2010. The year the UK surrendered its democratic values.
Harsh words? Perhaps? Yet most people who have witnessed the way through which the Digital Economy Bill was rushed through parliament without proper scrutiny and debate will probably agree.
An unelected peer (Peter Mandelson) was the one who introduced the Bill (to claims that it was written by the big media corporations), over 20,000 people emailed their MP’s to demand a debate reflective of the size and scope of the bill and only 40 MP’s turned up to discuss it at its second reading.
Hardly due democratic process, I’m sure even the staunchest proponents of the Bill would agree.Rushing the Bill though Parliament is not even the most damning condiment of British democracy compared with the actual contents of this draconian law (for thats what it is now; it is too late to stop it, the Queen will sign it in as she has no power to actually refuse).
The Bill goes against the rights of UK citizens in that there is no due process and there is an assumption of guilt. A copyright holder, let’s say the unscrupulous BPI, may merely make accusations on a whim to which the ISP (Internet Service Provider) has to take action against.
Anyone accused may have their connection terminated and the only way to prove innocence is to pay out of your own pocket at an independent tribunal.The account owner is the person liable under this new law, this will effectively mean an end to free wifi as companies (like McDonalds, Starbucks, etc), libraries and Universities will stand accused if someone has breached copyright. Furthermore, if anyone is in a shared house they may face disconnection if a flatmate has downloaded something.
Another aspect of the Bill gives the secretary of state the power to block any website which is suspected of aiding copyright infringement.This blanket clause has so much scope to be abused it is ridiculous. Websites such as Wiki leaks could be shut down for hosting infringing material, say, for example, a whistleblowers report on the incompetence of the government.
This Bill brings Britain’s digital future more in line to that of China than that of a free information democratic society.
Clearly, this Bill will have a great effect upon the UK and more likely than not it will be severely damaging.
The Music and Film Industries, who have been brandishing ridiculous figures of the “cost” of piracy, which change with every sound bite, may even feel the ill effects of this Bill themselves. Recent reports have suggested that illegal downloads make up the majority of legal purchases. Its common sense to realise that by sharing music people are helping to promote the bands they like.
Some artists even support sharing as the music labels swallow the majority of the profits from legal purchases anyway and free file sharing allows them to gain support that they would not otherwise see. Summing up, this Bill highlights how out of touch MP’s are with the electorate.
Rather than listening to the concerns of many, (and these aren’t just the deluded ramblings of “internet nerds”) the politicians pandered to their financial backers and voted without even the slightest bit of insight to the components of the Bill. That is if they turned up at all.
Ignoring the obvious fact that real pirates will never be caught, this Bill is a gross breach of Human Rights and will make the UK fall further behind other countries when it comes to the internet.
Ill leave you with one final thought,which will also help you if you want to find out more and to help oppose the Bill.