back to article UK.gov thinks internet should be run like BSkyB

Which is worse: the fact that the UK government appears to favour replacing free access to the internet with a model that looks suspiciously like that of a cable TV network, or that whoever helped draft this measure cut-and-pasted text from Wikipedia in support of it? The threat to internet access arose during discussion of …

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  1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    We already know this won't work.

    "Imagine, for a moment, a world in which half the ISPs permitted their customers to access Google (or even Wikipedia) and the other half did not."

    OK. Hold on a moment, I will.

    Neeeeeeeawwwwwwww, CRASH!! (splinter, tinkle)

    That, by the way, was the sound of the half that didn't. Seriously, unless it is made illegal or taxed until it is prohibitively expensive, no-one is going to go with an ISP that restricts access. That's the AOL model that tanked once the average punter realised what they were missing.

    And technically, with several gazilion sites out there and the list changing every minute, both blacklists and whitelists would be out of date before they could even be deployed to the ISPs routers. You only have to consider the (in)effectiveness of such lists against spam and P2P sites to see this.

  2. Andy ORourke
    Unhappy

    Some kind of joke?

    "Instead of users having virtually free access to the entire net, internet providers would be allowed to limit the number of websites that users can access, in exchange for a lower fee"

    And in exchange for a lower fee they (ISP) charge me for the speed I ACTUALLY get rather than charging me for "UP to 8Mbps"

    They (ISP's) PAY me for the data they collect and sell on while they intercept and spy on my browsing habits

    Finally they (ISP's) would no longer be allowed to use the term Unlimited* in their advertising

    See that *, thats the thing that tells you what the limit is on your "unlimited" account!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    You can stop this!

    Write to your local politician to ask them to oppose this crap.

    Come on, if it's the one pro-active thing you do today do it. You'd be surprised how few people it takes writing to their local politician to make a change (10s of people).

    Just do it!

  4. General A. Annoying
    Thumb Down

    Ohh, nasty!

    But this is still in line with New Labour's controlling policies, so its bound to find favour with them.

    Her Wackiness will love it.

    Logical extension;

    Your computer fitted with a reader for your ID card to 'authorise' your internet access level.

    <robovoice> Papers please, Citizen.</robovoice>

  5. JMB

    UK.gov thinks internet should be run like BSkyB

    "UK.gov thinks internet should be run like BSkyB"

    Controlled by Rupert Murdoch?

  6. John Allison
    Black Helicopters

    New model for the Internet!

    Ummmmm, is this "new" idea of restricting access to websites in any way similar to the system extant in some countries of restricting access to some websites in return for not beating the shite out of users?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't

    Isn't this somewhat at odds with all that digital britain tripe? How can you build a "Thriving Digital Economy" when your customers will have to pay a subscription fee to get to your site?

    Of course, even if it was implemented, all it'd take was one ISP offering "Proper" access to the internet and the whole thing would fall apart.

  8. Dave

    Which came first?

    I guess someone checked that the civil servant didn't write the piece and then update the wiki page to match? It wouldn't be the first time someone's claimed something as fact with a recently-modified Wikipedia page to back it up. Works with lazy tabloid journos a lot of the time...

    As for the government screwing up the internet, I'm sure they would happily restrict what we can do if they can find a means of managing it. So far we're OK, but they might get lucky and put two coherent thoughts together.

  9. jimbarter
    Thumb Up

    Thanks

    for writing this up

  10. Tee

    It was writen

    I predicted this a few years back.

    It was always bound to happen.

    Cut it up, box it off, sell it high.

  11. MJI Silver badge
    Flame

    Stupid

    Most stupid idea I have heard all day.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge

    The real reason?

    Of course, were there a requirement that all ISPs provided access to the entire internet, those mobile providers off on their "walled garden" access kick would suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the regulators.

    I reckon that's where the pressure's coming from. Government don't do nuttin' 'less it can either make political capital out of it (can't see it here) or get a boundless sufficiency of free lunches off a lobby group for doing it.

  13. Joe

    I see it now

    Government claims to be building a "thriving digital economy" and uses said argument to shift public services to the web.

    Government builds system whereby web services can negotiate agreements with ISPs to allow access, presumably with a fee or reciprocal arrangement involved, probably along the lines of "implement this government approved blacklist".

    Government tells citizens that if they want to access any public services whatsoever they need to use an ISP on their approved list of Phorm-subscribing overpriced "unlimited*" ISPs.

    I'm only as paranoid as Jacqui wants me to be

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Crying onion

    Looks like more people might be joining Tor/Freenet et al's before too long then

  15. JimBob

    Lousy Title

    Unless they restrict access to VPN's and proxy's any control is worthless. Maybe they'll make accessing the net via a proxy illegal at some point.

    It's funny how governments and organisations like to give off the impression that they're somehow controlling their own slice of the internet pie when in reality the net is just as lawless and anarchistic as it always has been, albeit a lot faster.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Is it April 1st already?

    So what about an ISP who decides that actually Microsoft update servers cause them a major traffic problem and so to keep costs they block access to those servers for the average user who doesn't pay more? Or they block access to the Ubuntu repositories, or the Apple update sites, or any update site?

    BSkyB and Virgin can block access to parts of spectrum of broadcast channels and its not going to break my Sky or Cable box is it.

    Once again the Government shows that frankly they don't have a fucking clue when it comes to the internet. How can a bunch of people be so fucking clueless about something which they are trying to make "core" to all their damned services.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    re: Some kind of joke?

    Hehe you think UK ISPs use of unlimited is bad?

    Here in Oz I saw one advert for "unlimited" 3G downloads where the fine print just happened to mention that your traffic would be severely shaped after 1GB.

    So yes, its unlimited, at 56kb/s.

  18. system

    RE: Which came first?

    "So far we're OK, but they might get lucky and put two coherent thoughts together."

    But from the look of things they couldn't put a database together, so we should be fine :-P

  19. druck Silver badge
    Stop

    Bleating bloody ISPs

    It's the bleating bloody ISPs behind this, wanting to charge us extra for access to BBC iPlayer and similar services, instead of delivering the unrestricted bandwidth to our computers which they promised when they sucked us in.

    We need to fight this nonsense.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Model

    New Model for the internets, as brought to you by China. Now I don't have a problem with how China do things, they're signed up - not democratic, not believing in freedom of speach or expression. That's fine, they put their cards on the table and you just gotta shrug your shoulders and knuckle down. However I was under the impression that we lived in the free and democratic west.

    I lie of course, I've known for a long time that we're all just slaves to who ever can aford our pitifully low price, but at least they used to hide the fact a bit better.

    here's to 12 years of Puritian rule, looking at another 12.

  21. Sillyfellow
    Black Helicopters

    good to know

    though not surprising for our gvt.

    welcome to the vision of our completely controlled and monitored future.

    the end of our free interwebs is nigh. if the gvt have it their way, it will be the end of ALL our freedom.

    will the last person, please turn out the lights !!

  22. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    When Al Gore invented the internet*...

    ....the specifications were pretty clear. Anyone that could reach any access point was permitted to peer with other networks.

    The carriers, and larger ISPs, however, began to see this as a free ride, and had that part of the rules changed.

    The problem of bandwidth is paradoxical for the cable companies, they generally pay for content, so they should welcome free content from any source, and yet they are renting pipe from the big carriers, and see their costs escalating.

    The solution for the isp is Cascade Distribution. (like bittorrent) A set top box with a hard drive becomes a node inside the local network, serving the neighbor's movie.

    * Al Gore was sponsor of the communications act of 1996, a law the phone companies spent millions to gut.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @.. one ISP offering "Proper" access

    ... and in the Global economy they may or may not be located in Britain or the EU.

    This government doesn't understand but still wants to control and in doing do will take us back to the dark ages of no civil liberties, no free access to the internet, no freedom of speech.

  24. amanfromMars Silver badge

    When will they ever learn ..... v2.0

    Such Controls in the Internet as the article floats is just like Al Qaeda and/or the Taleban Proposing Intellectual Slavery. In Fact, it would be Worse than such Terrorism. It is High Time that Governments realised that they do not Lead Exclusively with Taxes to Steal as Idiot Gods, they Provide Inclusion with Currency to Spend as Smart Phishermen.

    Get your Act together you Intellectually Challenged Proxy Oxymorons ...... IT is at your Service but not for your Further Abuse of Controlling Power.

  25. Eponymous Cowherd
    Coat

    Yet again.....

    the UK Government prove they are brain-dead f**ktards when it comes to the Internet.

    OK, so they are also brain-dead f**ktards when it comes to policing, the economy, immigration, health, education, foreign policy,...,...,...,...,...,...

  26. Tim
    Pirate

    "Chocalate Tax" by a different name?

    The proposals are clearly influenced by an agenda rather principle. They are not drawn up by people wishing to protect or add value to the Internet and clearly they know very little about the Internet except from what they can easily reference in Wikipedia. The people behind this do understand everything about extracting money from the proletariat.

    The Government have managed to tax drinking in a pub to such a level that it is a leisure pastime only contemplated by the rich and have taxed nicotine addicts to a level where some may consider street crime to support their habit. Alternative tax revenue is required and some see the Internet as the next easy target.

    The WWW is the Global Public Library of the 21st Century. If the UK Government gets its way the vast majority of people in the UK will end up reading electronic comics because they can't afford the books.

    PS Is it just me or is there a sense that a people's revolution may be in the air?

  27. N Silver badge

    Just another example

    of the slippery slope these fools are going down

  28. Luther Blissett

    Racketeering inspired corruption

    AC 13:37 > How can you build a "Thriving Digital Economy" when your customers will have to pay a subscription fee to get to your site?

    Who says the words "free market" are in there? Your TDE will consist of "free" access to a cartel of big businesses (and *.gov.uk), and online shopkeepers will only get a look in from subscribers paying for "freer" access. Adam Smith's free market was always premised on perfect knowledge of the market by all players. As that always works against established suppliers, they have always tried to subvert information flows. What better way than "marketing" - hyperreal "facts".

    Global monopoly capitalism requires political fascism for protection and a hyperreality to protect the arrangement.

    You can see this because this proposal comes top-down and not bottom-up. It's deplorable and depressing to see how many of the EU's big cheeses have been bought into it already.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The spaceship now leaving for planet Bonkers......

    I think I know a cunning plan when I smell one. Having comprehensively fucked up the global economy they are now embarking (that's 'barking' as in howling at the moon) on phase two of their galactic strategy: fucking up the biggest and most democratic communication network that has ever existed on this planet.

    Phase three involves a rapid exit from Earth orbit before the final devastating effects of rising sea levels destroy the remnants of the human race. Only partly true, of course, but I enjoy sharing with my friends. Ciao.

  30. amanfromMars Silver badge

    AI Leading Question on which to Ponder and Speculate

    "PS Is it just me or is there a sense that a people's revolution may be in the air?" ...... By Tim Posted Thursday 12th March 2009 15:56 GMT

    Tim,

    What and with Whom do you think Controls CyberSpace with Command of Computers and Communications and thus Practically Everything, Virtually? ......... Revolting People or Next Generation Virtual Machinery Running Exercises and Operations as Emergent CyberIntelAIgent Beings/Civilised Programs/Global Programmers with a Universal Virtual Force of Immaculately Resourced Assets?

    Now would that be Revolutionary or Evolutionary?

    And how would you try to stop IT even if you could, which you can't, and therefore one really shouldn't even try, for you will then be identified as a Dangerous Idiot by IT and IT Bites and doesn't take Prisoners or Bother with Fools ..... and for such Wasters, all that IT Needs to Do is just Direct the Mob to their Feed.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well

    If an ISP charged me less provided I didn't try to visit .gov.uk or .eu, well, there might be something to be said for that deal .... :-)

  32. ElFatbob

    not surprising really

    Agree with Tim about an agenda being afoot here...

    And with other comments about the cluelessness of this government.

    Also smacks of the dying-day madness you seem to see with govenrments that know they are on their last legs.

    Looking forward to an election. I used to vote Labour, but due to this government's actions (over the last 8 years particularly), i can't see myself voting Labour ever again.

  33. Dave Bell

    Context is almost every thing

    This call for transparency isn't a bad thing, What does "unlimited" mean? But, used alone, it would allow some nasty stuff. I reckon it needs a careful look.

  34. Nebulo
    Thumb Down

    It still amazes me sometimes

    how quickly an idea becomes corrupted when it has the misfortune to attract the attention of a "government" which exists solely to serve the interests of the greedy scum who form the international "free market". Strange how the market's "freedom" always acts to reduce the common person's "freedom" ... though to be fair, reduction of the common person's freedom is so transparently the core of recent government policy that it would be more surprising were it otherwise.

    Having said which, I'd be happy to pay a lot lot less for permission to access one address only, so long as that one address gave me a bloody good hard encrypted pipeline out of this nasty little prison camp and into a free country.

  35. b166er

    Less Great Britain

    More Great Firewall

    Ah well, it'll all pop soon. See you in the second sixties. Or the Third World War :(

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really Governments Hate the Internet

    Makes a certain conspiracy floating round the internet about its demise in 2012 seem not so daft!

  37. Pierre

    ISP not WSP

    This is more of the "internet=www" madness. I mean, it's bad enough that I might have to pay extra for some parts of the web, but the real problem doesn't lie there. It's hard enough to find a good USENET server as it is, now if I cannot have nntp traffic at all I'll get mad. And all the shops who use their own protocol would go bust (that would include online games and instant messengers, of course, but more importantly all subversion clones/derivatives). Also, what about my beloved MUDs? Will there be enough demand to drive an offer for bare telnet connections? I doubt it.

    Don't touch my internet!

  38. Roger Houghton
    Thumb Down

    Don't panic

    It's about what ISPs are allowed to offer, not what the government will permit you to see. The original version would mean ISPs couldn't offer a cut-price restricted connection while the second would allow it (i.e. exactly what the situation is at present - the AOL model). No doubt it follows lobbying by ISPs but the regulator does not have power to dictate which model an ISP adopts.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    It all depends really...

    ... on how this would all work.

    If you pay for internet access, then you should get just that... full internet access.

    If they want a model where people can pay an additional fee and say get free music downloads from GoogleTunes or live sport through iSkySportsRipoff, then that seems ok to me too.

    Additionally, if they want to allow a business model where ISP's can offer FREE filtered Internet access (maybe to allow access to main news websites and government/council websites), that's alright with me too.

    But, if it allows ISP's to basically make money by forcing content providers to jump into bed with them, otherwise they'll block access for their users, then I'm 100% against it!

    Paris, because I'd pay extra to watch her subscription website.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Truism?

    A limitation is a limitation?

    What has to be gained by such a limitation other than a mere fudge and compromise of service standards that are already truly dire?

  41. Steve Roper
    Flame

    What this is really about

    is the re-regulation and centralised control of information distribution, and so it is Big Media as well as governments that want this. These entities would love nothing more than a return to the past where all broadcast news, entertainment and information was controlled by a select group of big companies, all of whose leaders have political agendas to push.

    The openness of the internet, in giving everyone both a voice and unrestricted access to alternate viewpoints and thus undermining attempts at mass propaganda, is anathema to these people. How best to bring it back under control, than to allow the vast majority of the public to access only the big companies' and government's websites where the flow of information can once again be safely controlled? Even if other websites are still permitted, what's the good when only those prepared to pay exorbitant prices to see them, will be able to? The majority public will once again get their news and entertainment from carefully controlled sources and propaganda and social engineering will be unopposed and unopposable.

    I might point that there are people even here that are quite happy to have their information regulated in this way, like AC "It all depends really" with his/her:

    "if they want to allow a business model where ISP's can offer FREE filtered Internet access (maybe to allow access to main news websites and government/council websites), that's alright with me too."

    Now think about what you just said, AC. If it's FREE, how many people will go with that rather than pay for an internet connection where they can read opposing viewpoints? What would you think now if this was in place and you could see Phorm's website but not Dephormation.org.uk, because you only wanted a free connection? Would you have a problem with Phorm still, given that you (and most of the rest of the world) now have only one side of the story? What chance would we have of opposing Phorm and other atrocities if those who oppose them can now reach only the few who actually bother to pay for an internet connection?

    No, the very thought that this is even being discussed makes me sick to my stomach. So much for the informational freedom the Internet brought us. It was only a matter of time.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Why does V for Vendetta suddenly sound that little closer

    Pirate logo in lew of a Guy Falks mask.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    So this is an example of

    free trade in a common market, is it? As far as know, ISP's already do this sort of thing, there are thousands of them in the UK alone, and all of them offer different levels of service. Sky, for instance, do not run a proper smtp server, others limit the amount of data that can be downloaded etc.

    I suspect that what the UK government wants has not been mentioned yet, that is that the government want to restrict ISP's ability to provide a full service. If somebody wanted to look at fundamentalist Christian or Muslim sites for instance, or anything else that they do not want it's poor imprisoned subjects to look at.

    Interestingly, the Chinese have managed to do this on their own, they did not need to go cap in hand to some anti-democratic body (like the EU) that they had given law-making powers to. No, the Chinese are quite capable of having their own anti-democratic government.

    The reality is that on can never and should never trust a politician.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burnham

    I've been watching Burnham quite closely for a while now. He's the man who's pleased that "secular commentators are afraid to criticise" the religiously minded http://tinyurl.com/co9sqy. Our tradition of secular politics is threatened in all sorts of ways, and this would seem to be the latest item in this god bothering individual's sights.

  45. Ascylto

    Wrong!

    Your headline begins "UK.gov thinks..."

    No it doesn't!

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    I think I understand - kill me now

    This would allow the Guvmint to provide spavined internet access to all and sundry to give everyone online "interaction" with Jobcentre Plus, DVLA etc., allowing them to announce that they no longer need so many front line public-facing offices, and the resource (translation: people) to run them.

    Green because they're all pod-people. Don't go to sleep...

  47. Alan
    Stop

    Not suprised

    This goverment just goes from bad to worse , dragging the country with it.

    Thought they were wank 10 years ago , still think they are wank.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Norwegians have agreed a good set of principles

    I inputted into the Digital Britain report directly, write to apply, blogged etc the need to adopt the set of principles adopted by the Norwegians regulator, it balances nicely the need for an open internet, the transparency needed to understand the substance of each package, the customers right to use his connection as his chooses, with the reality of having to manage peak hour congestion.

    More detail here - http://bbbritain.co.uk/netneutrality.aspx

    Come on the Reg, publish the Norwegian alternative . The UK Internet is not a Cable TV network add on.

    Although the comments on the inter Digital Britain report finished last night there is still an opportunity to try and get the tone changed.

    I am not sure how you can call for a Universal Broadband Service without making a similar commitment to an openn internet with full transparency. How else would expect to run key services in a consistent way across all networks?

  49. Steven Snape
    Alert

    No free internet

    Not really suprising as it would instantly put providers out of business and chances are if it was free the government would find a way of taxing use of it. Free internet would lose the government £1,000,000's.

    And all this Iplayer bandwidth hogging that ISP's are complaining about is seriously annoying as I remember watching Tomorrows World many years ago and a bod from ClaraNet was predicting and hyping up that IPTV would be a big thing in the future. So ISP's in general cant say they didnt see it coming!

  50. Roger Houghton

    Storm in a teacup

    This story is nonsense. There's nothing in the proposed amendments about government control of Internet access. It's solely about the regulator - whether ISPs are allowed to sell a service with restricted access if they wish. There are no proposed powers to stop ISPs from offering full access to the Internet if that's what people want to buy. The regulator can no more prevent ISPs offering an unrestricted service than OfCom can dictate which telephone numbers BT allows you to phone.

  51. Roger Houghton

    Imagine...

    "Imagine, for a moment, a world in which half the ISPs permitted their customers to access Google (or even Wikipedia) and the other half did not."

    After which imagine a world in which the half not offering the full access try to sign up any new customers while the other ISPs are pinching all their existing ones.

  52. Pierre

    "Sky, for instance, do not run a proper smtp server"

    And how is it supposed to be a bad thing? My ISP does run a proper SMTP proxy server, and they are silently blocking all SMTP traffic that doesn't go through it, which means I have to change my mail client's settings each time I change location. How very convenient. Plus, these b*stards of course implement some dodgy rotten stupid blacklists and braindead filtering methods on said SMTP proxy, so some of my legit incoming mails are silently blocked as well. I'd go for an ISP without a SMTP proxy server anytime.

  53. Pierre
    Stop

    "Storm in a teacup" Really? (@Roger)

    Yeah, you're right, ISPs should be allowed to provide only the parts of the internet that are used by more than 90% of the population. Enjoy your Youtube-and-WoW-only internet (OK, put Wikipedia and Google in, too). And these restrictions won't kill the ISPs, as you seem to think. Quite the contrary. Most of their customers will be more than happy. Soon, ther will be no alternative offer as they would not be "competitive" enough. It's not like some big guys would pay the ISPs to cut their smaller competitors off, is it? "Sorry, http://www.debian.org could not be reached. Do you want to go to http://www.microsoft.com instead?"

    And that is only the www. Now imagine obscure protocols...

    I"ll take your phone analogy as a joke. The real analogy would be "sorry your call cannot be successfully routed. Not enough people call Luton, this destination has been removed from your package". I mean, who makes phone calls to Luton anyway? Might as well save money and remove it from the phone grid.

  54. Roger Houghton

    Re. "Storm in a teacup" Really?

    "Yeah, you're right, ISPs should be allowed to provide only the parts of the internet that are used by more than 90% of the population."

    But that's what they're allowed to do at the moment. I don't see any current ISP offering a restricted service, though; just advertising exaggerated speeds and 'unlimited' downloads while not telling you about their traffic management practices.

  55. Roger Houghton

    Re. "Storm in a teacup" Really?

    "ISPs should be allowed to provide only the parts of the internet that are used by more than 90% of the population."

    But what's in it for the ISP? Surely it's cheaper and a lot easier not to have to filter your customers' activities. More work for less income seems a strange choice for an ISP.

  56. Pierre

    "More work for less income seems a strange choice for an ISP."

    Gzactly my thought. And that's why it's important to keep them in line using well-thought regulation. If not, everything but the most profitable segments will disappear, which is *not* a good thing.

    Like, not making extra profit by watering down baby milk and hiding this with melamine is a strange choice for baby milk producers, that's why it needs to be forbidden.

    And about the filtering part, well it's their choice, they don't *have* to. Actually, them doing so is not clearly legal. Kind of a grey area.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    do these people just no realise how the net works?

    with the greatest will in the world, unless the ISP's start blocking access to proxies (such as ssh tunnelling proxies, anonymisation, and https proxies), there is absolutely no point in restricting access to specific websites.

    Have these people never heard of the little plugin that you can download for firefox (if they've even heard of firefox), called foxyproxy?

    I'll just send all of my web traffic down an SSH tunnel (encrypted of course) to this machine that I can get to and lo and behold the internet is mine.....

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