10,000 condemn the Digital Economy Bill

In the last 48 hours 38 Degrees members have send an avalanche of 10,000 to their MPs voicing widespread concern about the Digital Economy Bill.  Why are so many of us so concerned that we’re moved to take action?
This week politicians told 38 Degrees that those opposing the bill of being “web anarchists”. This is a convenient way for them to avoid the many concerns the public has about this bill. We’re concerned that the government is pushing a complex bill through without addressing our legitimate concerns. Wash-up (the process the Government is using to force the bill through) is a problematic process at the best of times, in that it removes scrutiny from legislation. For our members the idea that you’d strip down the scrutiny and debate over such a complex bill that gives unprecedented new powers to the Government is deeply worrying.
The bill contains a wish list of new powers that would (amongst many things) give the government power to disconnect millions, block websites, create the potential for backdoor censorship and spell the death of open WiFi (http://www.boingboing.net/2010/02/27/uk-digital-economy-b.html). Schools, libraries and businesses could see their connection cut if their pupils, readers of customers infringe any copyright.
One group is very keen on it though, the music industry. Early this month it was uncovered that parts of the bill have been copied word for word from a draft “suggestion” written by the music industry lobbyist group, the BPI. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/11/digital-economy-bill-amendment-lobbyists). In a leaked memo (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/mar/11/digital-economy-bill-amendment-lobbyists) a few days ago the same lobbyists admitted the only way to get the bill through would be to rush it through without a real parliamentary debate. Those opposing the bill we have a growing and powerful movement of companies, libraries, consumer groups and of course us, the public. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Virgin, Orange, eBay, BT, Yahoo all came together earlier this month to voice their concern about this bill.   (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9cd79f4c-2ba7-11df-a5c7-00144feabdc0.html).
We’ve teamed up with Open Rights Group (ORG) to oppose the bill. As Jim Killock, ORG’s Executive Director says:
At the fag end of this Parliament, disastrous laws to disconnect families from the internet and introduce web censorship powers that we haven’t even seen, could get passed into law without proper debate.
Serious laws, that would disrupt people’s freedom of speech and their daily lives, and potentially create new web censorship powers, deserve proper scrutiny and debate. Anything less is undemocratic and unaccountable, not to mention deeply irresponsible.
That is why 38 Degrees is joining the Open Rights Groups’ call for a proper open debate on this Bill. Please write to your MP now to demand that this Bill is properly debated.”
The Government is right to attempt to tackle the many issues surrounding the internet. But to rush these complex new measures through Parliament is wrong. To think that they could rush them through before a general election without anyone noticing is naïve. This law needs a real debate, it needs parliamentary scrutiny. That’s why ten thousand of us have written to our MPs.
If you haven’t done so already now is the time to write to your MP and tell them why we oppose the Digital Economy Bill: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/digital-economy-bill

In the last 48 hours 38 Degrees members have sent an avalanche of 10,000 to their MPs voicing widespread concern about the Digital Economy Bill.  Why are so many of us so concerned that we’re moved to take action?

This week politicians said that those opposing the bill are “web anarchists”. This is a convenient way for them to avoid the many concerns the public has about this bill. We’re concerned that the government is pushing a complex bill through without addressing our legitimate concerns.

The government is planning to use a special “fast track” process designed for the weeks before a election to pass urgent and uncontroversial measures, to force thorough these dubious new powers. This process is problematic at the best of times,  because it removes democratic checks. For our members the idea that you’d strip down the scrutiny and debate over such a complex bill that gives unprecedented new powers to the Government is deeply worrying.

The bill contains a wish list of new powers that would (amongst many things) give the government power to disconnect millions of people, block websites, create the potential for back-door censorship and spell the death of open WiFi. Even  Schools and libraries could see their internet cut off if people infringe any copyright.

One group is very keen on it though, the music industry. Early this month it was uncovered that parts of the bill have been copied word for word from a draft “suggestion” written by the music industry lobbyist group, the BPI.  In a leaked memo a few days ago the same lobbyists admitted the only way to get the bill through would be to rush it through without a real parliamentary debate.

Those opposing the bill are a growing and powerful movement of companies, libraries, consumer groups and of course us, the public. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Virgin, Orange, eBay and BT all came together earlier this month to voice their concern about this bill.

We’ve teamed up with Open Rights Group (ORG) to oppose the bill. As Jim Killock, ORG’s Executive Director says:

“At the fag end of this Parliament, disastrous laws to disconnect families from the internet and introduce web censorship powers that we haven’t even seen, could get passed into law without proper debate.

Serious laws, that would disrupt people’s freedom of speech and their daily lives, and potentially create new web censorship powers, deserve proper scrutiny and debate. Anything less is undemocratic and unaccountable, not to mention deeply irresponsible.

That is why 38 Degrees is joining the Open Rights Groups’ call for a proper open debate on this Bill. Please write to your MP now to demand that this Bill is properly debated.”

The Government is right to attempt to tackle the many issues surrounding the internet. But to rush these complex new measures through Parliament is wrong. To think that they could rush them through before a general election without anyone noticing is naïve. This law needs a real debate, it needs parliamentary scrutiny. That’s why ten thousand of us have written to our MPs.

If you haven’t done so already now is the time to write to your MP and tell them why we oppose the Digital Economy Bill: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/digital-economy-bill