UK Cost-Sharing Consultation Farce, and Response
Another day, another consultation response.
This ‘consultation‘ from the BIS focuses on the “cost sharing” aspects of the Digital Retardation Economy Act. As usual, the document will be published by the BIS in due course, but I prefer to publish it myself, ahead of time – I have no reason to hide my answers away, or bury them with ‘trade secrets’ because they’re just plain honest facts and data. Alas, as has happened with previous consultations, the facts will be ignored in favour of projections, estimations, and allegations (or as a phrase made popular by Mark Twain put it, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics“)
There is also a lot that can be told from the way consultations are worded though. I can say with a lot of confidence say what the outcome will be from the questions in the document. For instance
- That there will be a split in costs, 25% put on the ISPs, and 75% for the media holders, when it comes to identifying who owns an IP address. This despite it not only being at the behest of the rights holders, but that they are the only party to see any benefit from it. (page 15/16 of the document)
- That any appeal against an allegation will require a fairly substantive fee to be paid, refundable only if an appeal is successful. (page 18/19), and
- That small copyright holders, who were the only ones financially disadvantaged under the old system, were and are an afterthought to be given lower priority. (page 20)
There are also an amusing number of factual errors, and plain lack of basic understanding about the issues the consultation deals with. It becomes less amusing when the thought strikes you that the clueless morons who wrote this, and dictating policy in a subject they know nothing about. They are as qualified to conduct surgery as they are to write/lead policy on this subject, yet while they’d be charged with ABH if they put scalpel to skin, decimating an industry and the future will probably get them an ‘attaboy’. Nowhere is this lack of basic knowledge visible more than page 18, where it says
5.19 The Government has always stated that subscribers must be able to access a robust appeals mechanism and that cost should not deter those who feel they have a genuine case.
5.20 There are two options open:
- No fee for a subscriber to access the appeals process
- A modest fee, refundable if successful, for a subscriber to access the appeals process
5.21 Option 1 would ensure cost could not be an issue in accessing the process. However it would be vulnerable to abuse and to any mass campaign against the obligations (for example, those opposed to Australia’s proposed content filtering legislation have launched several “denial of service” attacks on Government websites and it is conceivable a “no fee” regime might find itself the target of a similar orchestrated campaign by those opposed to the OiC measures). As such it would add to the overall cost of the appeals system.
5.22 Option 2 would mean subscribers wishing to use the system would face an upfront fee, refundable if successful. The fee would need to be set at such a level as to deter frivolous appeals but not dissuade those who felt they had a genuine case.
Whichever moron wrote 5.21 failed to understand that a DOS attack can and will happen to any server the attacker wishes. If it uses a web portal it can fall prey to a DOS attack with or without fees. Similarly, if it has no fees, but also no website as it’s front-end, it’s not going to be able to be targeted, as there’s nothing to target. Also, the only way such a system would be flooded by appeals is if the system is flooded by claims/accusations.
Likewise, 5.22 seems to have created the idea of ‘frivolous appeals’ – although the idea that an appeal can be frivolous is an anathema to the UK judicial system. Perhaps it’s why this system has been created, as appeals question the “solid evidence” in many of these cases.
However, things are as they are, and many of these things were pointed out in my response, which was just in time. It can be read here