Digital Britain report overlooked consumer issues

Lord Stephen Carter (pictured) has acknowledged a lack of content about consumer issues such as privacy, internet neutrality and behavioural targeting within January’s interim Digital Britain report.

Speaking at today’s Digital Britain Summit, Lord Carter, the author of the report, conceded the Interim report leant heavily towards infrastructure and capability.

“It’s a fair criticism of the report that it spent longer on the supply side than the demand side,” said Carter. “I take the view that, broadly, the government can have more purchase on the supply side than the demand side.”

However, Carter alluded the full report would include more about consumer rights and concerns online.

He added that the government also needed to do more to engage with and educate a large share of the population yet fully embrace digital technologies.

“There’s a huge educational and literacy question – you’ve got between 35-40% of the population not engaged; that is a material, social policy question that we need to address both nationally and internationally,” he said.

When queried on whether networks should open up completely and have less power over content consumers can access, Lord Carter said he does not think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with network operators being able to control traffic.

“It has to be done transparently, and there needs to be protections about how that power is exercised,” he said.

“But it doesn’t seem to me to be commercially illegitimate or indeed acting in the consumers’ disinterest to allow network operators that opportunity.”

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