10 questions to ask your MP about the Digital Economy Bill
Over the next four weeks, you may be lucky enough to receive a doorstep visit from your MP. If so, it's the perfect opportunity to ask them about their views on the Digital Economy Bill. There are far, far more important issues to discuss - after all, you're voting on the next five years of government and all that entails, but by answering a few questions about the controversial Bill passed this week, you'll get a fair idea of their temperament, intelligence and honesty.
Start with pleasantries about the weather and what a nice jumper/shoes they're wearing.
1. Ask if they voted for or against the Digital Economy Bill. There's a reasonable chance they did neither, since plenty of MPs couldn't be bothered to even vote.
(find out if and how your MP voted here)
2. Ask if they attended the second reading of the Digital Economy Bill.
(you can find the answer to this at Did My MP Show Up Or Not - thanks to reader ClamMan for the link)
3. If not, why not? Aren't ministers meant to represent the public in the passing of law?
(they may point out that many readings see few MPs attend and, uh, they were busy that evening)
Point out that even at its peak, only 40 MPs were in attendance at the second reading - about 6 per cent of the total number of MPs, meaning over 600 MPs made similar excuses for not representing their constituents.
(they may point out that many MPs only enter the chambers if they have cause or reason to speak on a particular bill)
4. Ask why they had no opinion to offer on a bill that directly impacts the future media consumption and lifestyle habits of three quarters of the UK population.
5. Ask if they know what 'IP' in 'IP address' stands for. If they don't, point out that MP Stephen Timms doesn't either, and he's the minister responsible for the Digital Economy Bill.
6. Ask whether they are aware that under the Bill, ISP customers are now accountable for infringements of copyright - rather than the end user - meaning that entirely innocent individuals can potentially have their account suspended and be prosecuted.
7. Ask if they're aware that one of the country's largest mobile and broadband providers, Talk Talk, is vehemently opposed to the Bill.
8. Slightly off-topic, but sticking to the Digital Economy Bill, what did they think of both the Conservatives and Labour using a copyright image without permission in their recent Ashes to Ashes pissing contest?
9. Ask what influence they feel the entertainment industry had on the Digital Economy Bill. Ask if they're aware that the music industry had key requests entered directly into the Bill.
10. Ask if they genuinely believe that copyright theft is destroying the music industry and if so, what is their source of information? Chances are it's wrong.
11. Ask if they use a WiFi router at home. If so, are they aware in the future they could be liable for prosecution simply for switching their router on, should a third party decide to break their relatively timid encryption and download copyright material?
12. Are they aware that since ISPs could be forced to block any websites that may allow copyright infringement, this means the Bill has the power to see the likes of YouTube and Google blocked? You know, like in China?
Alright, that's far more than ten questions, but we doubt you'll get too far before they express an interest to talk at you about their agenda. At which point, feel free to remember that doctor's appointment you didn't have.