I’ve written to Cambridge’s MP David Howarth (copying the Leader of the House) urging him not to allow the Digital Economy Bill to be rushed through Parliament:
Dear Mr Howarth MP,
I am writing to ask you to do all you can to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through, without proper scrutiny by the House of Commons, in the last few weeks of this Parliament.
As you are no doubt aware the bill contains provisions which would allow the state to disconnect people from the internet without due legal process, introduces a regime of collective punishments and establishes an infrastructure for state censorship of the web and wider internet. Clause 18 (Preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement) is particularly badly drafted and I would hope the potential for abuse is clear. If there is to be state censorship, and I don’t think there ought be following an allegation of copyright etc. infringement, there are a lack of safeguards to ensure openness and transparency over how those powers have been applied;
As drafted the disconnection provisions do not just potentially affect domestic users but commercial operations too. If companies cannot be assured the UK state won’t arbitrarily disconnect them from the resources they need to operate then the country will become a less attractive place to invest and we may lose the knowledge based digital industries which have the potential be a major force enabling the UK to trade its way out of its currently dire economic situation.
I am concerned that many aspects of this Bill, particularly the increase in maximum penalties for copyright etc. infringement have come about in an attempt to preserve the profits of certain businesses; I am concerned the big picture has been missed as a result of a focus on specific special interest groups.
On another area affected by the bill, domain registration, while I believe there ought be more democratic influence over the running of the .uk registry to ensure it operates in the national interest the powers in clause 19 of the bill amount to giving a minister the ability to take over and nationalise a registry without justification. The circumstances in which a takeover could take place are ludicrously widely drawn.
Also; the provisions relating to the switch off for digital radio, like many of this Bill’s provisions, take key decisions away from MPs.
Taken together I think that all these points show that this Bill needs to be allowed to fall, giving the next Parliament the chance to find a balanced response, in the national interest, to the matters being raised. It is too complex, too important, and the current state of the Bill to badly drafted for it to be dealt with in the time left.
- Online system from “38 degrees” for lobbying the Leader of the House on this subject.
- Concern as Lords pass digital economy bill to Commons – Guardian
- Labour MP Tom Watson speaking in Parliament on the 18th of March saying: “I remain concerned about the Digital Economy Bill, and in particular the complex technical measures on copyright reform. If the House were asked to consider this in the wash-up, the law of unintended consequences might kick in.”
- Why Should You Care About The Digital Economy Bill? – Open Rights Group