Friday, March 26, 2010

Digital Economy Bill Now On the Agenda - Take Action Now! #DEB #DEBill

Yesterday at 11:35 am Harriet Harman announced in an almost throw away line to the commons:

The business for next week is as follows:


Tuesday 6 April-Second Reading of the Digital Economy Bill [ Lords ], followed by consideration of Lords amendments to the Equality Bill.

With recent events the letter from 25 Lib Dem PPCs Bridget Fox, Islington South & Finsbury, Julian Huppert, Cambridge, Martin Tod, Winchester, Farid Ahmed, Walthamstow, Jon Ball, Ealing Central & Acton, Alan Beddow, Warwick & Leamington, Mike Bell, Weston-super-Mare, Duncan Borrowman, Old Bexley & Sidcup, Sal Brinton, Watford, Belinda Brooks-Gordon, West Suffolk, Alan Bullion, Sevenoaks, Adrian Collett, Aldershot, Andrew Dakers, Brentford & Isleworth, Sue Doughty, Guildford, Helen Duffett, Romford, Merlene Emerson, Hammersmith,
Gareth Epps, Reading East, Ed Fordham, Hampstead & Kilburn, Steve Goddard, Oxford East,
Simon McDougall, Bognor Regis & Littlehampton, Jo Shaw, Holborn & St Pancras, Sandy Walkington, St Albans, Peter Welch, Southend West, Munira Wilson, Feltham & Heston, Simon Wright, Norwich South. Which I, and I know others, would happily have added our names to. Although I hadn't been selected back when it was written.

Then the passing of the Freedom, Creativity and the Internet motion at Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham. But then yesterday in the comments about the business of the House nothing from the Lib Dem Members of Parliament. I have the feeling we need a large intake of fresh Lib Dem MPs who understand the complexity of this issue as those who were there yesterday didn't catch on to the urgency. That sense of immediate action that had taken us through conference about this one Bill before the House and how we didn't want it in the wash up. Sadly it now looks like being likely where it could end up now judging by the timing announced by the leader of the House and when we all expect Gordon to go to the Palace just before this is due to be debated.

As Bridget Fox one of the architects of the motion and the letter pointed out our MPs currently only deserve two cheers. As she points out our Department of Culture, Media and Sport team have said:

"The controversial parts of the Bill will need to be scrutinised and voted upon by the next parliament before they can be brought into law. Liberal Democrats MPs would not support these sections of the Bill without this process."
On web-blocking they are emphatic

"We do not believe that measures to address site blocking can reasonably be included in the Digital Economy Bill and we will not support any such measures."

On disconnection without proof less clear, which I like Bridget am a little concerned about.

"The Liberal Democrats are unconvinced of the merits of measures such as temporary account suspension or bandwidth throttling"

Please don't tell me they want to be convinced. They do propose a set of technical measures, to be met before any disconnection would be possible; the main ones are that copyright infringers would be notified by letter, without any risk of their Internet connection being affected for at least a year, and that any process to disconnect users explicitly assumes their innocence until they are proven guilty.

They did also pick up on the issue of open access sites being vulnerable to such actions:

"We believe there is inadequate protection in the Bill for schools, libraries, universities and other businesses offering Internet access to the public.....We will take further action in the Commons to improve the legislation."

The third cheer will only occur if we don't get a washed up decision on this issue. We need to get proper scrutiny on some of those complex issues that the time allowed currently or in a wash up is not worthy of the issue at hand. If you haven't written yet to your MP please write, if you have already do what Scott at Love and Garbage has done and write again.

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