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Monday, May 06, 2013

UK proposed digital download law - with enormous unrecognised #netneutrality implications!

The UK government has provided a proposed piece of prosumer law legislation that is interesting, as illustrated by their case study - but is a backdoor for net neutrality! 
"A consumer buys an e-book that she downloads onto her computer. When she opens the e-book she finds that the text is illegible. The provider confirms there is no fault with the original digital file that was sent and suggests that the consumer does not have the right hardware. The consumer confirms that she has downloaded another e-book of the same format which works well on her computer. She also checks with her internet service provider that there were no interruptions during the time of the download. The provider agrees (why would they??!!) that there may have been a problem with the download (which we refer to as a ‘related service’). We propose either: [a] the download should be provided with reasonable care and skill. In this case to get redress the consumer would still have to prove that the trader did not provide the download service with reasonable care and skill; OR [b] the digital content should be of satisfactory quality once the download has taken place. In this case the consumer would have to prove that the digital content was not of satisfactory quality and that the problem was not due to their internet connection or hardware. The trader would then have to provide the consumer with redress regardless of whether they had provided the related service with reasonable care and skill."
How, pray, will the ISP satisfy everyone that it has provided an uninterrupted service at the point of download if it does any filtering or throttling at all? It's a net neutrality law! Graham Smith agrees:
Has thought about implications of refunds for 'faulty' (jittery) downloads? is


Ian Brown said...

The Internet part of this scenario is an irrelevant distraction. The e-book software should verify (using checksums and/or digital signatures) that the entire, correct, file has been downloaded, and if not should keep trying until it is

Ian Brown said...

The examples given in the Guardian article are better: "a consumer must receive a refund if an online game freezes or if a film stream is unwatchable even if the broadband connection is fine."

I suspect this law would encourage interactive content suppliers to develop software for the user's device that would monitor media playout and connection quality, so that suppliers could reject claims that resulted from hardware and ISP problems (and test hardware and connection before agreeing to supply the content).