According to the BBC:
From March all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will by law have to keep information about every e-mail sent or received in the UK for a year
Whilst I have yet to see the annoying cry of “Nineteen-eighty-four” appear all over the blogosphere, I’m sure it will by the end of the day. What intrigues me is how it will work, especially regarding web-mail accounts. Surely if I use a web-based email account somewhere outside the UK (or most probably the EU), and emailed people whose accounts are also outside the UK, then no ISP would be under any obligation to store the data.
Email is increasingly being replaced by other forms of communication, so if you really wanted to contact certain well-known unsavoury characters without the government finding out just instant message them.
TechCrunch are reporting that Dailymotion are starting to offer HD videos, streamrate 2 megabits per second. Whilst it is great that these services are starting to be offered, we are a long way from the ISPs being able to deal with any sudden surge in traffic. Currently the UK ISPs struggle to deal with the bandwidth-friendly streaming of the iPlayer!
It is being widely reported that the UK government is considering requiring internet service providers to take action against people illegalling downloading music and films: email warning, suspension,and then termination of contract. Personally I welcome the move, although I have some reservations about the effect it will have on legal internet activity. The illegal downloading of films is a problem, and potentially a bigger problem than the illegal downloading of music. Whilst music can be produced relatively cheaply by amateurs, the rubbish on YouTube is not going to be making Hollywood quality movies any time soon.
The problem that is most often identified with such legislation is that of ‘piggybacking’, someoneelse using an open wi-fi connection. Whilst this can most often be sorted out by password protecting your wi-fi, some of the systems are not very good and can be easily hacked. The ISPs should have a duty to provide secure wireless encryption before they can suspend or teminate a contract. If they supply a secure system, then we can be expected to utilise it.
I am more concerned about the effect it will have on public wi-fi zones. Those coffee houses and pubs that make wi-fi freely available. Unless such places are excluded from any new laws, any legislation could hold back the growing adoption of certain mobile technologies.
So, if ISPs provide secure wireless encryption and the public wi-fi spots are excluded, I broadly welcome any legislation. It will also force parents to take more interest in what their children are up to online. Whatever they may say, they are rarely doing their homework.
I have just been reading the BBC’s post about the success of the iPlayer since its official Christmas launch. Although, whilst I am extremely happy for their success, I fear that there is little room for growth, in fact after a couple of months there may even be a slow down in usage, especially with streaming programmes, as the ISPs start to throttle people’s internet.
As a user who has been using the iPlayer for months, my broadband seems to be constantly throttled these days. It got to the point the other night that I was downloading a file at an extremely feeble 6k rather than the supposed 2Mb (unlimited) I am subscribed to! The fair use limits can not be considered fair use in any true sense of the word, as they have failed to respond to changing habits in internet use. Although in truth I can’t say that they are “unfair” as it is extremely hard to find out exactly what they are, and you are given no warning the throttling is coming.
Whilst we have been hearing a lot about the government’s concern with broadband speeds not living up to the advertised speeds, they really need to be stepping in and knocking some ISP heads together. Leave it to the market when it works, but the ISP market is not working.
Whilst it will probably all be sorted at some vague point in the future, it really doesn’t help with the missed episode of Kingdom that is currently only available in a streaming format on ITV.com (although ITV.com have noticeable improved the finding of programmes I can no-longer stream).