Harry's Home on the Web
They put a pledge on Pledgebank a while ago, seeking regular donations from supporters so that they can go on doing more splendid things. Unfortunately, the pledge failed — but I don’t think that really matters. I’ve signed up anyway. They deserve your support — can you spare them £5 a month?
I just sent this to Harriet Harman using 38degrees’s tool:
Dear Ms Harman,
I am writing to you as Leader of the House of Commons.
As I’m sure you’re aware, the Digital Economy Bill is shortly to be discussed in the Commons, and I am very concerned that it is not going to receive the scrutiny from MPs that such a complex bill demands.
This bill is complicated, and could have significant (possible unintended) affects if passed as drafted. Much of the bill is clearly drafted for the benefit of commercial entities, in ignorance of technological realities and contempt of the public interest. Recent revelations from Dispatches seem to confirm that the ability of wealthy special interests to influence our legislative process is alive and well.
In any situation such as this — where commercial and public interests are competing, over a complex and nuanced problem — it is vital for proposed legislation to be scrutinised diligently and comprehensively. To attempt to rush such a bill through in the last weeks of a Parliament is deeply inappropriate.
In its current form, the Bill strips away human rights to due process, establishes collective punishments and establishes an infrastructure for state censorship of the web.
All in the name of protecting an industry whose history is both littered with attempts to secure protectionist policies when threatened by technological developments, and success stories of growth, adaptation and increased profitability when those attempts fail.
This is a complex problem with no simple solution. I urge you to give it sufficient Commons time for a full and proper debate, or to allow the bill to fall and bring it before a new Parliament after the election.
Feel free to crib bits. Please do send her a letter — and why not send it to your MP too?
I have to say, this has not been my experience (so far) at all.
I’ve found people to be generally excited, understanding and supportive. We’ve got a lot done on good will alone, and I hope we’ve given enough back.
That said, some of the things the article says certainly resonate — especially people being suspicious of success — and we’ve never had to seek VC. So perhaps my experience isn’t representative.
I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t yet written to my MP about the Digital Economy Bill. But amendment 120 (which would establish a system in the UK for take-down and blocking of websites) and today’s news that it was drafted, in its entirety, by the BPI — has finally prompted me to action. So I’ve sent the following to my MP. Feel free to crib bits if they look useful:
I have been watching the movement of the Digital Economy Bill through the House of Lords with some concern. Most notable among its faults are the proposals to disconnect entire households from the internet for the alleged infringements of individuals living there — a collective punishment — and the ability for ministers to arbitrarily amend the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act by statutory instrument.
Some improvements to the bill have been made, including the removal of those Henry 8th powers. However, they have been replaced with a sweeping amendment — bizarrely supported by the Opposition and opposed by the Government — to introduce a system of website take-down and blocking for alleged infringements. This would effectively introduce the infrastructure for a Chinese-style system of censorship of the web, and is a potent and serious threat to our freedom of speech and human rights.
I now discover, via the Open Rights Group, that the entire amendment establishing this system was drafted by the British Phonographic Industry and tabled, unaltered, for consideration by the Lords.
I recognise that the drafting of amendments by third parties is routine, but this surely exceeds what is reasonable: in my experience, amendments drafted by lobby groups are generally probing, and if passed, rarely become part of the bill in their original form.
We now find ourselves opposing a bill drafted in considerable part by the record industry for their gain and to our detriment.
I ask that you raise this concern with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and ask him to respond, and to rigorously oppose this bill when it enters the Commons in the coming weeks.
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