TalkTalk is passionate about ensuring the digital economy works for the whole of Britain. That’s why for the last few years we’ve been campaigning for a fairer telecoms market that puts consumers at the heart of the digital revolution, as well as better support for those that risk being left behind. We’re delighted that the Government is now taking action, with a new Bill designed to give consumers more of the support and protection they deserve.
The new Digital Economy Bill was debated in the House of Lords this week. Whilst some of the details are still to be decided, there’s already a lot for consumers to cheer, including:
New rules to help consumers switch provider when things go wrong – TalkTalk has long campaigned for simplified switching, making it easier for customers to change provider in search of better service or cheaper deals. Large providers have resisted change, preferring to make switching complex and laborious. The Bill will remove many of the obstacles customers face and give them more power to vote with their feet if they’re unhappy. That’s great news for customers.
Giving the regulator more power to protect customers – Customers need a strong Ofcom that is capable of standing up to big providers and ensuring they deliver for customers. At present, it’s too easy for incumbents to tie Ofcom up in legal knots, appealing decisions and delaying reforms that benefit customers. The Bill reduces the power of providers to frustrate Ofcom with spurious legal appeals. That should mean a stronger, more forceful regulator that is better able to do what’s right for customers.
More support for those without the digital skills they need – Over 10 million UK adults lack basic digital skills, meaning they struggle to send emails and bank or shop online. As more and more of our economy and public services move online, those without skills can find themselves locked out of the benefits. The new Bill includes free digital skills training for those that need it, funded from the Adult Education Budget. It’s a critical part of ensuring nobody is left behind as Britain embraces a digital future.
Measures to keep children safe online – TalkTalk has always led industry efforts to help keep children safe online. We were the first UK ISP to introduce free parental filters, which put parents in control of what content their children accessed by any device connected to the home wifi. The Bill goes one step further to tackle the issue at source, forcing pornography websites to ensure that only over 18s can access adult content. If they refuse, payment providers, online advertisers and ISPs would be legally able to withdraw their services, potentially putting offending websites out of business. The exact details are still subject to debate, but if successful, it could be an important part of how we ensure children can access the best of the internet whilst being shielded from the worst of it.
Many of the measures in the Digital Economy Bill are long overdue. Whilst much of the industry has resisted change, TalkTalk is proud to have led the calls for reform. As the Bill complete its final passage through Parliament, TalkTalk will continue to campaign for a fairer telecoms market that puts customers first, and a safer, more inclusive online world.