Ed Vaizey, the Communications minister, has re-iterated his preference for a light-touch approach to Internet regulation, and this has been backed by the CEO of Virgin Media, Neil Berkett. Both were speaking today at the Intellect 2011 Consumer Electronics Conference in London. Vaizey queried BT's approach to litigating against the Digital Economy Act, which it failed to get overturned when the courts ruled they couldn't appeal the judicial review. Vaizey went on to speak of favouring an industry led approach to handling net-neutrality and industry forming a voluntary system to block access to unwanted and illegal content.
"There are prominent web sites that stream live football or sell movies without permission from rights holders, and we should look at ways of stopping them. No-one is saying business models don't have to change, but that doesn't mean you sit back and let people rip off other people's content.
There are rumours of a voluntary system being implemented in the US and that would be a significant game-changer. We want industry to find a way forward where the most egregious sites can [be taken offline].Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister
The Virgin Media chief, Neil Berkett, agreed that regulation was not needed in our market as the UK was quite different to the US broadband market which was generally dominated by only one or two providers offering broadband services in an area. Berkett said that the highly competitive broadband industry in the UK would allow the market to self-regulate, implying that customers would vote with their feet if their broadband services wasn't up to scratch. He also raised issues about site blocking but differs from Ed Vaizey in that he believes that blocking people without providing them an alternative, legal source of the content they are accessing people will be unlikely to change their behaviour.
"Site blocking is a possible part of the solution, but it's not the solution. How do we go about making sure it's the right site that's being blocked and ensure we have a regime that means if a site has to be blocked, everybody blocks it?
We have to do more to convince people that stealing is wrong when many people don't see it as such. Beating them over the head with a stick is not a good start. We need to encourage people to change their behaviour."Neil Berkett, (CEO) Virgin Media