House of Commons Library

Digital Economy Bill: Lords Amendments

Published Monday, April 24, 2017

Lords amendments to the Digital Economy Bill will be considered by the House of Commons on 26 April 2017. There are 289 amendments, and this paper outlines the key changes put forward.

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The Digital Economy Bill was published in July 2016 and considered by the Commons in Autumn 2016, completing Commons stages on 28 November 2016. It was introduced into the House of Lords on 29 November, and third reading took place on 5 April 2017.

The Bill contains a large number of amendments. The majority number of these amendments relate to the data sharing proposals in the Bill and have been put forward by the Government. It does however introduce a number of new measures around television, secondary ticketing, mobile phone use in drug dealing, e-book lending, Information Commissioner charges and managing the pension liabilities of BT/Openreach.

An outline of the Bill and its purpose is given in the Library’s paper prepared for second reading: Commons Library analysis of the Digital Economy Bill (September 2016).

The key amendments made to the Bill in the Lords are:

  • Opposition amendments putting more detail in primary legislation on contents of the future order for the Universal Service Obligation (USO);
  • Opposition amendments around mobile phone bill limits and switching;
  • Changes to the definition of pornographic material to be covered by the age verification controls and other amendments on the way age verification would work (Government amendments);
  • Opposition amendments were added on a code of practice for social media;
  • Government amendments were made to the data sharing elements of the Bill (and these are the majority of amendments overall);
  • Amendments with regard to a BBC Licence Fee Commission, the provision of children’s TV, e-book lending, accessibility of on-demand television, electronic programming guides, conditions around televising events of national interest;
  • Government amendments to provide a power to introduce an offence to use bots to purchase tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events in excess of the maximum allowed;
  • Government amendments that would allow the blocking of mobile phones used for drug dealing;
  • Government amendments to deal with pension liabilities relating to BT/Openreach structural changes, and around Information Commissioner charges.

Originally, the Bill extended to the whole of the UK with two exceptions: sharing data in relation to civil registration does not apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland, while the provisions for sharing energy supplier data do not apply in Northern Ireland. New data sharing provisions proposed in the amendments relating to water poverty only apply to England and Wales.

A list of Lords amendments to be considered is available along with explanatory notes. Amendments 249 to 252 create a charging power in relation to the Information Commissioner so will be subject to a ways and means resolution.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7953

Authors: Edward Potton; Lorna Booth; John Woodhouse; Lorraine Conway; Djuna Thurley; Sally Lipscombe

Topics: Broadcasting, Drugs crimes, Internet and cybercrime, Libraries, Telecommunications, Utilities

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