The Digital Economy Bill – not a good idea

You may have seen this Tweet from me last week:

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I wrote to Jeremy because there are a number of problems with the Digital Economy Bill and the rush of amendments and further amendments suggests to me that in the hurry to pass the Bill into law before the general election these problems aren’t likely to get ironed out.  In fact it seems that the Bill might get worse as there have been amendments and proposed counter amendments which the government is now saying it will take into account itself in a redraft as part of the ‘wash up’ process designed to help speed bills through Parliament before the election.

My main problem with the Bill is that it contains a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ provision which will force ISPs to disconnect subscribers who are suspected of illegal file sharing.  That is ‘suspected’ not ‘proven’ and flies in the face of the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ principle that has been the bedrock of our judicial system for hundreds of years.  Other problems include the possibility that ISPs could be forced to block access to websites which host significant amounts of copyrighted material – e.g. the whole of YouTube, and also that public hotspot providers could end up liable for the activities of people using their networks.  There is a lot more detail in the Guardian and on Techdirt.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I got this reply from Jeremy yesterday:

Dear Nic  Brisbourne

Thanks for your recent email about the Digital Economy Bill. The subject is complex and the bill is proving to be hugely contentious; because of this it is crucial, more than ever, that Parliament fulfils its democratic duty and gives the bill proper debate and scrutiny.

Although it is imperative that jobs in the creative industries are protected, and it is right that artists be paid fairly for work they produce, the bill, as it stands, seems to be heavily weighted in favour of rich and powerful copyright holding companies.

Provisions to suspend file sharers’ connections and to require internet service providers to block access to websites hosting “substantial” amounts of copyrighted material are an over reaction, dangerously intrusive and will only prove to be counter productive.

You may be aware that the next significant stage for the bill will be its second reading in the House of Commons. Despite the front bench consensus there is significant back bench concern on all sides, and I and my colleagues will do all we can to ensure the bill is not rushed through the House without proper debate and scrutiny.

Yours sincerely

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Jeremy Corbyn MP

Islington North

T 020 7219 3545

F 020 7219 2328

E [email protected]

So it looks like the letters to MPs are having an effect.  If you are also against this bill you can quickly write to your MP via this link.