back to article Digital Britain: A tax, a quango and ISP snooping

Did anyone expect more from Stephen Carter CBE? The former Ofcom boss and No.10 strategy chief (sic) has spent his career moving between the world of advertising and public relations, quangos and party. So it's no surprise that the "vision thing" involves a tax, a quango and a burden by private parties to snoop on the public. It …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just like everything else out of NeoGov, thieving bullshit and jobs for the boys (girls.)

  2. Geoff Spick


    How does one join this quango? I fancy a ride on the gravy train!

  3. Manta Bloke

    Can you stop this merry-go-round

    Im feeling sick and i wana get off!

    On the plus side think of all the money they can sink into this and how many jobs they will make etc .. ever get the feeling that the lunatics are running the assilum?

  4. Bill Murty

    Take me away

    Why don't they stop dilly dallying and arrest everybody. It'll be easier than having to take all the computers away and have them searched for contraventions.

    In fact I'm off to the court now to give them some money so I don't have to spend 90% of my online time trying not to break a law. I might aswell sign the sex offenders register while I'm there.

  5. Bumhug

    Dear Internet User

    It has come to our attention that you use the "Internet". As you may be aware there are some websites on the "Internet" that allow visitors to illegally download copyrighted material, the common name for this is "Piracy". It is believed that "Piracy" costs the music industry billions of pounds a year in lost revenue though we cant really be sure as the little research that has been done regarding "Piracy" suggests it doesnt have a major impact, but the record companies tell us it does and we believe them. The "Piracy" problem is so wide spread that it would cost the Record Industry billions to take everyone to court so we the Government have decided to step in.

    As you are a user of the "Internet" we are going to asume you are a criminal and download things illegally. Dont worry though, we wont take you to court instead we will fine you a small amount on a monthly basis and once we have taken our share of said amount as a handling fee whats left will go towards Amy Winehouse's heroin bill.

    If you believe that this fine (hereby called Internet Tax) does not apply to you we are sorry but no refunds can be given. By all means though feel free to help yourself to the wide range of music, video and games available to download illegally as after all you are now paying for it.

    Yours sincerely

    The Government

    PS please vote for us in the next election

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You need to know the special handshake.

  7. Mike Crawshaw
    Thumb Down

    Vision Thing?

    Twenty-five whores in the room next door, Twenty-five floors and I need more

    I'm looking for the can in the candy store, Two thousand hamburg four

    And colours I aint seen before

    Its a small world and it smells funny, I'd buy another if it wasnt for the money

    Take back what I paid, For another motherfucker in a motorcade

    I prefer the SoM Vision Thing. It makes more sense. I wonder if I can get back what I've paid for that Fat Twat Gordon in his Motorcade?

  8. Martin Lyne

    Use that tax money

    Take that money, give to record/movie/software companies (according to actual UK download distribution), tell them to stop whining.

    Fight a P2P tax just to make a "think about P2P tax"?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Not just one dead idea: DAB too!

    According to the Beeb summary, he wants DAB to become the "primary distribution network" for radio. The man is clearly a visionary!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or perhaps...

    this is another step towards slowly strangling the small ISP's with red tape in order to get us down to two or three big ones who are plugged in to the uberdatabase (a.k.a. Phorm) so that the spooks are guaranteed to be able to spy on everyone.

    As you can see, we have been watching you for some time now Mr Anderson...

  11. Andy ORourke

    Can you say Phorm?

    "We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order,"

    Might as well read:

    "We also intend to require ISPs to impliment PHORM to collect anonymised information, to be made available to anyone who asks together with the personal details on receipt of a payment,"

  12. Vic
    Black Helicopters

    It's not about piracy

    It's so they can later leverage it to snoop on everything else. once the tech is in place, no worries mate.

    that's why they don't mind looking stupid - because (a) it doesn't do anything useful right now but (b) it will do useful stuff later but no one will have the brains to remember why or how it was implemented, or even IF it was implemented.

    then they will come for you in the night because you spread 'misinformation' on your opinionated blogs....

  13. Jerome

    Taxing ISPs, that's fair and reasonable

    It reminds me of back in the early 90's when ram-raiding was the next big thing in theft enablement technology and the government started taxing Ford and the other major car companies so they could produce information about why ram-raiding was bad and naughty.

    What a fsking brilliant idea, I'm glad these people aren't acutely hard of thinking or swayed by big business to the point of corruption.

  14. N

    Agreed AC

    A twisted heap of mindless crappy bureaucracy run by ZaNu Labour

  15. Michael Fremlins

    I visited Ofcom once

    They actually had specially bottled "Ofcom water".

    Incredible the amount of money these quangos waste.

  16. Dave
    Thumb Down

    Pack up and leave town!

    What else did we expect from them? More jobs for the boys, yet another stealth tax and yet more inroads into privacy destruction (annoymous data but attached to your account details, hmm yes very annoymous that!)... BUT what if there was some central database that the copyright holders could mine instead? Oh hang on a minute..... *baulk*

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am SO glad I left the UK!!!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good grief

    What a cunch of bunts.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    It's a

    F***ing sh*t country we live in!

  19. Paul Murphy
    Paris Hilton

    stick, stick, stick stick....

    Where's my carrot??

    Why is the music industry so keen on punishing people? easy money? 'cos they can? the dinosaur brain hasn't died yet?

    The Virgin scheme was a least a good place to make a start - a better approach would be to have a payment scheme that would cost a little bit more, but would allow open P2P, maybe with Virgin hosting their own torrents.

    PH - Virgin? I think not.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crime and punishment.

    That is fecking it! I've had it up to here with these authoritarian control freaks. Much as I despise the Tories I've decided to hold my nose and vote for the bastards at the first opportunity. Why? Because the current bunch of self-serving lobby fodder need to be taken off their enhanced state benefits and made to join the dole queues they have created. It really doesn't matter that the other lot will be just as bad, what matters is that we inflict the severest possible electoral punishment on NuLabour so that the incoming sheep get the message: NO MORE CRAP!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Logic to make Sir Humphrey proud

    So, by the same brilliant excercise of logic, if I bought a box of blank DVD-Rs then the Tesco store detective would have to follow me home just in case I might be going to commit a civil offence. How much more neo-Fascist control freakery is John Bull going to put up with? ElReg really needs a Guy Fawkes icon we can use...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    what's not to love?

    "We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a court order,"

    Can someone explain how "anonymised" information can be tied to "personal details" once it has been anonymised? Seriously...once you have removed the information, it's just NOT THERE STUPID! Oh, I'm sorry. You didn't mean "anonymised" as in removed data; you meant to say simply tied to another database with names and addresses. Wankers

  23. Kieron McCann
    Thumb Up

    Re Vision Thing

    Ahhh, that brings back some good memories - thanks for that.

    I need more!

  24. Dave Bell

    Anything for Content?


    I am not suprised that content creators get nothing from this.

  25. Dunstan Vavasour

    @Paul Murphy - "Where's my carrot"

    Once they've broken the stick, they'll start beating you with the carrot.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just like the ICO then...

    This bears a passing resemblance to the Information Commissioner's Office. One of the main reasons for requiring people to file a data protection registration, is that the £35 fee pays for the ICO. The register itself is little use to anyone.

  27. John Murgatroyd

    Gravy train arriving ?

    The way onto the gravy train is simplicity itself.

    First you need a tube of water-based lubricant.......

  28. chris swain

    We should just sit back and make cynical & sarcastic comments

    It's the English way, if we were Yanks then the EFF ( would be onto them in next to no time.

    I think we need an EFF or some type of popular, grass roots, campaigning body for digital rights in the UK.

  29. Neil Charles

    They know exactly where the tax is going

    This internet thing is way out of control. What it needs is a government backed hand to make sure that it's used appropriately and, later, has 'appropriate' content.

    Just like TV.

    Licence fee for the net anybody?

    It's a small step from here to the quango deciding they can do some Public Good with all the tax money they've got sloshing around and starting to make websites, or taking a close interest in ISPs because they're being unhelpful in terms of enforcement.

  30. Will

    Anonymised data?

    What is the point of collecting anonymised data on repeat infringers - all you'd know would be that 'someone' was doing it, but you wouldn't know who.

  31. Adair Silver badge


    Time the open source coders got hacking so we can all become our own ISPs and ad hoc connection nodes. The Govt. might just as well say, 'We want to tax conversation. Oh, and by the way, we want to listen to everything you say as well---for your own good, you understand'.

    Maybe I should get my coat, but then again...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 29th January 2009 13:49 GMT

    @Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 29th January 2009 13:49 GMT

    Agreed, but you missed "more unwarranted surveillance"

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Television distributed by phone ?

    There are an enormous amount of people like me who are at their keyboards desperately trying to avoid Doomenders, Corrie and the like. Why on earth are people using i(b****y)Player when TV is delivered 24/7 ad nauseum by a network of (now mostly digital) transmitters ???

    Watch it, tape it, people. That's why you bought a new giant LCD screen. But BBC, stop trying to force it down my phone line and make me pay extra for the privilege of NOT WATCHING !! while seeing my web surfing slow to a crawl.

    Not content with chasing households for the TV Licence I am sure the BBC are rubbing their hands together wondering if, in future, they can manage to charge everyone (especially those with no tv at present) a licence fee based on the number of PCs in the house....

  34. Tim
    Black Helicopters

    Open Rights Group

    @Chris Swain - there is a UK EFF - it's the Open Rights Group ( They're small and they don't have the same volume as the EFF does over the other side of the pond, but they're the best we've got - they deserve our support...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    British EFF

    We have a British EFF: the Open Rights Group, and they're a completely useless nice but dim Freetard fan club so everyone except the BBC ignores them.

    In the US the EFF can litigate because that's how you do things there - but why would you want that here? Are lawyers going hungry or something?

  36. Tom Paine


    I was only mentioning to someone today how I find myself on the same side of the argument as people who I suspect I have very little else in common with in politics and opinions... and that a dead giveaway was the script-kiddiesque use of "NuLabour" and suchlike expressions of lip-curling contempt. Don't get me wrong, this government have pushed through some truly dreadful laws, and narrowly missed getting even worse ones through (hello, 42 days!) but.... y'all freak me out a touch. Well, anyway, I must say it's nice to see so many new advocates of the causes of privacy, human rights, and freedom from surveillance. See you on the next No2ID / Liberty / Amnesty demo, or the EFF or ORG supporters lists...? Great!

    WRT legal music downloads - I avoided the whole industry since iTunes store and "plays for sure" and similar DRM-riddled crapola. Happily, I've now discovered* which does DRM-free, high-quality mp3 format downloads of all the mainstream (and a lot of the obscure / indie / foreign stuff ) I'm interested in; I've caned the cc there over the last year, probably spent over a grand on 1s and 0s, as I fill the gaps in my music collection. (I had no Stones! I had no Dylan! I had no Enter Shikari! )

    *I've no connection with them I should say, despite the brown-nosing; it's just that I was waiting for legal, DRM-free downloads for *years* whilst all zer kids were selling their souls to Steve Jobs :)

  37. Anonymous Coward

    UK EFF

    Perhaps the Reg can lead the charge by forwarding all comments to writetothem. That was the sarky comments end up in MPs inboxes. I'm sure it wouldn't long for them to just give up in despair.

  38. This post has been deleted by its author

  39. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Digital Britain .... A Typically Small-Minded Fluff Piece ...about Taxidermy.*

    "But in doing so, it's failed to convince Government it has the creative business know-how to arrest its own decline."

    Hear,hear, Andrew. A situation mirrored in Stephen Carter CBE, now pratting about in BERR pontificating, in a Government/Political Party with Zero ZerodDay creative business know-how to arrest its own decline.

    J'accuse and call a Spade a Spade and the Strategy Unit/BERR a Dumb Confidence Trick until such times as they actually do something Innovative and New. Provide them with something Innovative and New and unless it will reward them and maintain the Status Quo Hierarchy, which is in Rapid/Exponentially Quickening Decline because of their Failed Mathematical and Fractional Reserve profits for Growth Models, will it Sit Unsurely and Unanswered, Providing ever More Evidence of their Complicity in a Conspiracy to Sustain a Failing Model which Pays them for Failures........ Transferring Private Sector Financial Marketeers [Pirate Banker Clones] and Toxic Bank Gambling Debts to Public Ownership for Simple Quantitive Easing/Printed Money Repayment with the Dumb Taxpayers Brainwashed into Thinking that they have to Pay for it with more Taxes....... to keep them exactly where they are ...... and out of the Gravy Train Loop.

    However, just in case anyone missed it, in all of the White Noise Media Chatter/Chuffing Chaff for Chavs, ther has been a Power Change/Paradigm Shift of Virtual Control.

    Deny IT and Seek Succour and Cover to Program against IT and IT will Mercilessly Render the Fool and his Toadying Cronies, their Just Desserts ........ which is not something which a Baying Mob would give any Thought to in their Righteous Indignation and Orgy of Sweet Revenge.

    The Very Real and Present Danger is that any NeuReality/Virtual Reality Technology Ignored [for whatever Reason] at Home/Sitting in an email, will simply be Offered to Those who can Beta Use IT.

    And all of the above information, which you can hereby be assured is True, makes a complete mockery of, and reveals as a Monstrous Lie, any notion that anyone has any facility which effectively polices/monitors/mentors the Internet and Communications for Prior Knowledge of National Security, International Incident or InterNetional InfraStructure Challenge/Breach/Attack ......... which in the Quantum Field of Communications are All just Opinions in NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive IT. ......... An Intangible Invisible Wraith of a Foe on the Sinister Side whilst also Something Uniquely Immaculate and Untouchable to the Dexterous Free Spirit.

    *The Stuffing of Dead Animals. ....... which seems QuITe Appropriate for a Moribund Department Headless Chicken.

  40. paulc

    re-parsing the phrase

    the anonymised information will be passed to the rights holders who will then be able to get a court order to get the real details if they decide to prosecute... basically, they'll be shopping you to the rights holders and we get to pay for it all

    The rights holders wet dreams have all come true...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC lamebrains

    This morning I awoke to the sound of some dimbulbs on the Today programme discussing "broadband for all". Some BBC woman (clueless about numbers, technology, etc. as they're required to be nowadays) asked brightly what people would do with this - watching videos, she suggested.

    Way to go! Contention zooms sky-high as couch potatoes start watching their movies over a shared copper telephone wire instead of using the perfectly good TV services or borrowing them from Blockbuster. And those few of us who actually want to use the Internet go back to slow, unreliable connections.

  42. Fruitloop


    Yet more NuLabour hot air and no action, the UK is way behind everyone else in this field. I'd like to of seen a recommendation on how upgrade our ageing copper phone network to fibre delivering the Broadband speeds we really need.

    Yet more public money wasted on a clueless, unimaginative committee.

  43. Guy Heatley

    @British EFF

    To say that the ORG are "a completely useless nice but dim Freetard fan club so everyone except the BBC ignores them" is just plain wrong.

    This is just "you're too small to make a difference so don't even bother trying" - a fatal assumption to make by either party, for or against, a particular cause.

    Arguably, the ORG currently don't have the same clout as the EFF, but if the type of people who read these comments contribute their support, clout can be powered up.

  44. Anonymous Coward


    You only need an anti-slavery campaign if there's slavery.

    If we had really great music services like a legal Napster (which I understand VIrgin were going to introduce) there would be no need for DRM or the BPI or the RIAA, or EFF or an ORG to fight them either. That's a hell of a lot of acronyms we can do without.

    Maybe the BPI and the ORG should merge anyway? They both seem to be opposed to giving us what we want.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    wot no DAB?

    MAybe I've missed something, but will somebody please lay into his vision for digital radio? Analogue switchoff my hairy buttocks...

  46. Norfolk Enchants Paris


    Sweet sweet irony here.

    On the one hand, the Govt supposedly wants 'better, more affordable broadband for everyone'.

    On the other hand, the Govt will increase the price by burdening users/ISPs with costs.

    How does that make sense?

  47. James Pickett

    Couldn't make it up

    "anonymised information .. together with personal details"


    BTW, does anyone know what happened to the levy on 'audio' CD-R's that was supposed to offset the cost of piracy? In the BPI's pocket no doubt, or perhaps in some Treasury slush fund...

  48. Anonymous Coward


    When will they figure out the only way to stop people pirating media is to offer them a better alternative? £15 a month subscription for access to download whatever you want. Better than the *sweet fa* they get at the moment.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Can we have a general election please?

    Enough is enough. I can't take much more of these idiots. They've had their turn, so can we have a fresh set of idiots please.

  50. blackworx

    Excellent article

    That is all, cheers Mr. O.

  51. Recaffeinated

    "Stephen Carter CBE ... Managing Director of NTL UK & Ireland – 2000 / 2003" - BERR website

    So, what you're trying to tell me is that the same man who was Managing Director of one of the UK's largest broadband providers at the exact same time the company was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, is now in charge of creating the policy framework for the future of broadband across the whole of the UK?

    Don't be ridiculous, that would be like having the Chancellor of the Exchequer that took the UK into its worst recession since 1948 being in charge of the recovery!

    Oh, wait...

  52. Graham Marsden

    @Paul Murphy

    > Where's my carrot

    You want the carrot? You sure? Ok, drop your trousers and bend over. This Government is going to *give* you the carrot!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @wot no DAB?

    DAB = gov controlled access, no more pirate radio unless you have one of the forbidden AM/FM radio receivers. Bit like the old Soviet Union where they sold radios with 4 buttons pre-tuned to Mayak etc.

  54. Walking Turtle


    Per Beatles lyric on (and yes, I owned the vinyl Back Then; wish I still did sometimes):


    Let me tell you how it will be,

    There’s one for you, nineteen for me,

    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,

    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    Should five per cent appear too small,

    Be thankful I don’t take it all.

    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,

    Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    (If you drive a car car), I’ll tax the street,

    (If you try to sit sit), I’ll tax your seat,

    (If you get too cold cold), I’ll tax the heat,

    (If you take a walk walk), I’ll tax your feet.


    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,

    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    Don’t ask me what I want it for

    (Ah Ah! Mister Wilson!)

    If you don’t want to pay some more

    (Ah Ah! Mister Heath!),

    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,

    Yeeeah, I’m the Taxman.

    Now my advice for those who die, (Taxman!)

    Declare the pennies on your eyes, (Taxman!)

    ‘Cos I’m the Taxman,

    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    And you’re working for no-one but me,


    Apart from the shortened memories, it appears there is clearly nothing new in this present situation. Over here across the Pons, of course, they still do full cavity searches on 12-year-old girls caught downloading the "Barney Theme" from the intarnets, apparently still to this day with Chief Bush-Justice(FNORD!) Roberts' full avid "didya' rillygettit onfillum? Lemmeseeit... settitup... ohnice... <zip> ohyeah..." approval.

    Behavior mod, thassit. "Honey, if you really do download that song like I see you are just about to, then four huge black SUVs full of bad men dressed in black with earpieces stapled to their heads at taxpayer expense will come breaking into our house with guns and take away the computer, put their dirty fingers into every lovely hole in your little body for hours on end, film the entire raid with their Government-issue videocams, and just proceed to do everything in their power to make certain you remember that horrible day for the rest of your crippled-down little half-life." "Oh! Now I understand about copyright! Thank you so much, Mommy, I'll not download that song after all, then!"

    Child-molestin' porngrubbin' snuff-filmin' top-down wanktards, that bloody cack-handed lot all surely be, arrrr-rr-r. Same as always, the inspired human being who first created the lyric in the first place still gets zilch.

  55. Martin
    Thumb Up

    @Recaffeinated 17:19

    You sir, get a commendation from me.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022