Digital Britain: Is that it?

The Digital Britain report is out, and I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath waiting for it. Ian has summarised the main recommendations, which appear to consist of propping up unsustainable copyright models for the recording industry, and throwing a freebie in the direction of 3G network operators in the form of an indefinite operating license extension. Oh, and a 50p a month poll tax on fixed connections to pay for rural rollout.

I guess we probably shouldn’t be surprised at such a spectacularly underwhelming and unimaginative approach; after all, innovation is hardly the flavour of the month in the present government, and there would be little appetite to upset major industrial interests. But the fact that the document completely disregards the need for a trustworthy identity management infrastructure, and whilst it pays lip service to privacy, it ignores the importance of privacy as a core strategy objective, instead favouring the need to track down file sharers and expose individuals’ details when major corporations ask for them.

I’m sure there’s probably some good stuff there in areas that are of less interest to me, but the fact that Lord Carter’s review fails to consider the reasons that people don’t want to go online – fear of fraud, loss of privacy, uncertainty about to whom they can turn when things go wrong – shows that once again government policy has abandoned the needs of the user in favour of the needs of the state.

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