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.