Policy actions sorted A-Z.
Policy actions sorted A-Z.
Government policy should focus on technology as a priority. Legislation should be enacted that benefits all industries.
Technologies prioritised don’t contribute to a strong foundation for the benefits to emerge.
Poor contract negotiation locks Governments into particular providers.
Create or update legislation around the fair use of copyrighted material. This should extend the personal use rights of consumers to apply to digital content. A lot of current copyright law around content is based on physical media; someone who purchases a DVD can lend it to another person. This concept of ownership is less clear with digital content.
Integration of Creative Commons licences into services like Flickr give consumers easy control over the terms of how the content they produce is shared, unlike services like Facebook and Instagram where terms and conditions set absolute rules on rights.
Internet service providers are legally forbidden from prioritising data transfer by a certain digital service to ensure consumers have equal access to all services on any connection plan.
Brazil: The Civil Rights Framework for the Internet states that “all data packages must be treated equally, without distinction of content, origin and destination, service, terminal or application”.
India: Facebook Free Basics, a zero rated service, was banned by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India based on the 2016 Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations law.
European Union: Net neutrality regulations prevent EU internet service providers from throttling access to certain websites, unless there is a technical reason for doing so.
Introduction of net neutrality legislation has met resistance from internet service providers.
Particularly in emerging markets, free access to resources like Wikipedia Zero can have educational benefits.
People have access to the internet as a basic right to enable them access to the wider consumer market.
United Nations: In 2016, a resolution was made that condemned the “intentional disruption of internet access by governments” and upheld that “the same rights people have offline must be protected online”.
France: In 2009, a court struck down a portion of the HADOPI law, that gave authorities the ability to cut off internet access to people illegally downloading copyrighted content after two warnings, without judicial review, effectively declaring internet access a right.
Brazil: Under the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet, “access to the Internet is deemed under the law as essential for the exercise of citizenship”.
Some may consider internet access as a luxury.
Difficult to distinguish between economic, consumer and civil/human rights.
Digital services should be translated and appropriately adapted to meet the needs of the communities using them. This is particularly important in non-English speaking countries and countries with distinct communities that use minority languages.
Worldwide: ICANN, the international organisation that maintains the domain name system, introduced the ability to create domain names that use non-Latin characters in website addresses.
Canada: The accessibility of public services in English and French is legally mandated.
Digital skills are mapped so policy makers understand the quality of these skills in different regions and are able make effective interventions. This improves consumer access to the benefits of the digital marketplace.
United Kingdom: Doteveryone have created a heatmap, showing digital exclusion on a regional basis.
United Kingdom: Lloyds Bank have conducted research (PDF) on the relationship between digital skills and financial skills, arguing that those without digital skills are unable to benefit from the savings and banking accessibility found online.
European Union: The European Commission have 100 indicators that illustrate the success of different aspects of the European information society. Information about eCommerce has relevance to consumer empowerment, including statistics around people who order goods and services online and those who have encountered problems.
If skills mapping isn’t done at detailed geographic level, the information could be insufficient for effective policy intervention.
If measurements used to map skills are too broad, actionable assistance could be impossible.
Broadband speed is mapped throughout the country and released as open data. This is either done centrally or crowd-sourced from consumers. This allows policy makers and consumers to understand the quality of provision.
United Kingdom: The telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, releases open data around broadband connection speeds.
United States: The Federal Communications Commission release a yearly report called “Measuring Broadband America” that includes speed samples separated by geographical location.
Australia: The Broadband Availability and Quality Project have mapped broadband speed and technology capability across Australia, assigning A to E ratings on a neighbourhood level.
Canada: CTRC have mapped where broadband Internet services are available and the technologies used to provide those services.
Measurements must be done over a defined period to allow an average broadband speed to be calculated that more accurately reflects the quality of broadband in this area.
Data should be released with enough geographical resolution to make it useful. Showing street level broadband speeds is more useful than showing regional broadband speeds.
Gigabit-speed broadband connections offer up to 1 Gbps (1024 Mbps) of download speed and can theoretically download a 90 minute high definition film in 30 seconds.
Crowd-sourcing is a method of data collection where people independently contribute to a larger data set.
Local authorities plan and maintain broadband infrastructure so there is democratic accountability to the provision of internet access.
Government or private organisations provide access to digital skills training to those who need it, enabling them to take advantage of consumer services and advantages that are only available online.
Training could focus too narrowly on specific tools and doesn’t give people the confidence to use other services.
Training could be seen as a luxury or soft target for public funding reductions.
Doing it properly in a targeted and relevant way accessible to all is costly and needs investment.
Can be seen as a replacement for regulation, as opposed to complementary to it, so there’s a risk that risks are passed on to consumers.
Secure and free Wi-Fi is provided in public spaces to provide internet access and participation in the consumer market to those unable to afford a home internet connection. Public Wi-Fi in central urban areas can stimulate economic activity in that area, and may also reduce roaming data costs for tourists visiting the area.
Most G20 countries have examples of free local Wi-Fi.
Brazil: Between 2013 and 2015, there has been 83% growth in the number of Brazilian cities providing internet access for free in public areas. 1,457 out of 5,570 Brazilian municipalities offered free Internet access in 2014.
India: By May 2017, Mumbai will have 1,200 hotspots, making it the biggest public Wi-Fi network in India and one of the largest in the world.
Turkey and Indonesia: Acknowledging the lack of secure and stable public Wi-Fi connections, private organisations are offering rental 4G Wi-Fi enabled hotspots.
United Kingdom: The UK Government’s SuperConnected cities initiative has introduced public Wi-Fi on transport in nine cities.
DotEveryone have carried out research into the suitability of internet provision in elderly care homes.
In late 2016, Transport for London collected pseudoanonymised connection data from their public Wi-Fi networks in 54 stations to “better understand how London Underground passengers move through stations and interchange between lines”.
If usage exceeds the capacity of a Wi-Fi network, customer experience can be poor due to slow speeds.
Data transferred across public Wi-Fi networks that don’t use a password can be intercepted by other people.
Government funds, sometimes in partnership with private organisations, a major expansion project to increase broadband service reach and performance.
Australia: The National Broadband Network is a federal programme to improve connectivity across Australia, by replacing existing infrastructure and introducing mobile and wireless technology to improve coverage in rural areas.
Argentina: A consortium of telecommunications providers announced an alliance to develop a fibre optic network that links Argentina, Brazil and Chile that will improve broadband services in northern Argentina.
Brazil: Government invests $4 billion in broadband infrastructure development by giving tax relief to projects registered with the Ministry of Communications.
Large scale projects can be politically sensitive, expensive and subject to delays, particularly in reference to Australia’s National Broadband Network.
Funding projects may neglect specific areas of a nation.
Privately sponsored infrastructure projects could create broadband monopolies in some places.
Questions over funding of universal service obligations, and unintended consequences of subsidising non-targeted consumers.
Laptops or tablets are provided for use by the public, for example in libraries, to increase the number of people who can access digital services and participation in the digital consumer market.
Many public libraries provide access to computers within their buildings. In the United States, 98% of libraries offer free public access to computers and the internet.
United States: The Library of Things at Sacramento Public Library in California offer access to 3D printing and scanning services and expensive peripherals like projectors and graphics tablets, stretching the definition of digital access beyond essentials to tools for content production, rather than just consumption.
Loaned devices are at risk of theft or damage.
Poorer areas may be less capable of providing a loaning service.
Access may be limited if there is a heavy demand for a small number of devices.
Loaned devices may only allow for content consumption and not content production.
Rules stipulate how the pricing of digital services should be presented so people know what they are buying.
United Kingdom: Price Marking Order 2004 requires that goods must have their price clearly indicated and be inclusive of VAT. The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 covers the accurate description of digital content.
United States: Some States have rules around showing pricing at point of sale. Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act generally prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce”.
Australia: Section 48 of the Australian Consumer Law specifies the “single price for the goods or services” must be shown “in a prominent way and as a single figure”.
Brazil: Brazilian internet service providers must provide at least 20% of the speed they advertise.
Many countries have advertising standards agencies that enforce rules around accuracy in advertisements.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants service providers to provide better broadband speed information.
The Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom is making plans for reforming the way broadband speeds are advertised.
In the UK, mobile phone companies are breaking down prices show the cost of the handset and the contract. Broadband adverts must be clearer about the length of a contract and the full cost of it.
Consumer devices that require a service provider to function, like a mobile phone needs a mobile network, should not be locked into a particular provider to encourage competition between service providers and to maintain consumer choice. It may be necessary for a minimum contract period to run out, particularly for subsidised devices, but the consumer must be able to change networks after their contractual obligations have been met.
Most G20 countries have laws that prevent locking in consumers to using a particular service provider for a device.
United States: The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows mobile phones to be unlocked when a contract has been completed. Many other countries follow this model.
Japan: All devices sold by the three major mobile phone networks in Japan must be sold without a SIM lock when requested by the consumer, without a charge for this service.
Unsubsidised devices may cause retail prices to increase.
Lock in by stealth becomes more common.
Data controllers handle and protect personal data that is generated through consumer transactions to protect the privacy of consumers.
Most countries have a general right to privacy written into their national law or constitutions.
Different industries have their own data privacy laws.
Confidentiality of medical data is enforced in the United States by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In Turkey, patient privacy is guaranteed in Articles 78 and 100 of Legal Code 5510. In Canada, medical confidentiality is protected at federal and provincial level. In Australia, it is protected under the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Act 2012 and the Privacy Act 1988.
Financial institutions also have implied privacy unless required to disclose transactional information to law enforcement.
UNGCP 2016 and OECD Privacy Guidelines 2013 mention recognition of right to privacy as a major element of consumer protection.
LEGO’s website, which connects children through games, has no third party cookies or connections to social media accounts, and advises users to use pseudonyms.
The same data is treated differently across industries and national borders, weakening how people perceive the right.
Challenges in identifying, defining and quantifying risks, as well as enforcing the right.
Individual services comply, but, in the aggregate, companies breach intent of privacy.
People expect a minimum broadband speed and may request compensation if the speed is not met. Countries may do this in several ways; including creating a minimum service obligation for a certain speed, or creating a legal definition of what services may be sold as broadband.
United Kingdom: 10 Mbps download speeds are recommended by Ofcom. The UK government are in the process of creating a minimum service obligation.
United States: The US communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission, have defined broadband as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
Canada: The CTRC have ruled that broadband is minimum 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload.
Brazil: Internet service providers are mandated to provide 80% of the advertised download speed.
India: To be classified as broadband, connection speeds must be higher than 0.5 Mbps.
Policy can be influenced by telecoms organisations to reduce speed below public expectations.
Measuring connection speeds require a consistent methodology.
The baseline isn’t flexible enough to reflect changing expectations and capacity.
Upload speed: how fast data can be transferred from a consumer’s device to a server that runs a service.
Download speed: how fast data can be transferred from a server that runs a service to a consumer’s device.
Megabits per second: Abbreviated to Mbps, this is a measurement of data transfer speed, the amount of megabytes that can be transferred in a second.
Providers of digital services are legally bound to comply with design standards that allow people with accessibility needs to access digital services.
Worldwide: W3C published a recommendation, the Web Content Accessibility Guides (WCAG), that helps web developers create accessible digital content.
United Kingdom: Standard 8878 by the British Standards Institute defines the processes needed in the planning and deployment of accessible web products. While not legally enforceable as a standard, other legislation in the UK means that websites are legally required to be accessible.
United States: A 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act that requires Federal agencies to make their electronic and IT technology accessible to people with disabilities.
Spain: A law, UNE 139803, requires websites to follow accessibility requirements based on the WCAG standard.
Subsidised devices or broadband connections are made available to increase the number of people who can access digital services and benefit from them as consumers.
United Kingdom: Supported by Microsoft, Get Online At Home offers subsidised desktop and laptop computers.
United States: Broadband service provider Comcast offers a combination of discounted broadband service, low-cost computers and free training under their Internet Essentials program.
China: Subsidies exist for farmers in rural areas of China to buy computers, to encourage economic activity in the country.
The One Laptop Per Child programme allows national governments to purchase custom-built, cheap laptops to enable children to learn digital skills. These devices have been distributed in the US, India, Mexico and Brazil.
Broadband subsidies could cause price increases for other customers.
The quality of subsidised devices or connections could be insufficient for basic needs, and/or tied to content providers.
The technology that governments procure could be outdated by the time these devices are delivered to citizens.