Digital Economy Bill rushed through by MPs who know nothing about it
With a general election on the way, we got to see a true, albeit grim example of democracy in action last night, as the controversial Digital Economy Bill was hurriedly passed as part of the government’s ‘washing up’ programme ahead of the big vote.
Once the bill becomes law, internet service providers will be obliged to send letters to any of their subscribers linked to alleged copyright infringements. Copyright holders will also be able to apply for a court order to gain access to the names and addresses of repeat offenders and take legal action against them. Meanwhile, ISPs will also be able to suspend accounts of offenders.
MP Tom Watson stated that over 20,000 people have emailed their MPs over the past week in protest at some of the aspects of the bill – including the fact that people who live in the same building as ‘copyright thieves’ could find themselves caught up in legal action, despite being innocent of any crime.
The already-muddled piece of proposed legislation, skewed by ‘lobbying’ from the creative industries (and non-UK citizen David Geffen, while playing host to Lord Mandelson on his big yacht) could have a massive effect on how the Internet is used in the UK but it was rushed through almost unchecked with just a handful of MPs present to discuss its various clauses. Of course, when it came to the vote, hordes of them swarmed in from the bar to put their name to a bill that they knew nothing about.
We can’t really sum up how we feel about it any better than Skeptobot’s excellent, detailed blog post which covers how the evening unfolded in the House Of Commons. So go to there.
EDIT: Oh, and our very own Mof Gimmers has had a bit of a rant about it all as well.