Internet service providers (ISPs) escaped being saddled with further regulation yesterday when the Digital Economy Bill completed its report stage in the House of Lords.
The Lords debated issues such as whether ISPs should be made more responsible for the safety of children on the internet.
Baroness Howe of Idlicote said that ISPs should be obliged to provide customers with details of how they can filter internet content, and that the self-regulation approach advanced by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (CCIS) is not enough.
The CCIS promotes the British Standards Institute filtering kitemark so that people considering filtering options can identify reliable technology.
However, the amendment was dropped for the time being because it would mean increased burdens on ISPs and substantial government expense to ensure compliance.
The Digital Economy Bill has already proposed two new regulations for ISPs aimed at reducing illegal downloading.
The so-called 'three strikes' legislation would see culprits kicked off the internet after multiple attempts to download copyrighted material.
The House of Lords then proposed amendment 120A last week, which would give copyright holders the power to pressure ISPs into restricting certain web sites seen to be promoting illegal file sharing.
If the ISP fails to cut off the internet access, the copyright holder can apply to the courts to force the ISP to comply and the ISP would then be liable for legal costs. ISPs have protested against both forms of regulation, mainly because of the costs involved.
Amendment 120A stirred many protests last week, and there had been some anticipation that the Lords would debate the issue of web site restriction again yesterday, but there was no mention of the amendment in the discussions.
The Bill will enter its third reading in the House of Lords on Monday for a final discussion before it goes to the House of Commons.
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