The Digital Economy Bill must not be laundered through wash-up

Dear Harriet Harman

I am writing to you in your capacity as Leader of the House of Commons. My MP Richard Caborn may have made representations to you already on my behalf however I wanted to emphasise how important this matter is to me.

Please ensure the Digital Economy Bill benefits from the full scrutiny of all our elected representatives in the House of Commons. It should receive a second reading, a committee stage, a third reading and a report stage. If necessary, the passage of clauses 11-18 in particular should be delayed until after the general election, when there will be sufficient time to address line-by-line their many shortcomings.

You will be tempted to ignore this letter because you suspect it’s part of a throw-away campaign orchestrated by partial interests. Not only would such suspicion be unfounded, to succumb to it would be to ignore real anger and frustration at the way this issue is being handled, felt by the very people charged with building the UK Digital Economy: our technical experts. A search on Twitter for the hashtag #debill will confirm the outrage being expressed by net-savvy people all over the UK.

You will be told the measures in the Bill are uncontroversial and have cross-party support however more than 12,000 people have written to their MPs to protest them in the last week alone. I’m sure you will have received some of these letters personally.

You will be told the Bill is essential to protect our creative industries – by deep-pocketed lobbyists working for those industries, who have themselves drafted some of the most contentious clauses of this Bill. Lord Whitty said during the Third Reading debate in the house of Lords, “I regret to say that during the course of our consideration of the Bill, we have seen one of the worst examples in my memory of the political parties being captured by a producer interest. That applies not only to the Government and the bringing forward of the Bill, but to the opposition Front Benches as well.”

Given the current furore over lobbyist influence this Bill could prove to be political dynamite!

Lastly, and most frustratingly of all, you will be told this Bill will reduce copyright infringement on the Internet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Encryption services such as IPredator and HideMyAss, and products like the Pogoplug, rendered this legislation ineffective before it was even drafted. If you don’t believe me, consult an independent technical expert, or ask for the advice of the security services.

I support the right of creative people to make a living from their art. I do not condone copyright infringement. This is not about getting something for nothing – it’s about defending democracy, justice and human rights.

If you feel for political reasons that a Digital Economy Bill *must* pass into law during this Parliament, please remove clauses 11-18 of the present draft, and offer to bring them back for proper scrutiny in a new Bill after the election.

Thank you

Write your own letter to Harriet here:
Come to a protest against the Bill in London or Sheffield on the evening of 24 March.

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