Digital Economies Bill

I emailed my MP about the Digital Economies Bill last week. I haven’t got a reply yet, but I thought I would post the letter before I get a reply. I sent it on Thursday, so lets see how long it takes for him to get back. Here we go…

Dear Jim Murphy,

I am writing to you to ask you a few questions on your thoughts on the upcoming Digital Economies Bill. I have a few worries about this bill that seems to be being pushed through very quickly before the general election.

  1. It discourages free wifi in public places. With the current proposal, it would mean that if someone broke copyright laws on free wifi, the owner of the wifi will be fined. This part of the bill will completely kill free wifi in Britain, which would be such a shame.

Also, companies with free wifi would be made to keep a log of all data going through the Internet. This is not easy for a small shop for example, and in general is a very hard thing to do.

  1. Part of the proposal is to block website that break copyright. This is a dangerous road that we should never go down. This would mean, for example, that YouTube would be blocked in the UK.

YouTube gets 24 hours of video uploaded to it every hour, and policing this amount of data going into it is an unnecessary requirement on any company. Because of this, it would mean that there is copyright material on YouTube, which would mean it would be blocked.

  1. The proposal also includes a law that has been rejected in several countries. The 3-strikes law, which means that if someone gets accused of copyright violation 3 times, their Internet gets cut off and their name on a list which means they can’t get any Internet connection ever again.

This is a shocking idea in several ways. The fact that this could happen without any trial is the first, and is completely against the British law system. The fact that we are changing it from “innocent until proven guilty” to the complete opposite shocks me.

The other thing is the idea of getting your Internet connection cut off. Several countries are actually setting down having an Internet connection as being a human right, yet we are getting a bill that will say it is a privilege. There are so many things that are moving online, that it would be a terrible idea to even consider cutting this off.

These arguments aren’t even starting to discuss the technical implications of this bill, which are very large. Too large to go into in this email.

I hope you will let me know how you feel about this bill, as I, and many other people, have serious problems with this bill, and we feel it is being pushed through without proper thought about it, by the Lords, people who aren’t even voted into power.

I will be posting this letter, and your reply, to my blog and to http://votegeek.org.uk/east-renfrewshire/ to let other constituents make good choices in their voting this general election.

Yours sincerely,
Alistair McKinlay