Why Care?

On Monday, the House of Lords passed the Digital Economy Bill as amended onto the House of Commons, despite one Lord calling it "a spatchcock that does part of the work it was intended to do but not all of it". Now, it is likely to be rushed through the Commons without proper scrutiny.

Write to your MP to ensure that this doesn't happen - 38 Degrees and the Open Rights Group have teamed up to make it really easy: all you have to do is tell them your postcode, name and email address, and you can join over 10,000 people who have already written to their MPs. Make your voice heard - do it now!

Why Should I Care?

Consumers and companies (including Google, Facebook and Internet Service Providers themselves) alike are up in arms about the Bill, which proposes that an Internet connection could be cut off if there is suspicion that it is being used for the downloading of copyrighted content. This is very disturbing:

  • Although proof is required before disconnection, the evidence does not have to relate to you: you can be punished for the actions of a friend or even a neighbour who has used your Internet connection.
  • Rights holders could have the power to demand that sites they believe to contravene copyright law be blocked by ISPs. Right now, we don't know what the govrnment will propose, as they have yet to draft their new proposal
  • As it is not the perpetrator that is punished, as you might expect, but the owner of the connection, and others using it, cafés and bars may have to stop providing wifi.

Regardless of what you do or don't do, you could be punished for the actions of others because of laws put in place by the Digital Economy Bill: if you have unsecured wifi in your home, you could be punished; if you use the Internet at your local coffee shop or library, you could lose access to that connection.

Justice would not be completely out of reach: you could appeal, but you would have to pay for the privilege, and you wouldn't be eligible for any legal aid. Reasons for appeal are limited, and unlike in a trial, the onus would not be on rights holders to prove your guilt: you would be responsible for proving your innocence.

This will be voted upon in the very near future by your MP, and we need to ensure that the Bill is properly debated, and that all MPs know how dangerous it is to individuals and small businesses. If we don't ensure that it is properly scrutinised, the Bill could pass and have severe effects on the freedom and rights of innocent people, educational establishments and small businesses alike.

Don't let this Bill get rushed through without a proper debate: write to your MP now!