The Government has introduced the Digital Economy Bill to Parliament in a move that should pave the way for the introduction of a new Broadband Universal Service Obligation – giving all homes and businesses the legal right to have a fast connection installed if they request it.

The Bill should also give consumers the power to switch suppliers with ease, including when they buy multiple services from a provider, and make sure providers properly compensate their customers when things go wrong.

Other key elements include:
•Protecting children from online pornography by requiring age verification for access to all pornographic sites and applications; enforcing penalties against spam emailers and nuisance callers unless consent has been given.
•Increase the sentencing options for people who infringe copyright laws online, bringing sentences into line with the current penalties available for “physical infringement”.
•Enabling registered design owners to give notice of their rights more cheaply and flexibly. The Bill will allow businesses to mark their designs with web addresses as a means of flagging the registered design rights they hold.

Royal Assent is expected in Spring 2017.

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