UK Digital Economy Bill rushed through the House of Commons

By EDRi · April 7, 2010

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Deutsch: [Britische Digital Economy Bill: Im Eiltempo durch das Unterhaus |]

After several hours of debate on 6 April 2010 in an almost empty British
House of Commons, the Digital Economy Bill was passed to the next stage. The
final debate is today, 7 April 2010 and the vote is scheduled at around 9

The yesterday’s debate in the UK Parliament “has shown under the glare of
thousands of webcasts, just how shamefully it can behave”, as Monica
Horten underlines. The only major change of the text could be the Clause 18
regarding blocking of websites which would be subject to a
“super-affirmative procedure”. That would mean that it will be adopted
separately by the Parliament at a later date. This was the deal reached by
the three main parties in the present dissolving UK Parliament. However, the
rest of the clauses on the three strikes will be probably passed following
today’s vote.

Some of the members of the Parliament complained by the fact that they had
not seen the last version of Clause 18, one of the most controversial text
in the Digital Economy Bill.. This clause was amended several times, one of
its version apparently having been largely drafted by the music industry
BPI. The amendment introduced by Business Secretary Peter Mandelson
allowed ministers to introduce the power for courts to order ISPs to block
access to websites or Internet locations allegedly infringing copyright. The
new amendment introduced at the second reading grants the government
“limited power to propose regulations in the future”, including the blocking
websites, after consultation with the industry.

Besides the already known opposition arguments, some of the MPs complained
by the fact that the House of Commons was given too short a time to take a
decision on the bill arguing that such a complex and controversial law
should have been put under a more thorough scrutiny.

Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House of Commons, argued that the law
was not rushed and suggested that there would still be opportunities to make
changes after the bill had been approved which, in the opinion of some MPs,
would never happen and the new government will just apply the bill as is.

The EDRi-member Open Rights Group and 38 Degrees have made big efforts to
convince MPs to oppose the bill through a several actions including
advertising in the Guardian and the Times headlined “20 684 of us demand a
proper debate on the Digital Economy Bill”, paid for by donations.

The Opens Rights Group has expressed its intention to continue the fight,
even after the law was passed. On 1 April 2010, the Open Rights Group served
“Disconnection notices” to UK Music, BPI and politicians. The group members
went to the offices of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour
parties, BPI and UK Music and presented them “with notice that the Digital
Economy Bill is disconnected, from democracy, human rights, public opinion
and sound business sense. (…) We will continue to expose the lobbying and
manipulation of corporate lobbyists and the irresponsibility of many
politicians, in order to win our fight to defend our rights as citizens,”
said Jim Killock.

But with a hidden deal between the main parties, the bill is expected to be
passed into law in a wash-up negotiating procedure before the dissolution of
the Parliament. You can watch this live following the link below.

Webcast of the House of Commons debate on the Digital Economy Bill

Parliament does a squalid deal and betrays Internet users (6.04.2010)

Digital Economy Bill heads for final reading (7.04.2010)

Government re-introduces controversial site-blocking powers (31.03.2010)

How Hollywood lobbied for the Digital Economy Bill (3.04.2010)

Disconnection notices served to UK Music, BPI and politicians (3.04.2010)

Call for ‘fuller’ debate on Digital Economy Bill (6.04.2010)

EDRi-gram: UK is one step closer to blocking access to Internet (24.03.2010)