Reckless Endangerment

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The deck chairs have been rearranged. Open hostilities shall recommence when Parliament returns, after the Silly Season ends, on the 5th September. Then our new PM shall be off to her first G20 Summit. As the 30th September Chinese Currency endeavour draws ever nearer the PM is also off to pay them a separate visit. But who is risking the single biggest act of reckless endangerment? Actually is not the new PM but instead it is Sharon White, as indicated from her speech to the International Institute of Communications, in Washington, on the 28th June.

It was a good speech. Well delivered. Highlighting that Sharon has grasped her Brief during her short tenure at OFCOM. But as such, the speech highlights that Sharon has scrummed to the OFCOM Establishment view towards Net Neutrality which fails to appreciate the distinction between the Open Internet or Closed Internet Policy Agenda. Pity! 

Washington, however, is alive to this distinction. Tragically though, the OFCOM culture is not. Is this simply because as the Select Committee has identified correctly, OFCOM views itself solely as a "Competition Regulator" and thus has lowered its horizons?

From Sharon's speech, I quote: "So, I understand why the FCC wants to ensure networks compete fairly on content by upholding net neutrality rules. Like much regulation, it's a balancing act. Network providers want a deal that gives them sustainable returns. But content providers need terms that allow them to innovate and invest. 

Neutrality is less an issue in the UK, where competition has been stronger over the "final mile". But I empathise with the challenge of achieving balance in good regulation.

Net neutrality in the US. Network access competition in the UK. Two examples of major, targeted interventions by regulators in areas where consumers are losing out. We call it "right touch" regulation.

For me, "right touch" means fixing the problem, while taking care to avoid unintended harm - not discouraging investment by regulating too soon, or focusing on short-term results. Keeping prices competitive, but allowing healthy returns for operators"

Indeed! "Right touch"! 

What utter nonsense! This remark is well on a par with Ed Richards previous "Best Efforts" speech to Washington. Sharon clearly does not really understand the FCC. Does the rest of the OFCOM Establishment still fail to understand likewise? Or are they instead, as the Home Affairs Select Committee stated in their 8th Report critique of the US Internet Providers, engaged in "Willful Blindness". 

Ironically, OFCOM never once got a mention in the HA Report once - why ever not? Whereas I fully support the HA Select Committees recommendations as regards the CTIRU as an interim platform to build on and away from HMGCHQ. It still leaves unanswered where OFCOM stands within the Cyber-Crime, Security and Intelligence framework in the UK? 

Is it simply the case that OFCOM are excluded here as they do not have the leverage the US Government has over the Internet Technology Companies through their FCC and NTIA. Is it that simple? If so, why does OFCOM pretend to be otherwise on a par?

Whereas the EU Commissioner has now begun to hurt the US Internet Providers where it counts: on their balance sheet. As the EU Commission has stepped up a gear in muscle flexing for their arm wrestling session over the TTIP. [And Washington in reply accuses Brussels of being a "supranational tax authority" - Oh Dear - a case of pots and kettles, ah well, such is the Leverage Game in international diplomacy!]

However, just return to and reread the above statement of Sharon's and try to get behind it's underlying sentiments.


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