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#debill v #ge2010

Rory Cellan-Jones | 13:33 UK time, Thursday, 8 April 2010

For the last day, the general election has been taking a back seat - in social media terms - to the Digital Economy Bill.

debillAs the controversial bill was completing its passage through the Commons last night (you can watch it here), there were thousands of tweets monitoring the debate - and not a little fury when the bill got through, with 189 voting in favour, and 47 against. Here's how they voted.

Even MPs were adding to the running commentary. Labour's Tom Watson, a former minister close to Gordon Brown, was rebelling: "First time I've ever broken the whip in the chamber. I feel physically sick." He and the Liberal Democrats who opposed the bill won praise from campaigners and critics - along with promises that there would be an effect at the ballot box, with rebels rewarded and supporters punished. We shall see whether the digital crowd makes a difference.

In the heat of battle last night, there was some confusion as to which parts of the bill actually made it through. There was victory for the photographers who had claimed that clause 43 in the bill, relating to so-called "orphan works", would end up handing over their picture rights to giant media firms; that was dropped.

At first, it seemed that an even more controversial clause had gone - one allowing the blocking of websites which host copyrighted material without permission. Later, it emerged that the clause had been amended so that there will have to be further Parliamentary scrutiny before any blocking takes place. This morning, opponents were still claiming that it could allow the blocking of resources such as Wikileaks, which hosts material like the recent video of US troops firing on Iraqi civilians.

But the clauses which caused the most anger from campaigners like the Open Rights Group survived the horse-trading. That means we will now get those "technical measures" allowing Ofcom to impose speed brakes or suspend the internet connections of those who repeatedly share files illegally. The government insists this will only happen if offenders ignore repeated warnings - and is stressing that it's only aimed at the most serious offenders. The opponents claim millions could be cut off.

And a "concession" - which didn't convince the Labour rebels - was a consultation process with MPs and peers. The government calls this a "super-affirmative procedure" but the bill's critics say ministers would still be able to make MPs toe the party line and force any new proposals through Parliament.

Combing through Twitter, I found only one apparent supporter of the bill: "Am I missing something regarding the #debill, or are people complaining that they might get punished for breaking the law?"

Thousands more were repeating "I choose not to recognise the UK's Digital Economy Bill", as if that might make it go away.

In 24 hours, the hashtag #debill appeared 14,400 times on Twitter, as compared to 1,470 tweets using the election hashtag #ge2010. So, does that mean the mainstream media, with its concentration on campaign news, is ignoring the really big story? Or is this a particularly well-focussed campaign by a relatively small group of activists?


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  • Comment number 1.

    it is a case of highlighting why our parliament doesn't work in that media moguls can instruct unelected peers how to construct law but the lowly constituent can't even get in touch with their MP

  • Comment number 2.

    Much though I dislike the Bill, I have a feeling it will be far less important than we might think - all it will do is encourage further and cleverer ways to do piracy. The ISPs will prevaricate and find ways to delay implementation of the nastier clauses, hoping for either political changes or lack of will from those entrusted with the enforcement of its terms.

    It's a very stupid bill in a lot of ways, but that just reflects the stupidity of the approach of the music industry in general. They're fighting the wrong battle in the wrong way at the wrong time...

  • Comment number 3.

    What was the count for the hashtag #ukelection? That was the one I was using, and it seemed to be trending very highly on the first couple of days.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think you summed it up in the last paragraph there Rory. Apart from yourself I've seen hardly any coverage of this in the MSM and you can guarentee that their will be a backlash of huge proportions as soon as more people become aware of this.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm so angry about this I'm going to set up a Facebook group. That'll show them.

  • Comment number 6.

    I absolutely believe that most media outlets are missing the big story here, but only because they ultimately benefit from the Bill.

    If something as wide-ranging and poorly thought out as the DE Bill can be passed with only a few hours of debate (and by people who clearly know nothing about the topic at hand) then it just goes to show what a mess democracy in this country is in. How many MPs involved with this understand IP spoofing, hacking, cracking etc? Not many I bet.

    The Government might claim that the Bill is only aimed at the repeat and heavy offenders, but the wording of the Bill doesn't make those people the sole target.

  • Comment number 7.

    Considering the number of technophobes out there who have an unsecured wireless network or even one secured with WEP which can be easily cracked, I forsee a large number of people being permanently disconnected from the internet because of their neighbours who want to atttribute their filesharing activities to another household.

  • Comment number 8.

    It is practically unenforcable.

    In the event that any ISP dares to start cutting off it's customers, (and let's face it no shareholder is going to back a company that expels its prime customers), then said customers will just take half a step back from p2p media transfer and use cds, or portable drives to do manual transfers, while they develop a new way to beat the system.

    There are/were much smarter ways for the media industry to protect itself (Itunes being the prime example) and targetting the people who have effectively removed the major cost of their business (hosting or producing the physical media) is frankly lunacy from companies who have lost touch with modern reality.

  • Comment number 9.

    "people complaining that they might get punished for breaking the law"
    No, not at all ! We're complaining that your local church group, community centre or Starbucks can have their internet connection shut down because one person was merely *suspected* of breaking of the law (maybe) using their free wireless.

    The 'letters' the music industry is so keen on (after their drafted whole paragraphs of this new bit of law) would in the most part not go to anyone who could do anything about it.
    To be forcing such powers through (when only uncontroversial acts are meant to be) is undemocratic; never mind the government is meant to be delivering more and more services online (to the very people it's going to be disconnecting)- joined up government this aint.

  • Comment number 10.

    When professional publications like PCPRO run story after story pointing out the stupidity of the bill, it must take a government blind to common sense, or just locked in with vested interests, to carry on regardless.

    Pandering to big industry hasn't done Labour much good this last week, with the Chief Execs sticking the knife in, I wonder if alienating such a large swathe of the electorate has been worth it.

    I'm Labour through and through, but this, even more than the identity card debacle, makes it very hard to continue supporting them.

  • Comment number 11.

    This is an incredibly dangerous bill, and its supporters have been very disingenuous or misguided in characterising its opponents as 'enemies of copyright' or as people who just want to get something for free.

    The wording of the bill will allow disconnections of entire households for the infractions of one person. It will shut down public Wi-Fi, hamstring new business models and potentially open up a new era of censorship in the UK. People will get worked up about it when they start to feel the effects, which they will.

    And by the way, the web-blocking amendment was already going to have to have parliamentary scrutiny. People were confused last night because the government buried that amendment in an unrelated clause (I can't imagine why).

  • Comment number 12.

    This is a contemptible law, voted on by people with no knowledge of the subject area. It is a sad reflection of the ignorance with which the government treats one of the country's largest growth industries.

    Perhaps Labour and the Conservatives will care when thousands of "cease and desist" letters start landing on parents' doorsteps across the country.

    As a voter on the Guardian website asked, "If this is how the law is made, why obey the law?"

  • Comment number 13.

    Nobody voted Mandelson into office, so I don't feel any compulsion to obey Laws conceived in his name.

    This man has far too much power for someone who, apart from being undemocratically raised to office, has already demonstrated his lack of fitness for Government by twice disgracing himself when he was elected.

  • Comment number 14.

    People who oppose the bill are not upset because they want to download illegally with impunity, they oppose it because they do not have to be proven guilty, they only have to be accused, by people who for the past 3+ years have been demonstrating that they are willing to accuse a great many people who they are not certain are actually guilty.

    The methods by which 'illegal' behaviour is tracked are massively flawed, and the people who the MP's say the bill targets, the heaviest users who 'repeatedly share files illegally', they are far too smart to ever be caught by people who don't even know how the internet works. This may come as a shock, but the people doing the significant file sharing are not using torrents, they use super-secretive ftp servers with constantly changing accounts, they use encryption and newsgroups so that they are both not scrutinized and not detectable.
    p2p is the tip of the iceberg.

    And whether it is right or not, piracy is not actually responsible for any loss of profit, numerous studies have shown that those who pirate are also those who spend the most, and critical analysis of numbers released by big music have shown that profits are actually not suffering at all, on the contrary, record labels make more money now than they ever have. The simple reason for all this phony legislation is that when record and movie companies are allowed to accuse and demand money from innocent people, they typically receive a large settlement, because those accused do not understand and are not able to defend themselves.
    It's racketeering plain and simple.

  • Comment number 15.

    The issue was completely ignored by big media, as they basically wrote the law for their own ends, and did not want to draw attention too it, until it was far too late to do anything. If Lord Mandy gets a nice job with big media after the election it will confirm in my mind how corrupt our politicians are.

  • Comment number 16.

    For all the furore raised by the pirates, it's the blocking laws which worry me. The ability for parliament to censor websites is a dangerous road to go down and should be gaining the focus of the attention.

    The problem on the piracy front is, it will only catch the technically incompetent, the young children, the older generations and anyone else not up to speed. The Tech literate will simply move on, as napster's cloure forced them onto decentralised servers, so this two will move them on, perhaps onto The Darknet,or perhaps onto Tor or Freenet. Piracy is not going to be stopped by technical means!

  • Comment number 17.

    Guilty until proven innocent. A sad day. My MP is going to suffer at least one loss for this.

  • Comment number 18.

    The Elites (LibLabCon and their associates) who run this country do not care about the little people. Only if everyone starts voting for anyone but the big three are things going to change. Until then it is just the next puppet in the red/blue/yellow tie and on we plod down a very dark road.

  • Comment number 19.

    It is sickening to see such important legislation passed in such a way,and is typical of this Labour government to do this in this way.... It is an appalling misuse and abuse of power, and i hope the MP's who voted this through are treat with contempt at the ballot box.

    If this was a union ballot for a strike it wouldnt be allowed, only 1/3 of mp's bothering to turn up and vote, where were they ??? why is a bill allowed to pass on such a simple majority ???

    I would love to email my MP to complain that someone who only has an account at westminster( which will be unusable from friday) thought he was so competent with IT matters to allow this to pass so easily into Law, but he has certainly lost my vote, i hope many more will treat their MP the same.

  • Comment number 20.

    All these posts complaining about the Digital Economy Bill are mainly on the basis that it will be side-stepped or is ineffectual. Maybe so, but better something than nothing. Why so few posts acknowledging that there is massive illegal downloading and something must be done? (except from the anarchists, of course)? As for the scenario of "the teenager upstairs in the bedroom" - tough! The householder is responsible for everyone under their roof, and if they cannot control their own family, they should be ashamed. If a household is cut off because of an unruly teen upstairs, it will be a valuable lesson for all concerned!

  • Comment number 21.

    Why don't they just go the Chinese route and stop us viewing anything that might "inform" us. Another curious item in the bill is the vagueness in its definitions. Vote, if you must but not online. Now this bill has been pushed through without proper consultation, you could find yourself on a "watch" list for not voting the right way. (Whatever that is).
    And for the idiots that dreamt this law up, hackers are already working on ways around it.

  • Comment number 22.

    The record companies need to realise that it isn't piracy that is causing them to lose whatever ridiculous amount of money was spouted during the "debate". The cause is their out-dated business models. If they were to stop thinking of the digital world as a necessary evil and start to embrace some of the emerging business models they might find that people begin to part with their cash again.

    I also cannot believe that Stephen Timms had the nerve to say that "My sense is that there is a pretty broad acceptance across the house... that legislation is appropriate for dealing with it" when the vast majority of those in attendance were openly lambasting the bill.

    As for the "offenders" all this will do is cause them to seek out more secure means of going about their business thereby negating a big part of this bill.

    I cannot get my head around how this is supposed to make people start paying for their entertainment media. Do they really think "I know, let's villify our consumers. It'll make us millions"

    Finally am I the only one who thinks that unless you actually attend a debate that you should not be allowed to vote upon it?

  • Comment number 23.

    Cutting people of and cutting websites of is infringing our rights to information, these laws will be abused there is no doubt about it,

    just look at the 12 year old girl who was arrested under anti terrorism laws, its just a matter of time before sites that uncover scandles will be deemed "illegal" and blocked,

    i for one will always find a way to get music,i have no quarrels about admitting it,

    artists will make mullions from touring, and to be honest it will make music better, it will stop all these money grabbing pop artists making crap commercial music just for the money,

    earn your money by making good music if its good enough people WILL pay to go to your concerts just like i will be this summer 200 pounds each for festival tickets, worth every penny.

    the really bad thing is when important underground information sources about what the government and big businesses are up-to will be gone were will they pop up again and who will stand up for them when the media is not covering it as they SHOULD BE!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Yesterday was by no means the last chance to derail this appalling Bill: the prospect of a hung parliament provides an excellent opportunity for single-issue campaigns, especially in marginal seats. Four MPs got in last time with a majority of under 100 votes; while the current government maintains an overall majority only as long as it holds its weakest 28-or-so marginals - and in 20 of those a swing of just 500 votes would be enough to oust them. As is already shown on facebook, the anti-DEB campaigners are not going to let up on this one; the Government have managed to infuriate the very people who best understand how to use digital media to campaign effectively. Candidates, beware!

  • Comment number 25.

    Like much of this and the previous Government's work - the bill is misdirected.

    I very much believe the Government should go after the Piracy Suppliers - the uploaders, the dodgy CD and DVD copiers... etc.

    The bill is focussed on the internet end-users, with a lack of proof and clarity. Much of the internet is insecure - whether it be poor wifi security or Viruses - whether downloaded or emailed in Spam.

    It also introduces the possibility of censorship.

  • Comment number 26.

    "Or is this a particularly well-focussed campaign by a relatively small group of activists?"

    are you insane ?

    ive followed the #debill for the past 2 days its been in the top 10 "worldwide" trending

    this is not a small group of "activists" - its people who have realised that the govn have no clue how the internet works and its been a wake-up call to see how ridiculous the "democratic" process works - 10 mps in the house debating such an important bill ??

    the simple fact is that this bill is unworkable and impractical and completely and utterly counter-productive in terms of getting the electorate to trust government

  • Comment number 27.

    This bill, like the socialists running the country (micro-managing us, the proletariat) are quite clearly...

    ... double-plus ungood.

  • Comment number 28.

    And so Parliament closes whilst aptly demonstrating it's ineptitude and who it's real paymasters are. It doesn't support a digital economy any more than the music industry does - it threatens the status quo and too much information in the hands of the people is always a dangerous thing to those in power.

    I thoroughly applaud Tom Watson and the other brave souls who opposed this unjust bill and stood up for their principles and morals. I can only hope that we see a hung Parliament come May, and that LibDem influence will manage to accomplish the repealing of this bill.

  • Comment number 29.

    i think i will from now on use a council or government spoofed IP for my downloads now so they have to take legal action against themselves.

    i imagine it will be almost impossible (in a court) to prove who is responsible for copyright infringement, assuming the defendant actually knows how things work. the victims will be those that didn't it and don't understand how it happened.

    As for the music industry being a huge force behind this well it proves they put £££'s before anything else. will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years as there out dated methods get circumvented by smarter people.

    i used to share music when i was a teenager using cassette tapes then the internet it inspired me to learn how to play several instruments. i would not of done this without the 'free' music as i was a child and had NO MONEY of my own to buy the music. since then i buy the CD as i want a physical copy and to support the artist and go to gigs and festivals for the same reason. its still cheaper to torrent and burn to a 25p cd than pay £15 for 10-12 tracks and i will always consider most of the difference greed and theft

  • Comment number 30.

    @ #14 Dan - Excellent points, I couldn't have put it better myself, so I will try not cover any of the same ground in my comment.

    It is simply legislation drawn up for the benefit of (actually largely by) the entertainment industry, nothing more, and it being rushed through in such a manner is a complete disgrace to both the main parties and to British politics as a whole.

    I want to know (and seem unable to find) the following information:

    How is the content I visit/download monitored?
    How do you intend to protect my right to privacy while I browse if you are monitoring what I do? Do I have a right to privacy anymore?!
    Will you be retaining or passing on the data of my web useage?
    How many warnings will an alleged infringer recieve before their service is cut?
    Is there an appeals process? How long will this take?

    In my not too educated opinion, this legislation is hideous, a travesty of privacy and free speech, open to abuse and false accusations:

    If you are an internet user who doesn't know how to secure their wireless router you could be accused because of a neighbour using your internet to download illegal content. You are repeatedly warned and then you are diconnected, possibly even fined or taken to court for your infringements. Is it fair or legal to deny services or even prosecute, based on a hunch? I thought our legal process worked on the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? Apparently not anymore. While high speed internet isn't enshrined in human rights law as a human need, surely it is unthinkable to deny someone the service based on potentially untrue information, gathered in questionable ways and not subject to proper legal review?

    Then there are liberty issues. How will your illicit downloads be detected? By what websites you visit? I would have thought it would be a breach of my privacy to have my ISP (a private company) monitoring my web useage, and the websites I visit. Disappointingly I am wrong. Or will they do it by connection types, and download speeds? Well P2P networks aren't illegal (yet, though they may as well be now) and can be used for plenty of legal content. As a musician I put my music on them in the hope it will be widely distributed. How about download speeds? Well, my internet is 20mb/s so everything I download or upload goes at tremendous speed! This means they will have to monitor the content I visit and download. Only a fool would find this acceptable.

    There is also talk of blocking pirate sites based on accusations made by Copyright holders? This is a huge infringement on free speech rights surely?! 'Pirate' websites tend to be little more than search engines that index huge amounts of data, a good amount of it not pirated at all. This clause provides unscrupulous 'rights holders' everywhere the opportunity to penalise competitors and critics, without judicial oversight or due process. It is inevitable that this amendment will be abused for ill by the entertainment industry or anyone who wants to suppress a competitor's website, a spoof website or even a site like Wikileaks (given that much of their content is copyrighted). As an example the DMCA was used by the Church of Scientology to suppress satirical websites. This tramples over 'Fair Use' and will no doubt be used to block access to information. I give it a matter of months after the legislation is brought into effect before Wikileaks is blocked in the UK on copyright infringment grounds. What a sad day for free information and accountability that will be.

    I am so ashamed of our government, I thought the lies leading to the Iraq war were the absolute lowest they could stoop, but apparently I underestimated our government's ability to behave despicably in the name of big money.

    On that note I'm off to learn about proxy servers and high end encryption in the hope I may be able to preserve what little remains of my recently constantly eroded right to privacy.

  • Comment number 31.

    it was a well focussed campaign, amongst its peers, but also it was a big issue in a microcosm (ie Twitter) so I've no doubt the Twitterati were incensed by it but equally I haven't heard it mentioned in the pub once.

    People who don't believe in intellectual property rights have spread FUD about disconnecting libraries, schools etc but its all propaganda. OFCOM have to define and consult on the Technical Measures and perhaps if these self appointed experts were to engage in that process instead of just throwing their toys out of the pram the system could be quite workable.

    Meanwhile I shall sit back and listen to the wailing of the pirates and their supporters who see a threat to their "log on, go anywhere, steal anything" lifestyle - not before time.

  • Comment number 32.

    I have a fantastic MP who works really hard for her constituents. However she is a Labour MP. I used to vote for the person and not the party. This astonishingly poor piece of legislation called the "Digital Economy Bill" reminds me why I must vote against the Labour Party at this general election.

    I listened to a lot of the debate on this bill - it is clear that the Labour MP present in the debate knew that it was a bad piece of legislation. There are vague promises that the mess will be sorted out after the election. No doubt it will be shortly after the Pig Flying Control Bill!

  • Comment number 33.

    This bill should deter those bandwidth hogs who abuse the WWW, and who slow it down for we regular (normal) users. I have no problem with hogs being cut off.

  • Comment number 34.

    I understand that most people in the world are starting to think that having an internet connection is a basic human right - was this a United Nations statement? I can remember. I think the Labour party has said as much with its desire that everyone should have a fast internet connection. If so, & it becomes enshrined in the human rights legislation of the EU where fore then?

    I dont see the need of any more laws - if someone has stolen your property & you can prove it then get them prosecuted, or sue them in the courts. It seems the current bill is just a soft & easy option for the media world.

  • Comment number 35.

    What stuns me is the number of MPs who bothered to vote! To me this simply highlights the need for a very important Parliamentary reform: there needs to be a definition of the quorum required to take a vote on a bill, and it needs to be well more than the 36% of MPs who voted on this bill.

  • Comment number 36.


    Why so few posts acknowledging that there is massive illegal downloading and something must be done?

    Perhaps because people have seen through the smoke and mirrors thrown up, with vastly inflated figures used and misuse of statistics to support a weak argument.

    If and i say IF there is a massive problem , why have the courts not been flooded out with cases ??? its beyond belief that, they are unable to make one case stick in court and yet seem suddenly able to be 100% right when doing it without the courts.

    I am in no way supporting people who do wrong,but this bill removes the right to be innocent until proven guilty, and will hand unheard of before powers to an unaccountable quango .

    We have already seen and had reported huge numbers of people targeted wrongly by the Law firms Davenport Lyons and ACS Law...and people have had to prove themselves innocent of allegations ...... is this what we want ??? everyone guilty until they prove themselves innocent ????

    It's appalling and if you cant see the difference between stopping civil infringements and protecting a fair law for all then there is not much hope.

  • Comment number 37.

    The whole bill is pretty much irrelevant.
    There are plenty of websites where you can download music, video, TV programs, Movies all for free and with no risk of being caught.
    As the ISP and any potential complainant has to know what you have downloaded then there is nothing they can do. The ISP may suspect you are illegal file sharing but unless they have actual proof of "what" then there is no case to answer.
    This bill does nothing more than affect the inexperienced and the naive to the weight of the law. The real culprits (me) just laugh at the ineffectual stupidity of the law.

  • Comment number 38.

    I find it ridiculous that the BBC whitewalled this entire thing with all mention of it being stuck in sub sections and pretty well hidden. The fact is that Digital Spy has had more coverage than the BBC.

    Yet again the British system in all of it's forms has failed to give it's people the facts and has failed to give us the choice that is a findamental part of democracy. This bill is an absolute farce written by people with zero understanding. Our ISPs currently struggle to give us speeds that we pay for, why is this ignored. What is going to happen to our speeds if ISPs our required to perfrom deep packet inspection at every step in their network delivery.

    Moving out of this country is about the only option we're left with. Perhaps we should leave this old land to the illegals and start agin from scratch somewhere with a system that works in favour of it's citizens and not against them

  • Comment number 39.

    To Doug of Durban...go back to Durban then and use the excellent South African telecomms system. I am a bandwidth hod, I pay for a 50MB connection and I will use what I pay for how I want. If you're too tight to pay for a decent connection or even understand the processes involved then keep your stupid comments to yourself

  • Comment number 40.

    @Anselm, #20,
    And bad luck on you Anselm if one of your neighbours uses a packet sniffer and cracks your wireless network's password. It doesn't take ten minutes to do and there are plenty of walk-throughs on the web. Why would an illegal file-sharer risk their own connection when they can use a neighbour's instead?
    How will you feel when you lose your internet because somebody else used it to download illegally?
    A law which can punish, without proof that you have committed a crime, seems a little unfair to me.

  • Comment number 41.

    I suspect spiritualwolf's comment is right - the bill in itself won't be that significant, both for the reasons s/he gives, and because someone will eventually challenge it in the European Court of Human Rights.

    The real story about this bill is that it has been forced through at the behest of a few lobbyists, against the wishes of many voters, in the face of vocal public opposition - and, in fact, against the better judgment of quite a few MPs. Why was it possible? What does it say about our system? And should we in fact bother to vote?

  • Comment number 42.

    The facts are: the music industry is thriving:
    And the figures in terms of losses are widely discredited:

    This bill passed on the cultural fetishisation of technological ignorance, we live in a country where people are proud to not understand how things work.

    This bill is utterly retrograde and fails to take account of how the creative industries are changing. And they are.

    MPs just signed us over to obsolescence.

    A download is not a lost sale, and nor is it theft, you cannot capitalise on what is infinitely replicable - you can capitalise on a relationship with your audience, with live music, on merchandise.

    The music industry operates on the success of the very few to maintain the illusion that they are the way it works.

    Most of the artists I know (I am also a creative) make a living because of the freedom of the internet, not in spite of it. People who download BUY MORE.

    This is a bill put forward by the unelected, voted for by the ignorant.

    An utter travesty.

    And the worst thing is that this will not effect the savvy. This will allow government to censor our connections, and will mean libraries schoools and cafes are unable to maintain wifi connections. But the savvy can get around that - VPN allows you to hide your IP address with three clicks. It is the poor, the young, and the old who this will kill the internet for, people OTHER parts of the bill consider of utmost importance that it reaches.


  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    What annoyed me is that the only reason that this bill went through was that the vote was on a three lined whip. So you saw the labour MPs come in at the end of the debate and vote for it not having taken part in or even heard the debate. That is not in the public interest.

    Tom Watson and the other 46 MPs who voted against it, particularly the Labour rebels deserve all praise. This bill is unfair in the extreme and is a small plaster on a huge wound.

    What needs reforming is not the laws on the internet, but copyright law. Couple that with technology savvy people at the large record and film companies who can structure their business so that it will actually work digitally.

    There are legal music stores that work (Amazon and iTunes for example). They encourage people to download music with free tracks so that you can experience an artist (the try before you buy model). They also both now have music without DRM. Allowing users to enjoy their music on any device. File sharers do buy music and films. In fact they buy more than those who don't share files.

    It's time that people like Feargal Sharkey realise that they are behind the times. They need to listen to the facts.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Government have in the past tried to use copyright as a tool to suppress the dissemination of compromising documents.

    What is the chance that this bill will be abused to silence critics and whistle-blowers in the same way that the anti-terrorist legislation has been regularly abused?

    Surely the very honourable twice-resigned unelected Lord Mandelson wouldn't intend such a thing?

    Of course New Labour are likely to be history fairly soon, but frankly I wouldn't trust Cameron and his merry band of Old Etonians very much either!

  • Comment number 46.

    Can the BBC please rename it's "democracy live" section please? We don't live in a democracy and to suggest otherwise feels patronising.

  • Comment number 47.

    I have to say I'm really disappointed that this bill has been passed. I was hoping for reform that would give some proper thought about how the digital economy can work for independent content producers and all this has achieved is to annoy several thousands of people.

    Now we're going to have an Act that gets messier and messier everytime it has to get amended because the initial Bill wasn't suitable for purpose - which means increasingly complex legislation and obscure loopholes, which I have no doubt would be found and exploited, especially in a Bill that has been rushed through this quickly!

  • Comment number 48.

    The DEB will not affect those people who are able to digitally defend themselves. WEP / WPA wifi provides abundant targets to piggyback off. VPNs and Bulk Encryption provide tunnels out to foreign countries that are more sensible in their policing of the internet.

    The only people who will be affected are the families / noobs / public areas that do not have the technical know how to port filter / police their own nets.

    The Media Corporations write / sponsor the bill through Parliment, and whilst the MPs are just paid off to push it through, the newspapers / media fail to report on it so the general public is none the wiser.

    1984 has finally happened. Congratulations MPs, you've just killed the internet.

  • Comment number 49.

    I'll comment because I do a certain amount of downloading legally from Amazon. I have no interest in whether people "illegally" download except to say it's nothing new: copying music has been around since recording tape first appeared.

    But what SERIOUSLY annoys me is having a parliament that just slams through a piece of ill-thought-out legislation that needs FAR more debate and safeguards built in for the victims of wireless intrusion (the legality of which never got a mention in this bill). It's another Big Brother clamp on society: "we're getting it through whether you like it or not, ill-gotten as it may be. And we'll be watching you."

    Another nail in the coffin of privacy.

  • Comment number 50.

    #33 Doug of Durban wrote:
    This bill should deter those bandwidth hogs who abuse the WWW, and who slow it down for we regular (normal) users. I have no problem with hogs being cut off.

    You are wrong on so many level that I hardy know where to start.
    This has nothing to do with why Ebay is slow in the evenings. This has nothing to do with why it takes you so long to send your unzipped holiday photos to your mother. This has nothing to do with why you can only get 3MBps ADSL down your phone line.
    This is about the digital equivalent of instructing a telecoms company to listen in to every phone call just in case someone says a naughty word. Do you understand this? Every packet will have to be examined to see what's inside. That means your packets Doug. Every visit to every website and the content of every email you send/receive. All of it forever.
    The Government will know which blogs you read; which forums you comment on; which news website you visit. They will be privy to every private email be it social, domestic or work related.
    There will be nowhere to hide and all because some music execs think they might make bonus this year.
    Do you get it now?

  • Comment number 51.

    This whole piracy discussion makes me laugh. Anyone who torrents a lot probably already knows how to circumvent these rules (VPN, TOR, Encryption, Newsgroups, ftp etc). The only people in any danger are the poor sods at the bottom end of it.
    The section of the bill is a breach of my human rights (privacy at minimum) and will have to be re-written over & over again by order of the courts (like so much of the botched legislation that has been passed recently).
    I am a life-long Labour supporter, but between this and the whole Iraq war saga I will be voting Lib Dem this time & praying for a hung parliament.

  • Comment number 52.

    this just wont work.

    If you step forward a little from the days of bbs piracy, people then used HTTP warez.

    Once that because a little too naff, they moved over to private sites.

    People only left those private sites because of the ease of torrents, all take and little give (because you usually had to be uploading and downloading on the private sites, to keep your membership)

    People will just move to encrypted newsgroups, or back to private sites using hacked ftp's or open ones etc...

    That thats before we get into the fact that any decent ran FTP site has for the past 6 years or more been TLS or SSL encrypted and also uses encryption on the IRC channel they use,

    This may stop the script kiddies from grabbing the latest stuff via a torrent site, but it wont even make a dent in the real piracy scene.

  • Comment number 53.

    PhilT: "People who don't believe in intellectual property rights have spread FUD about disconnecting libraries, schools etc but its all propaganda."

    Nice try, but even the government hasn't attempted to deny that those places could be cut off. They've been very clear that they won't make exceptions for them.

    "OFCOM have to define and consult on the Technical Measures and perhaps if these self appointed experts were to engage in that process instead of just throwing their toys out of the pram the system could be quite workable."

    If the system could be quite workable, then the precedure should be consulted on, debated and specified in the legislation, rather than the government writing itself a blank cheque now and expecting us to trust that it'll do the right thing when it comes to writing in the numbers and cashing it, because previous evidence says it won't.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm proud to say that my MP was one of the 47 who opposed the bill.

    With a bit of luck the unelected House of Lords will quietly talk it to death, acting (as they do have a habit of doing) more in our (the general population) interests than the elected House of Commons seems to.

  • Comment number 55.

    In answer to your bottom-line questions:
    Does this mean the mainstream media, with its concentration on campaign news, is ignoring the really big story?
    Or is this a particularly well-focussed campaign by a relatively small group of activists?
    Yep, most of whom have failed to appreciate that there’s already a couple of BIG problems:
    1. some of the regulations don’t come into effect for a year and
    2. therefore, the next Parliament will be able to study the most contentious aspects.
    I think the law means that ISPs will have to send letters to their subscribers, those who have been linked to copyright infringements and, after several warnings which have been ignored, suspend their accounts. Copyright holders will be able to apply for a court order to gain access to the names and addresses of serious infringers and take legal action.
    This alone should slow down the already slowed down legal system.
    The Government removed the controversial Clause 18, which would have given it unprecedented powers to shut down web sites which were deemed to give access to copyrighted material. However, this was straightaway replaced with an amendment to Clause 8 which lets the Secretary of State for Business order a block on “a location on the internet which the court is ruled has been or is likely being used for activity that infringes copyright”.
    Not important? Well, as you mention, this means the UK government could decide to block Wikileaks, which carries copyrighted work.
    This rushed through, little scrutinized bill may come with plenty of unexpected consequences. E.g. Parents, do you know if your kids have been downloading the latest movies and music? Will you find out only when you start receiving letters? Will your Internet Access be blocked?
    The argument that people will simply password protect is a joke. Any geek can bypass a password.
    All this while more modern governments are starting to talk about Internet access as a human right. How does the UK Government sit with withdrawing Internet Access before an actual court ruling. Seems like grounds for being sued to me.
    More consequences:
    A further impact will be on the UK’s technology. How would you like to create a startup which involves user generated content that might infringe this new law? Your legal bills might end your technological innovation.
    The Digital Economy Bill is so complex that it demanded far more scrutiny. Perhaps the greatest unintended consequence will end up being for the music industry itself.
    Remember back to April last year. Sweden’s Internet traffic took a dramatic fall when the country’s new anti-file sharing law came into effect. Prior to this, Sweden (home to Pirate Bay) had been a seedbed of illegal activity in downloading of movies and music. Several months later traffic levels not only caught up, but surpassed the old levels.
    Accessing of illegally shared movies, TV shows and music simply recovered, but with one crucial difference: Most of the traffic was now encrypted. In other words, the laws passed in order to protect their industry, had created the even bigger headache of untraceable file sharing.
    Will this be the legacy of the Digital Economy Bill?

  • Comment number 56.

    Having just read up on this a little more, I would like to point some people in the direction of this.

    See copyright is complicated

  • Comment number 57.

    6. At 1:59pm on 08 Apr 2010, aenimiac wrote:

    If something as wide-ranging and poorly thought out as the DE Bill can be passed with only a few hours of debate (and by people who clearly know nothing about the topic at hand) then it just goes to show what a mess democracy in this country is in. How many MPs involved with this understand IP spoofing, hacking, cracking etc? Not many I bet.
    Bingo. Unfortunately, this is a major problem in the democratic system; just because an idea is popular, doesn't make it scientifically viable. I highly doubt most MPs in the Commons have any IT qualifications, let alone industry experience, and half of them probably don't even have any science qualifications (although I suppose some may have O-levels or GCSEs)

    And i'd bet that the Lords have even less of a clue.

    Anyway, i'm going to agree that this act is going to only impact 2 groups; parents with children, where the parents have about as much clue about IT as these MPs, and the elderly, where they've just had a wireless connection installed so they can keep in touch with their children who've long since left home.

    In the case of the parents, they'll be caught out with their kid using a background downloader such as u-torrent, which is just used to download the latest "music" (the actual download takes about 1 second or so...), and is then allowed to be left running pretty much forever, unnoticed, continuously uploading the latest music industry "hit" until the computer is replaced.
    And the elderly may simply have their connection hijacked (perhaps by those trying to get around this badly thought-out legislation), but aren't anywhere near technically savvy enough to notice. To them, their wireless router is just a funny flashing box, they have no idea what it does, let alone how to configure it.

    The prolific downloaders will just get around it, I hardly need to repeat the huge number of options available on how to do this; not when it only takes 1 hijacked wireless connection anyway.

    As for the plans to block entire websites, as others have already pointed out, THIS IS JUST PLAIN DUMB. It's too open to abuse; block the wrong website and you could end up bringing down a reputable business by mistake. The trouble is that it's probably intended to take down sites providing the latest Hollywood movies, and so it's supposed to be instant, with no warning, and very few checks / balances in place. It won't take long before some enterprising young hacker breaks in and starts blocking access to casinos and banks in order to make huge profits. This happens already with DDOS attacks, but this legislation could make it all too easy. Much too risky.

  • Comment number 58.

    Also - Stephen Timms, our 'Minister for a Digital Britain' seems to not know what an IP address is:

    He thinks it means 'Intellectual Property' address!

  • Comment number 59.

    Typically this bill was thought up following a discussion on a private island between Lord Mandy and a media mogul. Obviously the upkeep of his island is more important than the facts, the facts are that the internet changed the way we consumed media, and because it crept up on the media moguls so fast, they did not have a way to make money from it. Also makes you wonder what was in it for Mandy and various other politicians who have supported this. I bet there was an awful lot of future pocket lining. The horrific thing about this is, that its not just one Political Party involved, its all of them. How out of step can they be? Democracy is dead and buried and its sad.

  • Comment number 60.

    Consent of the Governed
    I would like to affirm the many excellent posts concerning the abysmal failure of this Bill to address the real pirates. That is, the large mainstream Record and Entertainment industry that steals the intellectual property of their performers; paying them a pittance in return. Similarly other posts expertly address the nature of the digital 'Beast' that will fade into invisibility as we virtually uproot our "Intellectual Property" Addresses to some friendly haven in cyberspace. Or as an existential protest return to analogue format and (re) pirate our vinyl onto compact cassettes!

    However the real impact of the last couple of days is the sudden exposure to a Net Literate *World* of the shambolic nature of the British parliamentary system. As the number of #whatDebill refusniks hits 5002 (yay!:), one is reminded of a certain political tract that had lasting political ramifications...

    "...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,..."
    The Committee of Five

    As an epilogue: despite the popularity of the #debill issue worldwide (#1 tweet/sec trending at No.7), the BBC continues to bury the topic. SHAME once again BBC.
    Yet another reason for a boycott!

  • Comment number 61.

    Just as a matter of interest, is there any obvious way to make trouble for the Bill in the Lords, or is the rubber stamping of it guaranteed?

  • Comment number 62.

    The main problem with the bill is that some of the clauses are left too open to interpretation. Blocking websites is something China does, not the UK. Mandelson is the reason this bill is here because he spent time in Corfu with rights holders.

    This bill is being used as an excuse for the entertainment industries to not provide its customers with what they want, digital content. Its been 11 years since Napster and nothing has been done.

  • Comment number 63.

    How long before some thick copper comes through the wrong door at six in the morning of an 80 y.o couple, claiming that they have illegally downloaded some American rubbish. I thought we were at the end of doing what the dumb Yanks told us. Eh Ho! Rupert you have reached another step to global dominance my old son.
    It seems that our corrupt and useless M.P.'s have given us their last kicking before being thrown onto the Dole.

  • Comment number 64.

    Worse than the debill itself is the total lack of respect for the voters that last night showed.

    Over 60% of MP's couldn't be bothered to show up, despite over 20,000 letters from constituents! And of those that did turn up, only 49 made it to the debate.

    Tellingly, only 2 MP's in the debate spoke up supporting the bill. And 47 voted against it.

    Those debating in support of the bill showed a terrifying lack of knowledge about what the bill entailed. Which makes you quetion whether they actually supported it, or if they were just acting as puppets.

  • Comment number 65.

    C'mon, this is the most dangerous bill in centuries. Don't vote Labour ever again!

  • Comment number 66.

    Instead of having BBC Democracy live. It's now BBC Big Brother live!

  • Comment number 67.

    Voters take note.

    Your MP has no interest in your rights.

    Vested interest, personal gain, corruption are more important.

    Vote them out on May 6th.

    No sitting MP to be re-elected.

  • Comment number 68.

    This whole bill just goes to show how out of touch the Government is with the people it should serve. The Sith Lord Mandelson has spoken and the cabinet has simply accepted what he has to say. All we can hope for is that the Lords use their power to shelve the bill, which they can for up to six months, which critically takes the whole thing to after the general election. With every chance of a hung parliament the whole bill could be altered and properly scrutinised before being sent back to the Lords. Since the Lords are meant to be the check on the powers of the Commons lets see them do it. I never thought I'd see the day when I'm quoting RATM in support of the Lords but 'Take the power back!'

  • Comment number 69.

    As the "one apparent supporter of the bill" mentioned in this article, I should point out that my tweet was a genuine question, not a suggestion I'm in favour. I simply didn't know all the facts about the bill.

    Much like the MPs who passed it, it seems.

  • Comment number 70.

    It was a piece of legislation that provided MPs are more interested in who buys them lunch than those who vote for them.

    The anti-download sections of the bill we largely drafted along principles that the music industry suggested we as voters/consumers didn't even get the legal right to transfer music from CDs we've bought onto our iPods!

    The music industry will say "we're protecting the interests of artists" etc but they're not. The music industry is interesting in making it's fat cats richer otherwise why does every band who signs a deal en up with huge amounts of debt?

    There are musicians out there who give their music away (or you pay what you want) and sill make a living - Steve Lawson ( for one, and he was a vociferous opponent of the bill.

    The electorate was mugged by the music industry and our so called elected representatives colluded on the act.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm just looking forward to the day someone in their infinite wisdom decides that 4chan should be blocked by this "Hadrian's Firewall" that the government wish to put in place.

  • Comment number 72.

    Why is it that such an important bill, coupled with such a shameful turnout by MPs, is hardly reported in mainstream media? Last night's events were hardly reported on BBC News or on any other network - surely a bill which can now assume people guilty until proven innocent is quite a big deal?

  • Comment number 73.

    So what happens when someone wishes to download content that is not available in the UK. For example, there used to be many fans of David Letterman in the UK, who may want to be able to watch it.

    When downloading an episode of his chat show, you are breaking copyright law. But the problem is, no one seems willing to distribute it in this country.

    Downloading an episode of his show means absolutely no one his harmed. The US company who makes the show doesn't lose out, because that person hasn't been given a means to watch it here in any form. Be it on broadcast television or by being able to purchase a download of it.

    The UK companies aren't harmed because they aren't distributing it.

    Or what happens when someone misses an episode of a TV show that they enjoy on a subscription channel because their digital video recorder failed to do the task they paid for? Well, the subscription channel still gets its fee. The advertisers don't miss out because there is hardly a person in this country who will sit through the adverts on a recording (unless they decide to force recorded adverts to not allow being fast forwarded, which I can see as a result of this bill) and everyone is still being paid for what people would've actually seen anyway.

    At what point are these technical breachs of this new bill, actually going to harm anyone's income?
    Its a bogus, hideous law. When only 1/3rd of MPs can be bothered to vote, and even less actually debate it before vote for it, they cannot DARE criticise anyone for a lack of turn out at the local and general elections.

    Ask not what you can do for your country, but what serving your country can get you in backhanders.

  • Comment number 74.

    Bottom line - is the Internet important? If so, I'd imagine the Digital Economy Bill could also be deemed important, whether you're pro or anti the bill.

    As has been stated elsewhere, I'm annoyed at the BBC's poor job reporting this - Parliament Live was superb, don't get me wrong, but the job of the news is to inform the public. This blog post is at least a day late, if not more. And as for whether it was important news for the public... no, I doubt many none-geeks think it was. However, could it have a big impact on something they use daily? Very much so. So the news could have perhaps informed people about what was at stake.

    My particular anger stems from having tweeted Daily Politics about the story, and having submitted a comment when Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Yes, 'Father of the web', Labour digital advisor, man behind tweeted "Always been against snooping on net ... so #debill is major threat". Also tweeted Question Time.

    Zero coverage of any significance.

    Thanks. You're as bad as my MP who failed to reply to my email, and failed to turn up, much less vote.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm also pretty damn sure that the amount of CDs being borrowed from local public libraries is going to shoot through the roof now.

  • Comment number 76.

    This bill will just result in one thing, an arms race, all this bill will succeed in doing is driving people wishing to download illegally to take ever more sophisticated methods of avoiding detection, by utilising stolen accounts, hacked wireless connections and increasingly complex encyption techniques, everytime a change is made to the law to get around one of these measures, the offenders will just come up with something else.
    Most downloaders use newsgroups to download video and music, and nowadays most news services offer 256-bit encrypted SSL connections to guarantee their customers privacy, I can't see what effect this bill would have on people downloading in this way, all the ISP would see is a lot of data being transported but would have no idea as to what the actual content is, and the same would go for OFCOM if they were monitoring a connection, in order to prove that what was being downloaded is illegal content OFCOM would be required to effectively hack the encrypted data, an act which in itself is illegal in most countries is it not? Also given that most newshost services are operated in other countries outwith the UK it's highly unlikely that OFCOM could use this legislation to force newshost companies to divulge exactly what a user is downloading.
    This bill will just end up being nothing more than another Labour waste of time and money.

  • Comment number 77.

    This is a farce. All this will achieve is that determined pirates will encrypt thier P2P traffic using cheap services such as relakks or hide my ass. This easy cheap encrypted VPN neatly avoids all of the proposed methods of stopping piracy. As proven in Sweden when the pirate bay was closed down, a third of the internet usage dropped for a few months but then rose above the previous levels as the pirate comunity moved to encryption services to cover themselves.

    By encrypting your traffic you also avoid any site blocking tactics emposed by the govt. (media moguls) as you are using an offshore VPN!

    Another example of the govt. being behind the times.

  • Comment number 78.

    There are so many problems with the bill and the way it is being handled:-
    * It will criminalise the innocent because it will lead to an increase of peoples wifi being compromised(hacked) in order to download on their connection (very easy to do!).
    * Music and film companies have been goudging customers and artisits for years, if they would just sell at a fair price then the problem of piracy would go away with out the need for people to be criminalised.
    * The costing of illegal downloading to the industry is heavily biased. 99% of content downloaded wouldn't have been bought alternatively, contrary to what the music and film industry bodies say.
    * At a time when lobbying has been highlighted - it appears to be central to the lack of opposition from MPs (combined with their ignorance of the issues).
    * Society is going through a cultural revolution, easy access to content is the norm now and ultimately this bill will further alienate the draconian music and film bodies from normal people. This law will actually be bad for the music and film industries. Attempts to find new business models have always been lacklustre at best, if these companies had their way they would block the internet all together and just go back to selling CDs. There is a lot of free content on the internet and this bill will just drive up demand for that content.
    * Giving the government power to block content based on copyright breaches will be manipulated by the music, TV and film industry's to infringe on fair use, especially our right to criticise the mainstream media.

    In my opinion what would have been best is a copyright tax on internet connections, or some modification to the distribution of tv licencing money. I desperately hope when the new parliament sits something can be done to amend copyright law to strengthen fair use rights.

    In an election which increasingly depends on the internet to get points across, ministers on all sides, have in one fell swoop shown that they do not understand the basic principles that have made the internet a success. Especially when they couldn't even be bothered to show up stand by the decision, absence is not an excuse.

  • Comment number 79.

    For me, all this shows is that we don't have a democracy.

    In a democracy, how would it be several months of consultation would be squeezed into two hours?

    Most MPs didn't turn up. Those that voted just towed the party line regardless of the substantial number of people with concerns. I didn't realise MPs could vote without participating in the discussion. Not my idea of democracy.

    I'd never seen how our parliament works before, and it just seems a cozy club of people serving their own self-interests.

    This is what angers me more than the content of the bill. MPs are prepared to sit on power and profit from it (expenses, money, status) but they aren't prepared to actually turn up and vote or represent their constituents' views (rather than the party's) when required. The government is happy to get through what it believes is right rather than discuss it with the public.

    The whole situation stinks. I feel extemely angry.

  • Comment number 80.

    The Internet & all that surrounds it has led to people, society & business having to evolve & adapt beyond the 60's & 70's.

    But Music & Film industry in particular seem to think due to their financial clout & size, that they needn't evolve & that their (steam powered) irrelevant way of thinking is the only way to go!
    So like a dinosaur their place in the world is becoming uninhabitable & leading to extinction. (Hence the real reason why the DEB was created.. to prevent extinction & stifle evolution)

    So it leads to the question why wont the Government allow the big entertainment -lumbering dinos- to die off?
    ...Thus allowing the smaller -more agile- entertainment companies who have & will evolve & are using the new technologies to roll out their products in a more convenient, economical, relevant, & contemporary (digital) way! ( DEB is a money-making exercise for Music & Film Industries. Also makes the MPs sleep better in there beds, convinced they did a good thing. -for now- )

  • Comment number 81.

    Guy Fawkes was the only man ever to enter parliament with good intentions.

    The DEB will not work, it will censor the Internet for no good reason and will drive pirates underground (hiding themselves with VPNs etc) while "catching" innocent internet users who get thier WiFi networks hacked.

    It also has no effect at all on file upload websites such as RapidShare, the usage of which - along with VPNs and proxies - will shoot up.

    France recently passed a similar law. Piracy increased.

  • Comment number 82.

    12. At 2:18pm on 08 Apr 2010, Thomas Metcalf wrote:
    As a voter on the Guardian website asked, "If this is how the law is made, why obey the law?"

    Not a bad question for the forthcoming leader 'debates', should the various media gatekeepers feel it warrants asking over their respective choices of cooking equipment.

    Especially considering the number of 'laws' brought out over the last few years, especially those where those tasked with enforcement seem often unsure what is actually legal. Or not, as the default seems fine or prison (and record).

    If ignorance of the law is no excuse, ignorance from our lawmakers is inexcusable. I was going to say 'unacceptable', but that term has ben rendered facile by cynical, hypocritical overuse by those in power for too long.

  • Comment number 83.

    The reason that this bill has passed by everyone is because the majority of people will not understand what it means until it is too late. Much like the political class that made the bill, they will not understand that you cannot enforce law on cyberspace but just drive people to hide everything that they do.

    They are just alienating young people and people that know what they are doing. At the same time the big businesses and the political classes are trying to stifle this to hold onto their ancient way of living. The two extremes are just going to get further apart. Much like how war starts.

    (This post was sent through tor)

  • Comment number 84.

    I am looking forwards to the first copyright hodlers complaining that government websites are using their copyrighted materials so shut down the internet connections of all government departments.
    The use of a PhD thesis for the invasion of Iraq is the perfect example. That's breach of copyright that was obviously on government sites.

    And the artists that will be saying that the record companies have illegal copies of their materials shutting down the internet access of EMI and especially UK Music.

    If there is no legal standing for burden of proof of guilt then this is what can happen. And even if there was a requirement for proof this proof is near imposspible to authenticate. The system that ACS con merchants have used is apparently not even legal within the EU. False IP addresses can be added in BitTorrent seeds.

    There has not been much news about it as it was not explained anywhere, I didn't know about the photographers section (which luckily has been dropped) but these are major things that should have proper discussion.

    In addition I do not think that any law on this scale should be voted into law (or into the Lords rather) with such a low turnout of MP's voting. I know it's the end of washup but last time I looked there were more than 250 MP's in parliament. Even the most basic society club or student union cannot pass rules without a quorum of members. Why aren't all MP's required to place a vote one way or another on EVERY single vote?

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm confused about this disconnection thing. If I get disconnected by one ISP for alleged file-sharing, what's to stop me from paying another ISP for connection, or from going to the local wifi network and downloading from there?

    And how is this different from the clauses in just about every ISP's contract, that if they discover you doing bad things, they can terminate your contract without notice?

  • Comment number 86.

    aardfrith: "I'm confused about this disconnection thing. If I get disconnected by one ISP for alleged file-sharing, what's to stop me from paying another ISP for connection..."

    I don't think anybody knows. There was talk of a blacklist to stop that happening, but I don't think it was codified in the bill. Like so much else in there, the executive has given itself the power to do pretty much whatever it likes, so the detail will come later.

    "or from going to the local wifi network and downloading from there?"

    I think the major concern there is that those networks will cease to exist because of the liability that will result from running them.

    "And how is this different from the clauses in just about every ISP's contract, that if they discover you doing bad things, they can terminate your contract without notice?"

    Because one is an agreement between you and the ISP you're doing business with and the other is the government over-riding that agreement.

  • Comment number 87.

    Its hardly surprising that the bill should have been passed when even the Minister does not know what he is talking about.

    where he thinks that IP address means Intellectual Property Address

  • Comment number 88.

    Does the DE Bill include any provision to cut people off if they're blatantly breaking the Data Protection Act?

    If so, looks like the Tories could be in trouble.

  • Comment number 89.

    So the music industry dont want to invest in secure technology to protect their goods - well they have to pay the price for their mean fisted slack attitude - oh - if i bought something on vinyl 20 years ago do i have to pay for it again as its exactly the same stuff but in a different format - i dont think so as i've paid once for the privelege - therefore i wont - and dont start me on what i pay the bbc for - you want to be paid for repeats over and over again whilst allowing foreigners free license to say what they like on all your news channels - flaming cheek - politicans, bankers, media and megacorps think theyve got it all sewn up - but u didnt predict the recession caused by greedy western bankers did u and the next recession will take all of you down - where u belong - i hate the scummy lot of you

  • Comment number 90.

    Yes mainstream media is ignoring this important rights infringement why hasn't this been on every news channel? im seriously disgusted with the crooks in parliament and the media for ignoring this plight, the bill has basically given powers for us to be spied on, cut of websites that have, or are LIKELY TO HAVE IN THE FUTURE copyrighted material, likely to have? whos to say they wont just block sites they deem a threat and say they might have one day had illegal content on?


    They have to intercept everything we do and say online to even get the tiniest idea of what is illegal and what isn't, this is equivalent to them tapping our phones and bugging our houses and waiting for a crime to be committed,

    how on earth is this not on every news channel, we are being ignored and it is disgusting!!

  • Comment number 91.

    Tens of thousands have been very vocal about this bill. Mostly online, the very space where the digital economy operates. It seems to me that the promoters of this bill are biting the hand that feeds them.

    It also seems that campaign contributions for the pirate party have leapt up by 30% since the bill passed, and they have not declared all their election candidates yet.

  • Comment number 92.

    @PhilT #31.

    "it was a well focussed campaign, amongst its peers, but also it was a big issue in a microcosm"

    Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Ebay, BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse and France Telecom’s Orange are a few who co-wrote an open letter (published in the Financial Times) which was critical of the bill. They have nothing to gain in supporting the pirates.

    For all of you who think downloading is illegal; it is not illegal. Copyright is infringed when it is redistributed without license. Infringement cannot occur by download alone. This would be like seeing a copyrighted photo and calling it illegal viewing. It is the act of making available which breaches copyright.

  • Comment number 93.

    Isn't there a precedence for this? In the 70's the cassette tape was being named as the end of the creative process as people (me include) copied vinyl albums borrowed from my mates.

    The solution was a private copying levy placed on recordable media, implemented by many countries but not the UK. It must be time to have this here, covering media and Broadband users, instead of the draconian "technical measures" (which sounds like a Nazi euphemism for the Holocaust).

    I admit I d/l albums which are no longer available, but people have shared via P2P.

    Also what about films which are not available in Europe? I have a copy of an Israeli film which was never released in Europe but was available for d/l from the US and Israel?

    If someone uses a proxy server outside the UK to hide their IP address the law cannot be used.

    This law seems to reverse the basics of British Law. The Broadband account holder is presumed "guilty", even though someone else did the downloading, and will have to prove their innocence.

    This law is the Internet equivalent of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

    BTW there were only about 20 MPs debating the Bill when I watched it live. The vote is not valid in my view as not all views were heard and only very small minority of Constituents were represented. I noted that my MP was not present!

  • Comment number 94.

    The incredible thing about this stupid bill is that no-one has identified just how the ISPs are going to police this. How the hell are they going to monitor every packet of data flying around the internet and then decide if the total packets add up to be a piece of copyrighted material - and THEN they have to decide if it was illegally transfered or not. The alternative is for them to monitor connections to known illegal download sites - this leaves them a) chasing a moving target as these sites will chop and change and b) not log peer-to-peer transfers. It is also a serious breach of privacy.

    I will be amazed if this actually gets off the ground and even more amazed if they manage to prove if anyone has transfered a file illegally.

  • Comment number 95.

    We in this household already got disconnected from one ISP, allegedly for "illegal filesharing". Copyright holders apparently sent letters to our old ISP, insisting that we had been downloading certain computer games.

    The problem with this is that I or others in this house already own those computer games, as in, we actually bought and paid for them. With cashmoney. There is no logical reason why anyone here would say "I own a legit copy of this game. I think I shall now download it via peer to peer for no reason whatsoever even though I have the disc right here. In my hand."

    To make it even more stupid? Some of the downloading was apparently done between 3am and 6am. Our router remains connected during those hours - but the LAN our computers are on is not active. That is, the hubs are turned off. The computers can't talk to the router, therefore, rendering it completely impossible for anyone to have been downloading anything whatsoever, unless our router has gained sapience and a thirst for war games.

  • Comment number 96.

    One other little point: of course the media aren't bothering to report opposition to the bill. The media are the ones who stand to gain the most from it.

  • Comment number 97.

    "Home taping is killing the music industry"
    I seem to remember that rallying call many many years ago, then home videoing was killing the movie industry but many years later they seems to have gone from strength to strength and are making more billions than ever.

    Leaving aside the fact that the copyright laws are hopelessly out of date (why should someone have the right to sell the same product over and over again to the same person for a greater price? I mean I bought it as a record then i buy the same music on a CD, then I download the album on my ipod and I have to pay three times? Why?) this law will not make the slightest difference to piracy at all, the only people that will be punished by this law will be the naieve and innocent.

    Last night I scanned my street with my laptop, I found 4 unsecured connections anyone of these I could use to download anything and they would be the ones responsible and taken to court (assuming that they didnt just pay the massive fine out of fear, since generally normal law abiding people dont want to be criminalised even if they are innocent).

    Anyone who prefers to use their own connection to download what they want without interference need only pay £2.00 a month for a VPN (virtual private network) and have complete legal annonymity. Thats assuming you want to continue using torrents, since that what the media companies are currently targetting but there are plenty of other sources that aren't trackable out there as well.

    Take France and it's recent attempt at this very thing "three strikes and your internet is cut off" The result was torrenting down but piracy actually went up.
    "University of Rennes researchers looked into the habits of downloaders before and after the law was implemented. They found that instead of reducing piracy levels, the piracy rate actually went up by 3%."

    All this ill conceived law will achieve is the ability of the Government to shut down websites it doesnt like (sorry i mean websites that may in the future at some point possibly contain copywrited material)... Actually I wonder if that was the point all along and the rest of it was a smoke screen? No they arent that clever :P

  • Comment number 98.

    @97 - No, the whole point of this bill is for Peter M to show he is a friend of business and secure himself a nice little chairmanship once his party are booted out in May.

    As I have said many times before, there is no way on earth they are going to be able to police it, so the whole thing is part of a political and personal agenda.

    Since when do we implement legislation with absolutely no thought about how it will be policed?

    Also, if I were a shareholder of any of the media industry giants I would be demanding that my future dividends match the fantastic amount of profit they reckon they are now going to make when piracy is dead. Because as we all know, every single illegal download is a lost sale. A study for the industry in the UK reckons it will lose something like £218bn per year by 2015 (an incredible £1,200 per household) - so shareholders out there can look forward to a bumber dividend in the next few years now that Mandleson and his cronies have killed off piracy ;-)

  • Comment number 99.

    What I find disturbing in the debate about the Digital Economy Bill is the lack of discussion in mainstream media -- including journalists like yourself Rory -- about the Bill's provision allowing the Govt to censor the Internet.

    The Govt can, using the excuse of copyright infringement, shut down dissenting websites, and yet no one dares discuss this blatant attack on freedom of expression.

    I understand this provision may have been dropped (it will get it's own law instead), but the lack of debate is disgraceful.

  • Comment number 100.

    "Thousands more were repeating "I choose not to recognise the UK's Digital Economy Bill", as if that might make it go away. "

    Well, it might. Mass civil disobedience and a general election can be fabulous at concentrating the minds of politicians, particularly if the civil disobedience is being done by a technically savvy and reasonably intelligent group of people.

    I'm not pro-lawbreaking, but the summary powers to throttle purely on suspicion, without proper evidence or recourse to process, are just wrong. And do you think it will discourage the most brazen lawbreakers? No, becasue like buses, a technical solution will show up soon; in fact I rather suspect one or more people are sitting in an irc channel now working out how a workaround might function. It's what happened with freenet, for instance.


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