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.