Citizen & Consumer Issues

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The Consumer Forum for Communications (CFC) promotes dialogue and information-sharing between consumer bodies and other relevant organisations about issues of common concern relating to communications policy and developments at UK, European and international level.

The Forum feeds into Ofcom’s policy priorities and thinking, and has a particular brief to ensure that the views and needs of consumers in vulnerable circumstances are represented in debate about communications issues. It has an independent chair, who is paid by Ofcom.

REVIEW

Views sought
DP

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) has released its much vaunted, year long, study “Spreading the benefits of Digital Participation”, its blueprint for universal digital participation in Scotland. It stipulates three priority areas - access, motivation and skills development.

The internet needs to be a safe place
Google Glass

What comes after the mobile smart phone as we know it today? We’ve been talking to experts, reading what we can, and trying to imagine possible futures.

But we’re finding it very hard to gain a clear idea about what comes next. Many experts believe that we will get more of the same, such as an ever more powerful mobile phone that operates as a hub for multiple devices, ranging from keyboards to screens and other devices controlled by the hub*.

Issues over privacy and security will become even more critical to our lives
Welsh flag

The big issue for the Advisory Committee for Wales is coverage, be it in telecommunications or broadcast media. 

The issue is driven by the absence of profitable commercial forces to provide citizens and businesses with the benefits of broadcast plurality and fast communications whether ‘on the move’ or at premises.

Mobile coverage for customers ‘on the move’ in Wales is poor.  It is made worse by the absence of roaming (other than for emergencies) and the absence of ‘use it or lose it’ clauses in mobile licences. 

Work needed to better understand problems faced by consumers
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Although it’s been around for a few months, I’ve only just discovered Natali Helberger’s paper for BEUC Forms matter: informing consumers effectively.

Give us your feedback
Racial diversity

The lovely thing about computers is that they have search facilities when it comes to scouring key words in documents. When you put ‘diversity’ into Ofcom’s Annual Plan 2014-15 it makes five references in its thousands of words.

All of them are rather anodyne, giving the impression to those of us passionate about diversity that it really is not at the heart of this regulator’s thinking, even though it is. Take, for example:

The eye has been taken off the racial diversity ball
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Russell George (@russ_george) was elected as the Welsh Conservative AM for Montgomeryshire in 2011. He owns a retail business in Newtown town centre. He was elected to Powys County Council in 2008. He is the chair of the Assembly’s Cross Party Group for Digital Communication and Shadow Minister for Agriculture & Natural Resources.

Heightened political interest in communications issues
cheap tablet

Wouldn’t it be great if Scotland could be a world leader in digital inclusion, instead of always playing catch-up?

Wouldn’t it be great if Scotland could be a world leader in digital inclusion, instead of always playing catch-up?
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I spoke at a conference recently organized by ‘sociitm’, a group of local government practitioners in the UK who are focused on ‘delivering public services in the digital age’.

They began in organizing efforts to improve website development and continue to pursue a widening range of online points of access to public services.

Agencies are becoming interrelated
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The Scottish Government has just published Scotland’s Future, its hefty policy blueprint for independence.

One section of this document is of special relevance to Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Scotland(ACS), namely Chapter 9, which deals with how the Scottish Government envisages the future of broadcasting and communications regulation in an independent country.

The debate steps up a gear
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