Digital Economy Bill – UK politics inaction or in action?

Anyone who has not been following the massive debate online with #debill hashtag will have missed a horrendous hole in our democratic system here in the UK. Of course those that have missed it are probably the MP’s that decided not to bother responding to the thousands of letters and decided not show up in the house for the debate and vote.
Why is this such a travesty?
The Digital Economy bill is an all encompassing set of rules, regulations and ideas bundled together that have a huge impact on the way we in this country have access to the internet.
Of course something this important and with this amount of impact needs full democratic discussion and our representatives need to be able to consider and amend what is contained in it as the internet is the live blood for the next century.
However, this bill that has generated so much protest against it, has been steamrolled through parliament when most people were not looking as part of the wash-up process of a general election campaign. Wash-up is designed to continue the business of government whilst they all persuade us to vote for them in the next month.
What is amazing is that until this morning (after the bill had been rubber stamped) was the first mention of it I have seen on the TV. It was on BBC breakfast and only really had a spokesman for the bill not anyone against it.
So, those of us who live and work on the web have been pretty fully engaged with the politics of this bill, and yet I have seldom seen anyone speak out for it.
Amongst the more contentious issues are the ones about disconnecting pirates from the web, more importantly disconnecting anyone whose internet service is used by a pirate or anyone deemed to be a pirate. One government minister suggested this would be ok as we have passwords!
When the apparently reasonable argument is put forward that people need to be paid for their creative endeavours and people should not take their work for free one can say it sound good to put things in place to deal with that. However when that potential vested interest ends up removing our ability to use the web in a creative way, when the controls are seemingly in place to maintain the status quo of large record companies and alike to not adjust to the future and to new business models we have to ask if these controls are the right thing?
Forcing service providers to police all activity of all users at all times just in case a song is downloaded will not only eat into our civil liberties but also our wallets. Someone is going to have to pay the ISP’s to monitor and police the communication channel. That will be us the consumers and businesses that need the web to exist.
Another platitude that has been bounced around is “we will have these powers but we wont use them”, a seemingly self defeating argument.
I think we have seem a major #fail on many counts with this bill though. We have had a failure to debate and challenge the flawed bill by our soon to be unelected representatives. We have seen the rules abused to push something through the system and we have had an apparent media blackout on the subject. At the same time we have seen a massive public debate online and one that in the coming election I think will rise to the surface. After all why only make decisions about things once every 5 years with a cross on a piece of paper when we have instant live communication with one another and our representatives?
So to the thousands of fellow internet users who have felt so strongly about this, and like me have ended up writing to our MP’, tweeting, blogging, signing petitions etc. I think we have actually proved a point to ourselves about the value of the MP’s in this country.
This is the start of something I am sure!

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