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Digital Bill gets a giant bashing

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Several of the internet’s leading companies have launched a fierce criticism of the government’s imminent Digital Economy Bill, accusing Lord Mandelson of introducing “unprecedented and sweeping powers” for UK copyright law.

Facebook, Yahoo, Google and eBay have united in opposition to the new plans, in particular Clause 17 which allows any future Secretary of State the ability to change copyright laws whenever they see fit.

A letter from the internet consortium has pleaded with Lord Mandelson, currently involved in the second reading of the bill in front the House of Lords, to throw out the clause as they feel it will “risk stifling innovation” and damage the “government’s vision for a digital Britain”.

“This power could be used, for example, to introduce additional technical measures or increase monitoring of user data even where no illegal practice has taken place,” read the letter.

But the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has defended the legislation, claiming it is necessary to tackle internet piracy and companies should not panic that the government will spontaneously hamper their practices.

“The law must keep pace with technology, so that the Government can act if new ways of seriously infringing copyright develop in the future,” said a spokesperson for the BIS.

“There are substantial constraints on how the power can be used, with requirements for a consultation and votes in both houses of Parliament before anything can happen.”

The consortium’s challenge to the already controversial bill comes as Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have also affected Lord Mandelson’s looming plans.

Members of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) have condemned the government’s aims to terminate illegal file sharers’ access to the internet, claiming consumers cannot be “beaten over the head with a stick” without being “offered a carrot as well”.

“ISPs are being asked to police content but this isn’t about serious crime but to protect one particular set of rights holders,” said ISPA’s Secretary General Nicholas Lansman.

The bill is expected to be introduced early next year.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

December 5, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn, New Law

Tagged with , ,

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