Digital Economy Bill 2016–17

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Digital Economy Bill 2016
Long title A bill to make provision about electronic communications infrastructure and services; to provide for restricting access to online pornography; to make provision about protection of intellectual property in connection with electronic communications; to make provision about data-sharing; to make provision about functions of OFCOM in relation to the BBC; to provide for determination by the BBC of age-related TV licence fee concessions; to make provision about the regulation of direct marketing; to make other provision about OFCOM and its functions; and for connected purposes.
Introduced by John Whittingdale
Territorial extent England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Other legislation
Relates to Digital Economy Act 2010
Status: Not yet in force
Text of statute as originally enacted

The Digital Economy Bill 2016–17 is a bill of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The bill addresses policy issues related to electronic communications infrastructure and services. It was introduced to Parliament by culture secretary John Whittingdale on 5 July 2016. Whittingdale was replaced as culture secretary by Karen Bradley on 14 July 2016.[1]


The provisions of the Bill include:[2]

  • Allowing Ofcom, the communications sector's regulator, to financially penalise communications providers for failing to comply with licence commitments.
  • Creating an age-verification regulator to publish guidelines about how pornographic websites should ensure their users are aged 18 or older. The regulated should also be able to fine those which fail to comply.
  • Creating a legal right to minimum Internet download speeds for consumers.
  • Requiring Internet service providers to provide compensation to consumers if service requirements are not met.
  • Allowing English and Welsh courts added sentencing options for Internet copyright infringement.
  • Providing for increased penalties for nuisance calls.
  • Giving Ofcom oversight of the BBC.


The Government expects the bill to complete its passage through the House of Commons during the Autumn 2016. It will then move to the House of Lords. The Government aims to achieve Royal Assent by the end of Spring 2017.[3]


The Open Rights Group have raised concerns over aspects of the bill. The provisions regarding copyright infringements were criticised for the vagueness of the definition and the severity of the maximum sentence (10 years in prison). The proposals for the age verification of pornographic website users caused concern regarding the privacy of collected user data and the possible ineffectiveness of a method focussed on restricting payments. The provisions for bulk data sharing raised concerns over the risk of misuse.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Digital Economy Bill 2016-17". UK Parliament. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "Digital Economy Bill: Networks and porn sites face fines". BBC News. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  3. ^ Mark Jackson (5 July 2016). "New UK Digital Economy Bill Details Broadband USO and Internet Changes". ISP review. Retrieved 31 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "Digital Economy Bill: Briefing To The House Of Commons On Second Reading". Open Rights Group. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016.