The Digital Economy Bill, now Digital Economy Act is shortly to become law. Whilst some of the worst draconian provisions have been removed or amended, many still remain. And like so much government legislation, contains a number of 'reasonable' (as far as any fresh legislation can be said to be so) provisions, along with a number of extremely dangerous clauses that never would have passed muster if proposed alone.
Much has been written already on the issues with the Bill. The long and the short of it is that it hands the government an enormous amount of power with regards to shutting off people's internet access and blocking websites that are accused of "copyright infringement", all on the basis of a bare minimum of evidence. It has 'bad legislation', 'law of unintended consequences' and 'guaranteed abuse' written through it like a stick of seaside rock.
For what I consider to be a highly optimistic (and unlikely to my mind) account of what the Act will now mean read the Register's article here. For a more realistic and wide ranging analysis, try this telegraph blog.
Their contempt for us is total
What really struck me about this legislation however, is in spite of the valiant efforts of organisations like ORG, is how it demonstrated just how much contempt the political class hold us in. This is possibly the most important and controversial piece of legislation under the aegis of this government since the Lisbon Treaty was ratified.
Here was parliament for the second reading of the bill:
And here was parliament for the third reading of the bill:
Notice a problem? That's right - most of our so-called "representatives" are missing. In the second reading, no more than 50 MPs were present. So nearly a whopping 600 could not be bothered to show up. The third reading, when the vote was taken, was not much better and also demonstrated one of those MP behaviours that makes me want to smash their teeth out with a hammer - a handful of dedicated politicians actually debate the bill, then when it comes time to the vote the numbers swell to approximately 200 so the MPs can vote according to whatever the whip tells them. Given the severity of this legislation this is absolutely unforgivable.
In any case, if you want to check to see if your MP was there, pop by the public whip. If they did not even turn up, perhaps when they are campaigning for your vote you might want to ask them why the fuck they weren't there and why anyone should vote for them if they can't even be bothered to do their job and turn up to debate and vote.
You'll note that the CHAMPION, nay the LION of civil liberties, Nick Clegg was absent. I checked his whereabouts and according to his itinerary he was in Westminster that day for Prime Minister's Questions. Why he couldn't stick around for the evening debate and vote I'd really like to know - I guess the Vote-grubbing tourbus and its groupies was too much to resist. I'll be pursuing this one for sure and have already written to him, though I think the best explosion can wait until I can catch him in public again. Here are the details of my last encounter with the Cleggover.
Miserable enough yet? There's more!
If you're ready to beat your head on the desk until unconscious, read this article. You'll see there that our "Digital Tsar" - 'Minister for Digital Britain' and chief cheerleader for the Digital Economy Bill, Stephen Timms writes the most colossally embarrassing drivel for someone in his position. The fact he obviously has NO CLUE what Internet Protocol (IP) is should be grave cause for concern for our entire political establishment and everyone that suffers under its yoke.
On the bright side.
There is an upside - I thought this comment over at boingboing was particularly apropos and funny, maybe even practical:
"This is great news, it will bring about a new era of lols.
I offer a reward of 1 million internets to the person or group who manages to disconnect a member of Parliament or recording industry executive for an alleged copyright infringement."
"No effort must be spared in getting MPs and their families banned from the internet with only accusations, no proof..."
Particularly impressive is the official position of TalkTalk, who have publicly stated that the company will resist the Act on behalf of its customers:
our pledges to our customers:
* Unless we are served with a court order we will never surrender a customer’s details to rightsholders. We are the only major ISP to have taken this stance and we will maintain it.
* If we are instructed to disconnect an account due to alleged copyright infringement we will refuse to do so and tell the rightsholders we’ll see them in court.
I can only hope their bravery will gain them lots of custom and inspire others to resist this, truly, the most awful and corrupt of all parliaments.