Gagged Geeks versus the Digital Economy Bill

The Gagged Geeks protest against the Digital Economy Bill in Sheffield yesterday exceeded all my expectations. Around thirty protesters handed out 300 leaflets – our entire stock – in less than 20 minutes. We were joined by Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield Council and Lib Dem PPC for Sheffield Central, who handed out leaflets and chatted to reporters from both Universities’ student newspapers.

Some video and photos of the event are online here: Yes, that is me mumbling incoherently into Mikey’s video camera!

Paul Scriven at the Gagged Geeks protest.

Paul Scriven at the Gagged Geeks protest.

There was disappointing news from Parliament today. Despite a massive letter-writing and direct action campaign by geeks across the UK, Leader of the House Harriet Harman has scheduled a second reading of the Bill for 6 April. This is widely expected to be the day Gordon Brown goes to the Queen to ask permission to disolve parliament. If a second reading takes place before Parliament rises for the election, the Bill will be eligible for the so-called “wash-up” process, in which the Government and Opposition front-bench teams will sit behind closed doors to horse-trade our rights away. No transparency. No scrutiny. No debate. No democracy.

If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to write to your MP and protest, which you can do in two minutes at There’s a guide to writing a good letter here

If you have already written, and you haven’t received a reply, then you could write to the local paper and call them out publicly. Here’s my letter in the Sheffield Star.

You could also turn up to one of the many election hustings being held across the country and ask your local Parliamentary candidates for their opinion – both on the Bill and the underhand way it’s being pushed through Parliament.

If you’ve had a reply from your MP, and it’s a form letter or you’re not satisfied with their answers, please write back and tell them. Point out which parts of their response you disagree with or ask them to address any specific points from your first letter that they’ve ignored. You’ll often get back a much more personal and considered response to a second letter.
Please also consider contributing the correspondance to the Open Rights Group wiki

Lastly, you could join the Open Rights Group, who campaign to protect and extend digital rights in the UK.

Disclosure: I am an Open Rights Group paying supporter and volunteer.

Photo (cc-by) Dave Ryan