Europe is fast approaching a new set of Directives to regulate European law, from four directions:
- The Audiovisual Media Services Directive was enacted on 18 December 2007;
- The new review of the Electronic Communications Services Framework (5 Directives and a Regulation) is taking place in the course of 2008;
- The Electronic Commerce Directive remains under constant review and is in tension with several national laws;
- The Consumer Acquis (8 Directives) is currently being reviewed.
This flurry of legislative activity at European level ties in with a set of activities at UK level that affect the Internet environment — the implementation of the governmental response to the Gowers Review, the preparations for reform of the Wireless Telegraphy Act to make spectrum secondary trading easier.
There may well be reform of the Communications Act 2003, flagged up by outgoing Culture Secretary James Purnell in his Oxford speech of 16 January 2008 — presumably after the next General Election and therefore timed to coincide with implementation of the European Directives, whether AVMS (by end-2009) or ECS (by 2010-11).
Notably, there is also significant competition law interest in the Internet aside from the “usual suspects” in telecoms — from the Google-Doubleclick merger to the failed Microsoft-Yahoo! Merger. The 2008 Forum will expand its focus a little by engaging with this debate — both from a law and economics viewpoint, but also in terms of the consumer, copyright and privacy law implications, as well as the ever-developing role of the Internet intermediary as enshrined in the E-Commerce Directive.
You can now listen to all the speakers (including my two contributions) at their website. More from Lilian Edwards.