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Letter to my MP: Digital Economy Bill

Posted by helen on Thu 18 Mar 2010 at 19:16

This is a bit thirteenth hour, but it's important, so.

Dear David Lammy

I'm writing to you because I'm very worried that the Government, driven by Lord Mandelson, intends to rush the Digital Economy Bill into law without full Parliamentary debate.

This bill is highly controversial and contains many measures that are potentially damaging. Enough people are unhappy about the bill in its current form that the Liberal Democrats were forced to officially reconsider their position at their spring conference. Many of the Lords recognise the dangerous potential of this bill, but it will not get proper scrutiny unless MPs stand up and insist on a full debate.

Clauses in this bill will damage schools and small businesses (including my own small web business) as well as innocent people who rely on the Internet. It will allow the Government to disconnect people it suspects of copyright infringement, which is worrying not only because proper investigations may not occur before disconnection, resulting in effective punishment without trial, but because the Internet is one of the most exciting tools our society has for inclusivity and social mobility. Disconnection - which would apply to all members of an affected household, including children - will impact on individuals' ability to inform and educate themselves, engage with society, interact and converse with other people nationally and internationally and involve themselves with important issues they care about. This bill will make public wifi punitively difficult to maintain, which will effectively disconnect a lot of poorer people from the Internet, who cannot afford their own connection at home. Its greatest impact will be on those who are most vulnerable.

Disconnection is a draconian measure which has no place in a free society which is trying to improve public resources and services. The Internet is the biggest, best free public resource we have. Access to it should be a fundamental civil right.

Industry experts, Internet service providers (like Talk Talk and BT), music industry professionals such as Billy Bragg, activists such as Mark Thomas and huge web companies like Google and Yahoo all strongly oppose this bill. It is worded without proper consultation to the realities of the industry, by people who do not seem to know the difference between a web host and an ISP. This issue is complex and deserves full scrutiny before punitive legislation is passed.

I am writing to you today as your constituent and a struggling small business owner to ask you to do all you can to ensure the Government doesn't just rush this bill through. This bill will have far-reaching consequences and it desperately needs proper scrutiny before it is passed. Please do not deny us our democratic right to full and rigorous debate.

Helen Lambert

The Open Rights Group have teamed up with 38 Degrees to create an easy web form if you want to write to your MP about this. Literally the only chance we have to stop this bill being rushed through before the election is if MPs, especially front-benchers, speak out to insist on full and proper debate. Thousands of people have already written to their MPs in the last couple of days; if enough people do, there's a chance we can still stop Labour from passing yet another piece of repressive and badly-worded legislation before the election.