Digital minister Matt Hancock signs into law act intended to promote connectivity across the country and make the online world safe for children
The Digital Economy Act will better protect children and consumers, the government said Credit: Adobe Stock
Digital minister Matt Hancock has claimed that the Digital Economy Act, which passed into law this week, will “underpin a radical transformation of government services”.
The government also said that the new legislation will improve connectivity for citizens across the country – particularly those in remote areas.
Hancock has signed the act’s commencement order, and the government is now set to begin work on identifying and implementing measures to reduce the cost of building digital infrastructure. Planning procedures will also be simplified, boosting access to connectivity throughout the nation, but particularly “in some of the hardest to reach places in the UK”.
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“The Digital Economy Act is about building a strong, safe and connected economy,” Hancock said. “It will secure better support for consumers, better protection for children on the internet, and underpin a radical transformation of government services.”
Other measures introduced in the act include a requirement for providers of catch-up and on-demand television services to provide subtitles and audio description of their programmes. There are also measures to combat ticket touts who use bot technology to snaffle large volumes of tickets to sell for profit.
Elsewhere, the act introduces a new age-verification process for accessing online pornography that is slated to come into effect by April 2018. The government said that this will help “make the UK the safest place in the world for children to be online”.
Some of the measures contained in the act, which received royal assent three months ago, have already been implemented. These include a universal service obligation for broadband, which gives citizens the right to request from a designated provider an “affordable” connection of a specified minimum speed.
Other effective initiatives include providing individuals and companies with more information about communications services, in the name of making it easier to change providers. There are also provisions for compensation “if things go wrong” with such services. The act has also already introduced steps to “better protect citizens from nuisance calls”, the government said.