November 18, 2009 | Jim Killock

Queen’s Speech introduces disconnection

The innocuous sounding Digital Economy Bill will include proposals for a ‘Three Strikes’ internet disconnection law.

We believe these laws will be illegal under European law. The new Amendment 138 appears to guarantee a prior legal process and hearing before disconnection occurs – where our government is proposing an appeal mechanism, for those who choose to take it up.

Appeals mechanisms may be appropriate when it is clear that evidence is robust, and the punishment is clear: but with this proposal neither is true. Evidence cannot show who may have infringed copyright, only what connection was used. And the punishment could have an enormous range of effects, from being disruptive to removing someone’s ability to earn a living.

For both these reasons, disconnection should only ever be imposed as the result of a court hearing.

This is before we consider that these proposals will not solve anything. As we now hear in South Korea, rights holders are pushing for new, harsher measures now that they find ‘three strikes’ hasn’t answered all of their problems. Mandelson's proposals could easily be the first step in a gradual war by the state and rights holders to restrict services on the net.

The internet and our rights need defending.

We urge you to write or phone your MP today, to ask them to oppose these draconian proposals.

Comments (5)

  1. Trevor:
    Nov 20, 2009 at 02:17 PM

    It's out:

    It's exactly what Cory Doctorow was saying on Boing Boing... so it's really bad.

  2. Anonymous:
    Nov 21, 2009 at 06:25 PM

    We need to get across to the music industry that criminalizing your customers will not achieve the effect they're hoping for. Even if they stop all illegal downloads (which is impossible), that still won't translate into sales. If anything, it will put customers off.

    I love music. I'm one of a dying breed who still regularly buys CDs and DVDs from record shops on almost a weekly basis, but if this draconian proposal becomes law, I will not be buying any more. I just can't bring myself to support any industry that refuses to adapt and condones trampling over my rights in such a manner.

    If more people pledged to boycott the industry, maybe they would think again.

    How can our Government possibly criticise China's Internet censorship when they are proposing this?

  3. Mark Pack:
    Nov 19, 2009 at 12:03 AM

    I understand why you're using the "three strikes and you're out" phrase to describe the proposals, but I think it's a mistake because it cedes too much ground to the Government.

    "Three strikes and you're out" actually sounds quite reasonable - you only get punished at the third time of asking etc - and so makes the Government policy sound better than the roulette it really is.

    I've expanded on this point at

  4. Mark Jackson (ISPreview):
    Nov 19, 2009 at 08:50 AM

    I fear there is very little that can be done to stop it, especially since the Conservatives seem to be giving this some degree of support. Couple that with the new EU Telecoms law, which is so open to interpretation that you could drop an entire planet through it and nobody would notice, and it seems like very little could stop the government simply setting up a kangaroo court or ineffective appeals process prior to disconnection.

    Just how does somebody who has had their Wi-Fi connection hijacked by hackers and used for downloading prove it? It is an evidence-less crime.

  5. Jim Killock:
    Nov 19, 2009 at 09:57 AM

    There's opposition within Parliament, and there's little time to get this Bill through. So there's a lot to play for, Mark J. Plus MPs get nervous towards an election. They should be more open to reasonable arguments about controversial policies.