Queen's Speech 2013 – broadband business as usual

Queen's Speech 2013 – broadband business as usual

Today’s Queen’s Speech was, as expected, not full of surprises – both in a general sense and in relation to broadband and technology.

In the context of an overall political message to focus govermment activity in support of a strong, growing and competitive economy whilst building a fair society to reward people who work hard, the major legislative planks formed around immigration, pensions, social care and education.

No name-check to broadband in the Queen’s Speech, refecting the business as usual approach the government has taken for some time in respect of the ongoing programmes in support of broadband rollout.  No mention either to the Communications Bill where we are expecting a White Paper before the summer recess.

Three announcements are however of interest to those in the sector:

  • The Intellectual Property Bill will implement reforms on the intellectual property framework for design, following the Hargreaves Review
  • A Draft Consumer Rights Bill which will aim to update consumer protection with technological developments in respect of digital purchases
  • Proposals on the investigation of crime in cyberspace – including how to ensure police and other crime enforcement authorities have the right access to IP addresses

The latter announcement on cybercrime perhaps marks an attempt by the government to tackle this issue through a less blunt instrument than the Draft Communications Data Bill (so-called snooper’s charter) was perceived to be and we shall be tracking Home Office activity on this.

The Draft Consumer Rights Bill also looks like an interesting one.  It is quite right that protection is updated to reflect ever-increasing amounts of digital purchases, but there will be some thorny issues to think through in terms of who own the consumer relationship in light of any complaints when products involve software, hardware and a broadband connection of some sort.  One can expect these issues to be raised in the initial scrutiny that a draft Bill involves and again it will be one for us to watch.

What did you think about this year’s legislative programme?  Do let us know.