Digital Economy Bill 2016
Summary of the Digital Economy Bill
The Digital Economy Bill would implement a number of Government policies, broadly related to the digital economy. The Bill:
- covers the provision of fast broadband services through a new ‘Universal Broadband Obligation’ entitling consumers to a minimum speed, enhances switching and compensation for communication services, and a new Electronic Communications Code to deal with phone and internet infrastructure, making the roll-out of new infrastructure cheaper and subject to simplified regulation;
- provides for greater data sharing between public bodies for certain purposes and in certain circumstances. Datasets may be shared to support public service delivery and in relation to public sector debt and fraud, and to produce research and official statistics. There are also specific provisions for sharing data related to civil registration;
- updates intellectual property rules for digital industries;
- introduces age verification for online pornography with penalties for non-compliance;
- introduces a new statutory code for direct marketing to strengthen enforcement action; and
- updates the regulation of the BBC by making OFCOM responsible for the regulation of all BBC activities; the Bill also transfers to the BBC from the Secretary of State the ability to make concessions on TV licences relating to age (following the transfer of the cost of free over-75 licences).
The Bill extends to the whole of the UK with two exceptions: sharing data in relation to civil registration does not apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while the provisions for sharing energy supplier data do not apply in Northern Ireland.
Follow the progress of the Digital Economy Bill
The Bill was presented to the House on 5 July 2016. On Tuesday 13 September, the Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons where MPs debated the main principles of the Bill.
The Bill has now been sent to the Public Bill Committee where detailed examination of the Bill will take place. The Bill Committee is expected to hold oral evidence sessions on Tuesday 11 October.
Guidance on submitting written evidence
Deadline for written evidence submissions
The Public Bill Committee is now able to receive written evidence. The sooner you send in your submission, the more time the Committee will have to take it into consideration.
The Committee is expected to meet for the first time on Tuesday 11 October 2016; it will stop receiving written evidence at the end of the Committee stage on Thursday 27 October 2016. Please note that when the Committee reports it is no longer able to receive written evidence and it can report earlier than the expected deadline of 5.00pm on Tuesday 1 November 2016.
What should written evidence cover?
Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.
Your submission could most usefully:
- suggest amendments to the Bill with explanation; and
- (when available, probably from September) support or oppose amendments tabled or proposed to the Bill by others with explanation
It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere. If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).
How should written evidence be submitted?
Your submission should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee. Submissions should be in the form of a Word document. A summary should be provided. Paragraphs should be numbered, but there should be no page numbering.
Essential statistics or further details can be added as annexes, which should also be numbered. To make publication easier, please avoid the use of coloured graphs, complex diagrams or pictures. As a guideline, submissions should not exceed 3,000 words.
Please include in the covering email the name, address, telephone number and email address of the person responsible for the submission. The submission should be dated.
What will happen to my evidence?
The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee Members to inform their consideration of the Bill. Most submissions will also be published on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting. Material received in September and early October should therefore be published after 11 October.
The Scrutiny Unit can help with any queries about written evidence.
Scrutiny Unit contact details
Telephone: 020 7219 8387
Address: Ian Hook
Senior Executive Officer
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA