Open Right Group has criticised parts of the Digital Economy Bill (DEB), which has its second reading in the House of Commons today. While the Bill includes some beneficial proposals, there are worrying plans that could affect UK citizens’ rights.
Age verification for porn sites
The DEB includes plans to oblige porn websites to set up age verification to prevent under 18s from seeing adult content.
Executive Director of Open Rights Group, Jim Killock said:
“While age verification may seem like a good way to protect young people, it is not clear how it could be implemented and still protect individuals' privacy. Collecting the details of everyone who visits a porn website could create datasets that are vulnerable to Ashley Madison style data breaches. We need more information on how the government intends to implement this policy.”
Ten years in prison for file sharing
The DEB also includes proposals to bring sentences for online copyright infringement in line with physical copyright theft.
“The Digital Economy Bill could mean that people who share files could get a jail sentence, even if they aren't doing it to make money. Sharing music, films or books online could result in a longer prison sentence than stealing from a shop. We don't think the creative industries want to punish people in this way but it could be exploited by ‘copyright trolls’, such as Golden Eye International, who send threatening letters demanding payments to people who have committed minor copyright infringements. It will only take a small tweak to the proposed legislation to ensure that this doesn't happen.”
The DEB states that there needs to be “a reason to believe” that infringement will cause a loss or will create “a risk of loss”. ORG is calling for “risk of loss” to be removed to ensure that file sharing that is not done for financial gain does not lead to threats of criminal convictions with jail sentences.
ORG’s full briefing on the Digital Economy Bill is available here.