July 06, 2016 | Pam Cowburn

Open Rights Group response to Digital Economy Bill

Yesterday, the Digital Economy Bill had its first reading in Parliament.


The Bill includes welcome proposals that mean UK homes and businesses have a right to access Broadband. However, the Bill also includes plans for data sharing between government departments and proposals for ten year sentences for online copyright infringement.

Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:

“The Government is proposing that people who breach copyright online should receive up to ten years in prison to bring sentencing in line with physical copyright theft. Copyright needs to be protected but the proposals could mean that individuals who share or link to files could receive custodial sentences – even if they have not made any financial gain. This would be excessive and could mean that sharing a file online would lead to a greater custodial sentence than physical theft.”

Killock added:

“Other worrying parts of the Bill are proposals to make data sharing between government departments easier. While we understand the drive for greater efficiency, the Government needs to make a better case for why data sharing programmes are needed. It is misguided to think that social problems can be easily solved simply by making more data available to its departments. We need clarification about how safeguards to protect personal information, for example data about births and marriages, will be enforced.”

The Digital Economy Bill also includes proposals to compel adult sites to provide age verification to prevent under 18s from visiting their sites but it is still unclear how they propose to enact this.

For more information, contact pam@openrightsgroup.org