McDowell also stated their support for the confirmation by the Senate of Alan Davidson as the permanent head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and expressed that Davidson will be a key player in these efforts.
CES 2022: Public-Private Partnerships Key to Building Smart Cities, Tech leaders Say
Public-private partnerships will increase the community benefit of infrastructure projects, leaders at Qualcomm and Verizon said.
LAS VEGAS, January 12, 2022––Telecommunications industry leaders said Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show that public-private partnerships will pave the way to realizing the future of smart cities.
Raymond Bauer, director of the domain specialist group that connects governments to Verizon’s telecommunications services, said the government needs private partners to improve its infrastructure efforts.
Referencing the recent passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Bauer said governments should look forward to partnering with private technology companies to improve upcoming infrastructure projects.
“There’s a once in a lifetime opportunity from IIJA,” Bauer said. “We should find common ways to work in a way we haven’t in the past. There are certain goals and use cases to leverage the infrastructure we have,” he said.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan legislation funds physical and digital infrastructure projects, including $65 billion for the expansion of broadband across the country.
Bauer said communities have a chance to monetize the services Verizon offers to communities if Verizon builds infrastructure for broadband access in underserved areas. “By bridging the digital divide, underserved communities get the services they need,” he added.
Ashok Tipirneni, head of smart cities and connected spaces at Qualcomm, said that cities should be thinking about how technology can improve much-needed infrastructure projects.
“Cities are growing faster than available utility,” he said, citing global issues of housing, water, and equity for vulnerable populations. “How do we ensure access for all citizens? And how can cities be in lock step with new technology, whatever it is?” he asked.
Qualcomm’s Smart Cities Accelerator Program delivers internet of things ecosystem products and services to member cities and local governments.
“New Orleans, Miami, and Los Angeles has local governments asking how they can do better,” he said. “They offer opportunities for partnerships that wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago.”
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