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Lords report: define Internet access as a utility

Posted by malcolm on Monday, February 23rd, 2015 at 21:50

A House of Lords report has argued that the UK government should treat Internet access as a “public utility”.

The report, published by the Select Committee on Digital Skills, called on the government to ensure that “the population as a whole has unimpeded access to digital technology”.

Lucy Hastings from Age UK said: “… access to the internet should be treated as a utility service”. We agree. The Government should make it its ambition to ensure universal access for the entire population. If this could be achieved, the UK would be well-placed to achieve significant growth.

Commentators were quick to draw parallels with the American debate on Title II reclassification:

The House of Lords’ call for UK Internet access to be reclassified as a public utility is very similar to the conversation surrounding Title II reclassification of ISPs in the US. “We conclude that the Government should define the Internet as a utility service, available for all to access and use,” reads the summary of the House of Lords report. The report stops short of discussing how this will actually work in a legal sense—that’s probably up to the next UK government—but it does mention Estonia, which was the first country to add Internet access to its list of human rights, as a very good example to follow.
—  Sebastian Anthony, Ars Technica

However, the report does not appear to make any explicit calls for network neutrality regulation, instead focussing on greater government investment in Internet infrastructure, “digital literacy”, and cybersecurity.

For more information, see:

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