UK Digital Economy Bill voted by the Parliament

By EDRi · April 21, 2010

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Deutsch: [Britisches Parlament stimmt für Digital Economy Bill |]

In a hasty meeting that lasted only two hours and a half, the UK Parliament,
with an overwhelming majority (189 votes to 47), passed on 8 April 2010 the
Digital Economy Bill, in third reading, without a real debate, which means
that the bill will get royal assent and become law.

The Labour version of the website blocking clause as well as the 3-strikes
clauses, including “technical measures for automated blocking” remained.
Clause 43 on orphan works which was strongly opposed by photographers was
dropped. “The UK government wanted to introduce a law to allow anyone to use
your photographs commercially, or in ways you might not like, without asking
you first. They have failed,” said the photographers’ site.

The Liberal Democrats opposed the bill and there was an attempt by Tom
Watson to table amendments which were not considered. Watson drew the
attention on Clause 11 which gives the Secretary of State the right to order
technical measures apparently as he sees fit, thus allowing for abuse acts.

“We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at
the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are
extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having
their internet connections cut off,” said Peter Clegg, leader of the Liberal
Democrats who added: “It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big
corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming
available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited.”

The Open Rights Group did not believe this was a complete defeat. “Firstly,
this is a huge victory for transparency. Thousands of people watched and
commented on what would have, a few years ago, been a quiet, barely public
event. Secondly, we have mobilised a huge movement, that is capable of
influencing the election, and showing up politicians over the next month,
and beyond,” stated the group.

Talk Talk telecom provider expressed its intention to refuse to bow to the
new law to be. “After the election we will resume highlighting the
substantial dangers inherent in the proposals and that the hoped for
benefits in legitimate sales will not materialise as filesharers will simply
switch to other undetectable methods to get content for free,” said Andrew
Heaney, Talk Talk executive director of strategy and regulation.

The telecom company O2 considers that laws are not the right solution to
the problem and suggested that media companies should look for new
mechanisms to deliver paid content at a cheaper price.

The subject of the bill was largely discussed on 19 April 2010, during an
online audio debate presented by the Guardian and campaign group 38 Degrees,
between the three main UK political parties on the most important hot
topics, as voted for by the people.

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt, on behalf of the Tories, agreed the
Bill was rushed through and emphasised the absence of a proper House of
Commons scrutiny stage. Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrats’ chief of
staff said: “We pushed to strike out the provisions on piracy and those that
let Internet users be cut off. We’d want to repeal that.”

And the climate change secretary Ed Miliband from the labour party, which
was actually the key instigator of the bill, tried to avoid taking
responsibility and kept repeating the need for a balance between Internet
freedoms and a fair retribution for music, video and software creation.

So, although they had earlier voted for the bill, it seems that now, in the
electoral campaign, none of the major parties really want to deal with it.

What we do next (8.04.2010)

DE Bill rammed through UK Parliament in 2 hours (8.04.2010)

Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night session

The Digital Economy Act has nothing to do with UK politicians (19.04.2010)

Digital Economy Bill is passed into law (9.04.2010)

Lib Dems will call for repeal of Digital Economy Act (16.04.2010)

EDRi-gram: UK Digital Economy Bill rushed through the House of Commons