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Digital Economy Bollocks

I just sent the following email to my MP, Ben Wallace:

Dear Mr Wallace,

I am writing to you to express my grave concern about the Digital
Economy Bill [1], which was announced during the Queen’s speech and is
due to be proposed to Parliament this week.

The bill is purported to “make provision about the online infringement
of copyright”. However, as far as I can tell, these provisions consist
entirely of reducing or withdrawing internet access from those accused
of copyright infringement.

The bill makes no provision for finding the actual culprit who committed
the copyright violation, so if, for example, my neighbour were to hack
into my network and download copyrighted content either deliberately or
otherwise, my entire household could be disconnected from the internet,
without it even having to be proved that it was my internet connection
that was used to download copyrighted content in the first place.
Considering that I telecommute, that essentially means that I would lose
my job, and my fiancée, a secondary science teacher, would find it
extremely difficult to do any kind of planning or research whilst at
home, since so many of the resources she uses for her classes are to be
found online.

Worse still, section 17 of the bill contains provisions that allow the
Secretary of State to:

 (a) confer a power or right or impose a duty on any person;
 (b) modify or remove a power, right or duty of any person;
 (c) require a person to pay fees.

These powers would be carried out using a Statutory Instrument, meaning
that the Secretary of State is essentially able to create extensive and
arbitrary enforcement measures without proper Parliamentary oversight
(in that Parliament can approve or deny a Statutory Instrument, but
can’t alter it).

To summarise the problems with the bill:

 1. The bill begins with a statement from the Secretary of State that he
   believes that the bill does not violate the European Convention on
   Human Rights. In other words, there has been no legal audit made;
   we’re expected to take Lord Mandelson’s word for it.
 2. The bill’s provisions for copyright enforcement appear to be
   designed specifically to target people who do anything to upset the
   entertainment industry.
 3. If someone in your house is accused of filesharing (but, remember,
   there is no burden of proof), your household’s internet connection
   may be withdrawn.
 4. If an ISP refuses to spy on its customers in order to help the film
   and music industries find something for which to sue those
   customers, that ISP could be subject to a £250,000 fine.
 5. The Secretary of State is granted the right to create new measures
   to combat online infringement without proper Parliamentary
   oversight, essentially allowing him to grant whatever powers to
   whomever he wishes in the name of fighting online infringment. Some
   commentators have referred to this as creating the position of
   “Pirate Finder General”

Let me state in no uncertain terms: the proposals in the Digital Economy
Bill are disproportionate and unacceptable. They are not in keeping with
the spirit of government of the United Kingdom, and they do not properly
respect the rule of law and the duty of the courts to ensure a fair
trial for those accused of a crime.

I hope that you will stand against these measures in Parliament. Should
you wish to talk to me to discuss these matters further, you can reach
me by any of the means listed below.

Best regards,

Graham Binns

If you haven’t spoken or written to your MP yet, I suggest you do so, pronto. Also, sign up to the petition.