Freedom of Information requests show that UK copyright consultation was a stitch-up; Internet disconnection rules are a foregone conclusion

Last year, the UK government held consultation into its proposed Digital Economy Act, an extremist copyright proposal created by the unelected Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. The process that followed was as dirty as any I'd ever seen (for example, the then-head of the BPI wrote an amendment proposing a national censorship regime that a LibDem Lord then introduced on his behalf. But it turns out that there was much more sleaze below the surface.

Documents released in response Freedom of Information requests show that Mandelson had already made up his mind from the start about the Act's most controversial section: the rules that said that users would have their Internet connections terminated if enough unsubstantiated infringement claims were made against their households. The "compromise" that the Act made was to suspend this measure initially, and bring it into force if the other measures in the Act failed to substantially reduce infringement. Critics called it the sham it was, saying that a 70 percent reduction in file-sharing was a delusional target, and the FOI documents show that the Act's supporters agreed -- they only intended the compromise as a means of smuggling in France-style disconnections.

Which is to say that the whole business was a sham: the Business Secretary and his pals in the record industry had stitched the whole thing up from the start, and the thousands upon thousands of Britons who wrote in never had a hope of changing things. That's why the Act was crammed through Parliament without debate in the "wash-up," hours before Labour dissolved the government.

One consultation respondent told TorrentFreak: “As someone who went to considerable effort to submit a rational and evidence-based response to the consultation on these issues, I am disappointed, although not surprised, to see that the outcome was predetermined.” The UK Pirate Party is a little more scathing.

“These documents show how outrageously complicit everyone from the entertainment industry, politicians and unions were in framing the Digital Economy Act,” PPUK Chair Loz Kaye told TorrentFreak.

“Its most controversial aspect – suspending people from the Internet – was already sorted out in July 2009. It appears that the consultation was just for show, and the lobbyists got all they asked for. There are now serious questions to be asked of successive governments’ relations to groups like Universal Music and the BPI.”

Digital Economy Act: A Foregone Conclusion?


  1. That they did this is quite galling enough.  But it’s that they will get away with it that really makes me see red. 

    Does anyone honestly think that this will have the same media impact, the same public reaction, as the expenses scandal, for instance?  But it should. 

    Whenever the government deliberately plots to deceive the people it governs, it should cause nationwide outrage.  It should cause those in power to pack their bags and slink out the back door.  But it doesn’t.

    1. It doesn’t, because the people with the education and energy to scold are rarely if ever also willing to cause real trouble for what they believe in. This includes infiltrating the organs of government and big business, if mere hindrance is too hard to maintain beyond the short term.

  2. How this will work? My ISP will stop me giving them money because I’m doing something they don’t care about? I got a warning letter for sharing an episode of Parks & Recreation and the tone was apologetic, like “NBC sent us this email so we’re passing it on. If there’s anything we can do, get in touch.” I think I’m going to trust the free market on this one.

  3. Like a wise woman once told me; All the MPs lie, but you may as well keep with labour in the votes because at least you know how bad their lies already are, you could get the lib dems and they’d be worse then labour.
    How true was that lol.

    1. I’m pretty certain that I don’t want a Freedom From Information act, because while ignorance is bliss, knowledge is power; but I certainly do want the right to make my own distinctions between signal and noise — or information and bullshit, if you prefer.  I wonder if that is close to what you meant.

  4. i even wrote to my MP on this a few months back when it was first revealed there was cloak and dagger talks happening asking for clarity and openness on the subject matter – my MP who is a tosspot tory seemed unaware of all this described above or was just playing dumb. anyway he gave me no confidence my matter i was raising was being taken seriously – a load feckinn arse!!

  5. It sounds like hackers can take advantage of this “compromise” by making sure people begin using technology that makes it difficult to track what is being accessed online. Stop the other parts of the DEA from taking effect!

  6. Sadly the UK government has become utterly predictable (and depressing) over the past few decades.

    Take any issue that comes up, think what the most damaging outcome for the majority of the voters that they can get away with is and 95% of the time, that is exactly what we get.
    It seems only mass outrage when they step far too far over the line has any effect, but even then we still only get a ‘slightly less worse’ outcome instead…

    Can we have a functioning democracy at some point please?

  7. I’m sorry but writing to your MP won’t do a lot of good, at best you’ll receive a puff piece letter that will explain to you why you are wrong and this is a good thing, at worst your letter will go in the big round file.

    You have to find it amusing that the day after the French (C) agency released a report saying, words to the effect of, you really don’t want to disconnect these people because they actually buy a load of stuff.  We have the UK government caught with it’s trousers down over similar, possibly more draconian, enforcement policies.

    Of course it should be remembered that two of the UK’s largest ISP’s have said they’ll deploy technological counter-measures to protect their customers against this bill.

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