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Friday, July 27, 2012

Analyzing the UK Voluntary Code of Conduct: shadowing co-regulation?

The horse designed by a committee which is the Voluntary Code of Conduct on negative discrimination (net neutrality 'lite') is so voluntary that Voda, EE and Virgin won't sign up as the porridge is variously considered too hot/cold. It has some very interesting language that marks ISPs' attempt to show they have kowtowed to Ofcom's air shot across their bows from last November:
"The signatories to this code therefore believe that it is right that Ofcom take ownership of this issue and also believe that the new proposed process will be a useful input to Ofcom as it continues its work in monitoring the nature and impact of traffic management practices in the market and the effective co-existence of managed services and best efforts internet access.
"It is clear that the voluntary commitments being made in this code closely relate to ongoing monitoring work Ofcom has said that it will conduct. Signatories to this code are happy to discuss with Ofcom how its future work plans regarding open internet issues could support or input into a review of these voluntary commitments."
Not very edifying bit of horse-trading (or camel auctioning), is it? In fact, it's terribly reminiscent of the industry garbage being spouted about misleading advertising, over broadband speeds. The idea that content providers might lodge an unresolved complaint with the Broadband Stakeholder Group (see Annex 1) instead of going direct to Ofcom or the EC (or more likely a supportive Euro-MP) is frankly ludicrous - I predict now that there will be almost exactly zero such farcical reports from BSG to Ofcom in 2013.
When will Ofcom engage in heavier persuasion to persuade ISPs to come up with a workable solution? I suspect it will take a new minister at the very least, and possibly a new government, though the Labour Party's Harriet Harman's latest pronouncements on copyright send a shudder through anyone interested in consumer protection. Remember that the #DEAct was a cross-party Labour-originated move.
UPDATE: Skype sort of likes the Code, but adds that Ofcom should produce an Annual Open Internet Report (which in any case should be a future part of the EC Implementation Report as part of its commitments made to the European Parliament in the 2009 Net Neutrality Declaration). That's a much more likely place to report than the BSG.
'via Blog this'

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