Britain's Consumer Focus just sent a briefing on the dread Digital Economy Bill to every UK Member of Parliament. Parliament is preparing to pass the 24,000+ word legislation -- which includes the power to disconnect whole households from the internet if any family-members are accused of breaching copyright -- without a full debate. (Normally, legislation like this would go through 60 to 80 hours of line-by-line committee scrutiny).
Consumer Focus is greatly concerned about the provisions for technical measures in the Bill,
Clauses 10 to 13, the appeals process through which subscribers can appeal against
copyright infringement notices issued by rights owners, Clause 14, and the so called website
blocking amendment 120A, now Clause 18.
To date it is not clear how these provisions will comply with EU law and the Human Rights Act.
Furthermore the provisions have not been subject to a proper economic impact assessment as
defined by the Cabinet Office Guidelines. Hence the Government risks implementing legislation with
a significant, but as yet unknown cost to the economy. This is symptomatic of a Bill that has been
rushed through Parliament and is unlikely to realize the potential of Digital Britain. The technical
measures and web-blocking provisions would have greatly benefited from pre-legislative scrutiny,
and while some significant amendments have been made in the House of Lords, the provisions need
full debate and scrutiny in the House of Commons.
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