Digital Economy Bill

A couple weeks ago, I wrote to my MP to raise concern for the so-called “washup” of last-minute legislation being used to push through the now highly-controversial “Digital Economy Bill.”

My reasons to write are several, and I will devote some more time to explain these later, but wanted to post my MP’s response verbatim (my address removed only.)

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Philip Dunne, MP Ludlow

23rd March 2010

Dear Zach,

Thank you for your email of March 17th regarding extreme internet laws.

For nearly twelve years, the Government has neglected this crucial area of our economy. We believe a huge amount needs to be done to give the UK a modern regulatory environment for the digital and creative industries. Whilst we welcome aspects of the bill there are other areas of great concern to us.

We want to make sure that Britain has the most favourable intellectual framework in the world for innovators, digital content creators and high tech businesses. We recognise the need to tackle digital piracy and make it possible for people to buy and sell digital intellectual property online. However, it is vital that any anti-piracy measures promote new business models rather than holding innovation back. THis must not be about propping up existing business models but creating an environment that allows new ones to develop. That is why we were opposed to original clause 17 and are still opposed to clause 29 which props up ITV regional news with BBC License Fee payers money.

The Government’s failure to introduce the Bill until the eleventh hour of this Parliament has given rise to considerable concern that we no longer have the time to scrutinise the many controversial and detailed measures outlined in their proposals. We fully appreciate these concerns. However in certain areas, including measures to allow website blocking in certain carefully proscribed circumstances, there has been substantial debate in the House of Lords. I also believe they should be debated in the House of Commons before we agree to them. Only if we are confident that they have been given scrutiny that they deserve will we support them.

IT is also worth pointing out that many of the fears about the Bill’s proposals are not entirely accurate. People won’t be discunnected from the internet without due process. And it will only be a small minority of people who consistently infringe copyright who are disconnected, not the average person who happens to have done so once or twice. Even then, they may be able to reconnect using another ISP immediately and without penalty.

Please rest assured that my colleagues in the Shadow Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills teams will do everything in their power to work towards legislation that strengthens our digital sector and provides the security that our businesses and consumers so desperately need.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch.

Yours sincerely

Philip Dunne
MP for Ludlow

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