Stop net censorship in the UK

The Open Rights Group calls attention to a proposed Digital Economy Bill amendment that, if accepted, would allow the Government to censor the web in the name of enforcing copyright law.

I have put fingers to keyboard once again, therefore, resulting in the following missive to the noble Lords who came up with the idea.

Dear Lord Howard of Rising (CON) and Lord Clement Jones (LD)

I am alarmed by your proposed Amendment 120a to the Digital Economy Bill and would like to explain why I think you should abandon it.

I have followed closely the passage of the Bill through Parliament and have written to both my MP and the members of the Lords Science and Technology Committee to express my views on the proposals to tackle copyright infringement in particular.

I am proud of the way opposition members of the House of Lords, such as yourself, have tried to hold the Government to account on issues such as disconnection without trial; defences and access to justice for those accused; excessive Ministerial powers to change copyright law through secondary legislation; and protection for public Internet-access providers such as libraries, universities and private businesses.

I feel I must protest anew the inclusion of measures such as Clause 11 and Amendment 120a that give the Government the ability to censor the Internet.

There are two problems with such proposals:

1) They will not have the desired effect on copyright infringement.

If you seek independent expert advice you will discover that dedicated infringers can use technologies such as anonymous proxies, virtual private networks and onion-routing to get around any blocking mechanism employed by ISPs. These tools are widespread in other countries that censor the Internet, such as China, Iran and Australia.

2) State censorship is wrong in principle.

In the wake of the expenses scandal I need hardly remind you that sometimes people publish information the state would rather they didn’t. The proposed measures would give the Government the ability to force ISPs to block any content it doesn’t like. This would be an unprecedented attack on individual liberty, press freedom and freedom of expression.

I implore you to abandon Amendment 120a and to vote down Clause 11.

If you’ve read this far you’re obviously as concerned as I am about Amendment 120a. Please write to Conservative Lord Howard of Rising and Lib Dem Lord Clement Jones and tell them in your own words what you think about their proposals.

One thought on “Stop net censorship in the UK

  1. I received an automated response from Lord Clement-Jones, the Liberal Democrat peer who introduced Amendment 120a and who has been most vocal in support of it since.

    I am currently out of the the office but this e-mail will be forwarded to me at

    DLA Piper are one of the UK’s largest firms of copyright lawyers. Lord Clement-Jones draws a £70,000 / year salary from this company.

    Conflict of interest, much?

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