Telecoms reform package: not much progress …

Michael Spooner

Datonomy was pleased to attend the most recent legal forum of the Internet Services Providers’ Association (more catchily known as ISPA) on the impact of the new telecoms package, which was held on Tuesday last week.

The telecoms package, adopted in November 2009, is wide ranging in scope, covering a number of key issues for internet and communication service providers ranging from data privacy through to proposals for a new pan-European regulator. Datonomy has previously commented on the telecoms package in relation to the new security breach notification requirement for communications service providers and the enhanced consent requirements for website cookies.

Speaking at the forum, Rupert Marsh of the Department for Buisness innovation and Skills (B.I.S.), outlined the timetable for the UK’s implementation of the new package as

* Consultation with industry to be launched at the end of June 2010.

* Recommendations from B.I.S. following the consultation to be put in front of Parliament in September 2010.

* The Directive to be implemented into UK law by the end of May 2011.

The key message of the event was “watch this space” as B.I.S. intends to consult widely before looking to implement the reform package into national law. There was also a feeling that everything could well change following the General Election.

Of specific interest to Datanomy’s readers, Mr Marsh also spoke about the new approach towards cookies set out in the reform package. The package states that those distributing cookies (a tool used by marketers to track a user’s Internet habits and send targeted advertising) must seek consent from the user before installing the trackers on their browser.

B.I.S. intends to consult widely on how this should be implemented in practice as there was some confusion on how and at what point such consent in relation to cookies should be given. Given the sheer amount of cookies out there in cyberspace there was some concern that if authorisation was required for each cookie, users would be bombarded with authorisation requests every time a browser tried to install a cookie. However Mr Marsh made clear that B.I.S. were keen to avoid draconian measures which impinge on the web browsing experience.

With some “devil-in –the detail” to be decided before the telecoms package is made national law, Datanomy will be watching the consultation process with great interest.

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