Consulympics: opportunities to have your say on tech policies

You may have noticed that there is currently an international sporting event going on in London. You probably have noticed. Olympic fever has monopolised most people’s attention, hearts and their minds. And of course the title of this blog post is a slightly clumsy and obvious attempt to make various technology policies seem like they are as viscerally entertaining as beach volleyball, artistic gymnastics or the heptathlon. Which they probably aren’t. To most people anyway.

But there are lots of really important consultations going on at the moment which will go some way to determining all sorts of policies, from the way public bodies anonymise data, through the government’s position on ‘parental controls’ and internet filtering, to new powers for surveillance. There are at least six consultations, to be precise. It would be a shame if they crept under the radar.

As always, your voice can make a real difference. If you feel like these will affect you, that you are particularly interested in the issue, or have useful evidence, we’d strongly urge you to submit something. 

Here is a general overview of the consultations, with some relevant reading and links to the relevant documents – we’ll post more on each of these closer to their deadlines. Here’s what’s happening, in order of the deadline for submissions (nearest first). So if you’re bored of the Olympics, need a break from all the sport, or were never interested in the first place – these should keep you busy. 

1. Consultation on a draft anonymisation code of practice

2. Communications Data Bill Joint Committee consultation

3. Parental Internet controls consultation

4. ‘Midata’ consultation

  • Deadline: September 10th
  • What is it? MIDATA is an initiative that ‘seeks to give people access to their personal data in an electronic re-usable format’ – in other words, an effort by government to get businesses releasing more data to consumers about their use of that service. “The consultation seeks views and opinions on a proposal to create an order making power, which if utilised, would compel suppliers of services and goods to provide to their customers, upon request, historic transaction and consumption data in an open standard machine readable format.”
  • Additional note: “We are also running a series of Open Forums over the consultation period at the BIS building, 1 Victoria Street, SW1H 0ET. The dates are as follows: Thursday 9th August, 3-5pm; Thursday 16th August, 3.30-5.30pm; Thursday 23rd August, 3-5pm. Please for more information.”
  • Useful reading:

5. Digital Economy Act Sharing of Costs Order consultation

  • Deadline: September 18th
  • What is it? Ofcom “are consulting on the implementation of an order to be made by the Secretary of State – The Online Infringement of Copyright (Initial Obligations) (Sharing of Costs) Order (the “Costs Order”). This Costs Order will require Ofcom to set fees payable by Copyright Owners to ISPs and to Ofcom if they intend to take advantage of a notification scheme in relation to online infringements of their copyright.” Issues include £20 appeals fee. 
  • Useful reading:

6. European Commission ‘net neutrality’ consultation


Update, 22nd August 2012:

7. European Commission ‘notice and takedown’ consultation

  • Deadline: 5th September
  • What is it? Essentially trying to establish the issues with how processes for taking down material from the Internet should work. It’s called ‘A clean and open Internet: Public consultation on procedures for notifying and acting on illegal content hosted by online intermediaries’, and the objectives to contribute to developing legal certainty, trust and therefore growth in (cross-border) online services, thus enhancing the functioning of the Digital Single Market; to contribute to combating illegality on the internet; and to ensure the transparency, effectiveness, proportionality and fundamental rights compliance of notice-and-action procedures.
  • Useful reading: