Britishers, Unite For Internet Justice

By Alec Meer on March 17th, 2010 at 2:52 pm.

Oh Mandy.

The current British government and its friends in the entertainment industry want the power to regulate what we download – and to punish us if they don’t like it. This must not be; while the Digital Economy Bill is posited as protection of copyrighted content – an anti-piracy measure, in other words – its proposed changes to copyright ilaws are terrifying on a level far beyond Bittorrent. You must take a stand against it. Doing so takes about a minute.

Under the bill, your internet connection will be cut off if you’re deemed to have repeatedly infringed copyright. Obviously that’s cruel and unusual punishment in all manner of ways, plus there’s the big issue of IP spoofing. There’s worse, though. Most importantly, it would require your ISP to monitor your downloading habits and to share records of them with copyright holders.

Gamer Law have an excellent round-up of what it all means, here. Crucially:

The Government would then be able to require ISPs to take “technical measures” against the suspected pirate. This seems likely to include wide reaching action like broadband throttling or ultimately even account suspension (though the Government doesn’t intend to specify exactly what “technical measures” means or how they will actually work until after DEB has become law).

It’s a “three-strikes” system, apparently, although it’s not clear how that will be dealt out, policed, or subsequently appealed against.

Furthermore, if the Bill’s major proponent, first secretary of state Peter Mandelson, gets his way, he’ll have the theoretical power to create whatever filesharing laws he (or his backers) see fit. Youtube, mods, fanfiction, Deviantart… It is an attempt to regulate and reduce everything the internet is. There are further unhappy side-effects, such as the possible loss of free coffee shop wifi and increased broadband charges.

Mandelson is trying to bring this draconian, near-sighted bill into being before the general election that’s likely to result in a change of UK government. This must not happen. At the very least, the bill must be scrutinised and modified, not rushed through before that can happen. If you are a resident of the United Kingdom, you must email or write to your MP and request he votes against it in the upcoming second reading.

The excellent people at 38 Degrees offer a fast, clever system that checks your postcode and sends a polite-but-forceful pre-written email to whoever your local MP is – it takes about a minute to do. Do it. There’s a copy of the letter below if you’d rather mail your local politicker directly.

I’m writing to you today because I’m very worried that the Government is planning to rush the Digital Economy Bill into law without a full Parliamentary debate.

The law is controversial and contains many measures that concern me. The controversial Bill deserves proper scrutiny so please don’t let the government rush it through. Many people think it will damage schools and businesses as well as innocent people who rely on the internet because it will allow the Government to disconnect people it suspects of copyright infringement.

Industry experts, internet service providers (like Talk Talk and BT) and huge internet companies like Google and Yahoo are all opposing the bill – yet the Government seems intent on forcing it through without a real debate.

As a constituent I am writing to you today to ask you to do all you can to ensure the Government doesn’t just rush the bill through and deny us our democratic right to scrutiny and debate.

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396 Comments »

  1. Inigo says:

    “Oh no! A letter! We cannot possibly put this bill through now! O woe! O misery!”

    • Shrewsbury says:

      Don’t be so goddamn stupid.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Seconded. Do you understand what democracy means?

    • Mike says:

      If your single MP gets just 5 letters or emails like this I guarantee he/she will stop exactly what he is doing and get on it asap…its his/her job

    • AVarotsis says:

      Well, he might have a point…If you feel strongly about the issue, at least write your own later instead of copy pasting somebody elses. If not, it’s just a petition. A strong worded opinion is a far more effective tool :)

    • dhex says:

      A strong worded opinion is a far more effective tool

      actually, that’s not true. what’s far more important is volume. 1000 chain letters from different people versus 100 individualized letters – which one do you think carries more weight? they don’t care how well or poorly someone writes on an issue, just that they’re pissed and they vote. mob rule and all that. :)

      good luck ye sons of albion; i’ve always regarded you as the canaries in the mineshaft of crazed governance, and these new developments are fucked up.

    • Inigo says:

      I know what a democracy is. I also know what it is not.
      It is not a government that is influenced by “friends in the entertainment industry”.

    • Guy says:

      Nope, I guarantee most MP’s will largely ignore this. I’ve worked for an MP at the same time as a large national campaign was running. We pretty much asked Party HQ for a generic template response, which was provided. Then I spent many hours filling in names and addresses and getting my MP’s signature. And then we did sweet F.A. (in fairness to my MP, the campaign was ludicrously outside of his actual responsibilities and he was one of the few decent MP’s I met)

      What it does do though is register. Your MP will be aware that you care about it. Furthermore if they are in a hotly contested seat then they’ll be hunting for every vote they can get. So it can do good- certainly I’ve emailed my MP (a useless, grubby, crook who was rather prominent in the Expenses scandal and who wouldn’t vote against her party [Labour] if you threatened to have her hung from tender-hooks above a boiling tank of cyber-squids).

      @dhex,
      Mostly we cared whether the handwriting was good. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to decipher the hieroglyphics that certain members of the British public write in. Individual letters do have slightly more impact though as you have to make very sure to read the whole thing. Identikit letters are much quicker to deal with.

    • Baboonanza says:

      I’m going to print my personalised version off and snail-mail it too, just to show I actually care.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @guy I sent an email to MP, Nick Clegg, through the Libel Reform campaign, exactly the same style, fill in the blanks etc. Within two days I received a personal email from one of his aides detailing what step the Lib Dems and Clegg in particular was doing on the matter. I’ve since been in correspondence with his office about the issue.

    • battles_atlas says:

      So what are you doing to fix our sham democracy Inigo? Posting sneery responses to efforts to generate some actual public involvement in the running of our society? Our democracy is broke because we let it get broke, so piss off with your snide apathy. If there’s one thing worse than ignorant citizens not doing a thing to save our political system, its knowable citizens not doing a thing to save it.

    • FluffyPanda says:

      I sent a letter to my MP about this a short while back and received a personal response, not a template letter.

      Then again, I didn’t use a template letter to make my point either. I think 20 of the same letter is a lot more likely to be ignored than if you take 10 minutes out of your day to actually write to your MP in your own words.

    • Guy says:

      @Tom,
      But did you check with anyone else who sent in a the same copycat letter to the Lib Dems to see if you got similar responses? I’m sure later correspondence will have been unique but the first response is usually just based on a template written for that particular issue (i.e. a Lib Dem Party hack writes a generic response letter [including what the Party thinks and says it intends to do] for everyone writing in on the issue of Libel Reform, which is used or adapted by various MP’s rather than writing their own). Certainly I sent plenty of ‘personal emails’ that I’d just taken from the Party Database.

    • Guy says:

      @FluffyPanda
      If you include one detailed, very specific point then we usually had to write a personal letter just to cover it. Campaign letters got the template response (and remember, this isn’t some MS Word template, this is a Party template, available from the Party database).

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @guy oh that wasn’t quite what I meant! I’m sure it was the initial form one, (tailored to adjust for the fact that Clegg can’t actually sign EDMs as a party leader) I just meant that I don’t think they are ignored. If their is at least someone responding and corresponding to the emails, they must do some good. I reread your original message again and see your saying much the same thing anyway.

    • Wizlah says:

      Got a surprisingly prompt, if brief e-mail back from my MP saying that he didn’t think it was going to go through parliament prior to the election. I’m hazzy on details, but I seem to recall that it’s about now that these things do get rammed through.

      Consulting Houses of Parliament, it seems that the second reading is yet to be scheduled. With 2 weeks to go until election, I figure it’s a plausible explanation, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the bill’s progress.

    • Wulf says:

      @Guy

      My MP actually voiced real concern about this, and even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, bless him. That’s Welsh Labour for you, though, they’ve got grassroots in old Labour, the only part of Labour that was ever good. He didn’t like it at all, and what surprised me was that he did his own research, and his letter to the Prime Minister was even more strongly worded than my own! This was a real eye-opener for me.

      The problem was with Gordon Brown, one of the Trio of Total Twats responsible for the switch from Labour to New Labour, he sent a letter back which was absolutely choc full of lies! I’m very tempted to publish this online, but I’m not quite sure how to go about it yet. The amount of lies that were present in Gordon Brown’s mail to my MP was worrying, he sent that mail back to me so I could read and I twigged the lies, frankly I think after doing his own research into it, he would have to. To be honest, this is why I think he sent me Brown’s letter back in its original form, so I could decide what to do from here.

      If Labour gets this in, then the best I can hope for at least is Wales going independent and stuff like this being tossed out the window. Sorry England. But Wales is still old Labour, thank goodness, because this is where all the roots of old Labour are, and if we could at least go independent then we’d be able to talk to rational, reasonable people about this bill. Whatever Mandy & The Trio of Twats are, they’re not rational or reasonable.

      If Britain was smart though, we’d all vote for one of the smaller parties, ignoring both New Labour and the Tories this time around.

    • kieran martin says:

      I’m always amused by this response. Back at Bath I chaired the student Amnesty society, where we would get people wondering how our urgent action letters could possible have an effect. A third of all urgent actions Amnesty gets involved in lead to an improvement (often not a release, but an amnesty from the death penalty). Now as a statistican I can hum and haw about correlation and causation, but by bringing a light to these cases I do think we made a difference.

      In our own country, our own government… well writing to your mp won’t necessairly always work, but it does help them become aware that people CARE about this bill, and thats important. There are, of course, other ways to influence (actually lobbying your mp, if you have the time and inclination, is worthwhile) this system, but the supposed advantage of our rather rubbish electoral system is the constituency link would be madness, and exactly what the unproportionally powerful lobbying companies want…

      In short, no its not magic, but it can and does work. Its not much time out of your day, and if you care about an issue, why not do something that costs you nothing?

      [trying reply again...]

    • Dante says:

      Incidentally, for those talking about form letters, the site actually prompts you to adjust it a much as you can to suit your own ends. The template is just that, a template.

      I’m actually registered to vote in two different constituencies, so I’ve send one off to each MP (both Labour). I’m not voting for the government in any case, but whoever is least responsive will get voted against.

    • GT3000 says:

      He’s got a point (OP that is.) as most delegates operate on two schools of thought. Representing the people’s will directly or acting in their best interest despite their feedback. Seem like a case of the latter rather than former.

    • Jockie says:

      @ Wulf I’d be very interested in reading that letter if you do publish it.

    • Bananaphone says:

      @tom

      “Within two days I received a personal email from one of his aides detailing what step the Lib Dems and Clegg in particular was doing on the matter”

      Did the email mention how the Lib Dems tried to include a juicy little extra in the bill that would have allowed the government to block web sites? It was a suggestion by those nice people at the BPI and the Lib Dems thought it was just dandy.

    • Dan says:

      Bits of response from my MP, Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, London):

      “Although it is imperative that jobs in the creative industries are protected, and it is right that artists be paid fairly for work they produce, the bill, as it stands, seems to be heavily weighted in favour of rich and powerful copyright holding companies…

      Provisions to suspend file sharers’ connections and to require internet service providers to block access to websites hosting “substantial” amounts of copyrighted material are an over reaction, dangerously intrusive and will only prove to be counter productive.

      …there is significant back bench concern on all sides, and I and my colleagues will do all we can to ensure the bill is not rushed through the House without proper debate and scrutiny.”

      So that’s good. I’ll be keeping an eye on whether he walks the walk.

  2. Paul C says:

    Done and done.

  3. Mike says:

    Done and sent.

    At least Lindsay Roy (Fife, Scotland Labour MP) will hopefully look at the bill more closely.

    • Centy says:

      and Dundee West’s Jim McGovern I’m also going to send a letter to my MSP aswell maybe we can avoid it up here at least

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute, Lib Dem) has a letter headed his way.

      It seems like the Lib Dems in the house of lords made a bit of a hash of ammending the bill to curb some of its extremes and just ended up increasing concern. To the point where they actually tried to amend their ammendment!

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @centy haha I had to read that twice. I thought you were going to email the Manic Street Preachers! I thought “well I guess that could work but wouldn’t it be more productive to…. ah… Scotland… them” :)

    • Chaos says:

      Another one on it’s way to Jim McGovern from me.

    • Dante says:

      Khalid Mahmood (Lab) and Sion Simon (Lab) for me. I can vote in either constituency, so we’ll see which one persuades me best.

  4. Shrewsbury says:

    I sent an e-mail to my MP last night. You should too.

  5. Wizlah says:

    Done. Now I’m off to read more about problems with the bill.

    • LionsPhil says:

      1) Object to the bill.
      2) Find out what the bill is.

      People like you are why democracy doesn’t work.

    • Premium User Badge phlebas says:

      @LionsPhil: Did you miss the ‘more’ there?

    • Wizlah says:

      exactly. I’ve been aware of the bill and it’s basic premise for some time now, but Alec’s call to arms prompted me to send off a proper e-mail. Having said that, I didn’t realise it was also affecting copyright law – that’s what I want to read up about.

    • Wulf says:

      @LP

      Accusing someone of ignorance whilst displaying ignorance in the same post is displaying a really distilled form of hypocrisy on your part, I’d be more careful about that.

      The thing is though, RPS is completely right about this, and of course people trust the journos here and want to get behind them. I’m just thankful RPS, or Alec rather, did say something about this.

    • Stromko says:

      A bunch of letters and worries won’t really solve anything.

      Sooner or later, any right that you are not willing to die for will be taken away. That is just basic human nature.

      If there isn’t a riot about this, it’s probably going to pass.

  6. Premium User Badge phuzz says:

    I already sent an email to my MP this morning, now I’m going to look like a swot.

    Among other things I mentioned how, as an IT bod, I need internet access to work sometimes (and therefore earn money and pay taxes), and if all three of my oh so naughty flatmates all decided to download something one day, then I could loose my livelihood.

    Feel free just to copy a form letter, but the more individual you make it the more likely they are to pay attention.

    Also, make sure you put your address in somewhere, so that they know you’re one of their constituents (an a possible voter).

  7. GS says:

    done and done

  8. Eidolon says:

    I’ve already bothered Mr Frank Doran about this, but he’s a party man and afeart of the whip.

    • Ffitz says:

      Is he in a safe seat? If not, you might like to gently remind him that following the party line will most likely mean that he’s unemployed in May.

      (Although looking at his voting record on theyworkforyou.com, he bloody deserves to get a damned good shoeing at the election).

    • Eidolon says:

      I’m not actually sure what way the wind is blowing up here, to be honest. He certainly isn’t uncontested. He sent me a letter a few weeks ago saying that he’d forwarded my concerns to Mandy – fat lot of good that’ll do. He did say that he agrees “on principle”* and I expect that he’ll continue to support it.

      *Read: because he’s being a good little MP.

    • Grunt says:

      Rats, Doran’s my MP too. Ah well, if nothing else it will get my name on a clandestine list of registered file-sharing troublemakers.

  9. MikeArthur says:

    Thanks for posting this here Alec, hopefully our MPs are going to be barraged with letters over this issue and will actually consider what this means for the public rather than just the rightsholders.

  10. RC-1290Dreadnought says:

    Doesn’t this just mean we will from now one encrypt everything we do on the internet, to make it more difficult to detect stuff?

    • Mike says:

      Exactly.

      Its a bit of a faff but once you know how its pretty simple to just mask everything you do on the internet by sending your data through proxies or whatever.

      For the illegal filesharers, they are going to be savvy enough to just do that anyway. Everybody else gets screwed.

      Its DRM from hell.

    • Persus-9 says:

      Yeah but if the bill really does give the Secretary of State has the power to pass new laws in regard to this area then he couldn’t he fairly legitimately and very scarily make most encrypted traffic illegal on the basis that it harbours pirates?

      It could perhaps work on the basis that any encrypted traffic would only be allowed to go to certain authorised IPs that businesses would have to register IPs they wished to use for secure connections and prove were only being used for e-commerce purposes and the like so any encrypted connection made between two unauthorised IPs would be illegal. That would be horrific to a truly Orwellian level but I get the impression that is might be legal under this bill. 0_o

    • sonofsanta says:

      @Persus: the powers for the Secretary of State to pull laws out of his ass as he sees fit have been removed by the Lords.

      Saying that, they then said “have you thought about…” and now there’s provision for blocking access to sites suspected of harbouring copyrighted material. Bloody Lords.

    • Persus-9 says:

      Cool, thanks for the info. Still that means that it gives the government the legal right to censor the internet based on their suspicions, that’s more than scary enough for me.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      Because if this bill passes many more people are going to start using encryption to download their pirat^^^^linux distributions, the security services are actually against the idea.
      http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2010/03/13/whats-worrying-the-spooks/

  11. Alex Bakke says:

    Anyone living in West Bromwich is sorted, as Tom Watson, one of the best men in parliament for talking about digital matters, is the MP there.

    I however, live in Newbury, which has Richard Benyon, i.e. massive dick.

    But yes, to anyone who thinks this won’t do anything: MPs, generally, will respond to every sensible email sent to them.

    • Premium User Badge phlebas says:

      Benyon seemed a decent enough chap (bar his party affiliation) until he actually got elected, since when he’s sucked up and taken the party line on everything. I can’t imagine he’d oppose this for any good reason, but it’s possible he could be persuaded to do so on partisan grounds.

    • Alex Bakke says:

      My friend was at the Hungerford Hustings the other day, and he stood up: “Hi there, I’ve heard some good policies from Mr. Rendal, but none from Mr. Benyon. And he oohed and ahhed, not willing to give anything away. The one policy he did issue was one that the Labour MP (I can’t remember her name, she’s not important.) had said moments before.

      Where’re you based?

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      Tom Watson might be pro gaming, but do you agree with everything else he’s been voting for?

      Voting record (from PublicWhip)
      How Tom Watson voted on key issues since 2001:

      * Voted strongly against a transparent Parliament.
      * Voted moderately for introducing a smoking ban.
      * Voted very strongly for introducing ID cards.
      * Voted very strongly for introducing foundation hospitals.
      * Voted strongly for introducing student top-up fees.
      * Voted very strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws.
      * Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
      * Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.
      * Voted very strongly for replacing Trident.
      * Voted very strongly for the hunting ban.
      * Voted moderately for equal gay rights.
      * Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

      theyworkforyou.com

    • Alex Bakke says:

      I see your point, but the situation so far is that there’s not that many people in Parliament who actually care about gaming/digital rights.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ phuzz

      …those ‘summaries’ don’t tell the whole story – someone can be ‘pro-’ something but still vote against a rival party’s amendments or odd-ball alternatives or simply be absent from the vote. All of these count towards an ‘anti’ / less than perfect ‘pro’ score.

      You need to look at the details of the votes/issues in question – which you can find on the same website – before passing judgement.

    • andrew says:

      @phlebas

      yeah, because obviously being a Tory automatically makes you scum. I love how people in certain corners of the internett just assume everyone has the same smug student politics worldview as them and will just categorise anything right of Mao as simply “bad”

    • Persus-9 says:

      “yeah, because obviously being a Tory automatically makes you scum”

      Quoted for truth.

      :P

    • Premium User Badge phlebas says:

      @andrew: I didn’t say that. He seemed a decent chap and I would probably have voted for him would that vote not have counted as a vote for a party whose policies I largely detest. It is quite possible to be a decent and worthwhile human being and yet be horribly mistaken.

    • Premium User Badge phlebas says:

      Update: I have a reply from Mr Benyon – kudos to him for the swift response! Not so much kudos for the fact that the reply is a cut and paste of the party line on a different section of the bill and doesn’t actually address what I said.

  12. Nick C says:

    Done. Can I also recommend theyworkforyou.com; it’s got a good record of how your MP votes and general info as well how to get in touch with them.

  13. Clovis says:

    I thought the bill also included something horrific about forcing ISPs to block websites that host significant infringing content or something. I think that part is actually worse than the idiotic 3-strikes style laws.

    For readers, like me, who don’t live in the UK, keep in mind that that similar proposal are supposedly part of ACTA. So, pretty much everyone living in a democratic country should be sending emails/letters to their representatives.

  14. Bhazor says:

    Hey Alec, hows about you tell us the facts rather than the paranoid Doctorowesque version of it.

    No mention of the required length of notice the government are required to give before taking action? Or the fact that suspending access is the maximum sentence after a person continues to infringe the law after “Technical measures could only be used against infringers who met the threshold for inclusion in a copyright infringement list under the initial obligations. Technical measures would be likely to include bandwidth capping or shaping that would make it difficult for subscribers to continue file-sharing, but other measures may also be considered. If appropriate, temporary suspension of broadband connections could be considered. “? No mentions of the right to appeal? The fact it is up to the owner of the copyright holder to press charges rather than some authoritarian super computer with mind powers and phone taps (so only dickish publishers who are already dicks will be dickish with this bill)? No mention that the list of “infringers” being given to the copyright holder is anonymous so is only functional for statistical analysis? No mention that this is a single clause of a much larger bill that would also see game age classifications to be more strictly adhered to and also require Channel 5 to be less crap?

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/en/index_089.htm

    • Premium User Badge Flimgoblin says:

      No doubt some parts of the DE bill that are decent. However, there are some horrifyingly open holes for someone to do terrible terrible things with it at present.

      The poll tax had its good points too (like cutting down on the administration required)… (totally trying to avoid a Godwin here)

      Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t a “stop the ebil debill!” campaign. This is “stop them ramming it through parliament before it gets properly discussed and all the hideous bits removed”.

      This was supposed to be a bill to stimulate the digital economy, as it stands it’s going to cripple it.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I was going to say, there is a lot of bureaucracy you have to go through and rules you have to break before you get banned, and I believe I read something stating that the focus was strongly on bittorrents, and uploaders not downloaders or services like rapidshare (if you were worried about that). In fact one of the copyright holder’s criticisms of the law was that it only targeted less recent methods of filesharing.

      But despite this, I still agree this is an awful law. Companies should be taking their own initiative and adjusting like Valve. There was a very interesting article I read, I think in Wired magazine, about the economy of free – there is so much that can be done with advertising, just look at spotify and half of the internet. Why has this not been applied to games in a useful way?

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      @ Bhazor

      I’m sure there’s some sensible things elsewhere in the bill (if it forces Channel 5 to get some real news on instead of Live at Studio 5 then that’s a plus!).. I’m also sure that the government probably wont go to the extremes that the bill allows them to go to.

      However just because they probably wouldn’t go that far doesn’t excuse the more draconian clauses in the bill for being there. While they might not be used the fact that they are there and clearly a step too far is reason enough for the bill to be debated with more scrutiny, instead of rushing through some poor legislation.

      Also the fact that it’s “up to the owner of the copyright holder to press charges” doesn’t really make the situation that much better. It could lead to copyright holders threatening legal action for somewhat spurious reasons and forcing sites who couldn’t afford to fight a lenghty legal battle to remove content that the copyright holder didn’t like. It may well be that the copyright holder had little ground to start legal action and may well have lost at court but many websites wouldn’t be able to fight this. It’s not an ideal situation and is kind of analogous to the spurious libel claims that sometimes crop up.

    • Ffitz says:

      I’m also sure that the government probably wont go to the extremes that the bill allows them to go to.

      Without wanting to sound all tinfoil hat about it, it’s never, never safe to make this kind of assumption. Any group in power will test the boundaries of that power, whether it’s police (look at the misuse of the terrorism laws), politicians (misuse of expenses) or corporate executives (any number of scandals).

      Power has to be controlled and the necessary oversight must be maintained, or it gets abused and us the general population are the ones who pay the price. it’s our job in a democracy to scrutinize those who we give power to. If we don’t (and no-one else will do it for us), we’re fucked.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Principle & precedent > near-sighted qualifiers

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      @ FFitz

      Agreed. That was pretty much the point I was trying to make but reading my post back it did get lost somewhere amongst some rather mangled writing! Note to self: must read back posts more often.

    • Bhazor says:

      My point is to go to the source. Don’t read the boing boing bullet point version or the version your mate told you about. Go to the actual bona fide source, catch a freshly hatched fact before it becomes a news.

      I do find it vaguely insulting that Alec fails to link to the actual bill as if he thinks us readers are unable to handle reading a frickin’ bill. Let alone encouraging the idea of spamming because obviously we aren’t capable of writing our own frickin’ letters.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Re linking – this is RPS, man! You surely should know by now that Ineptitude is always the truth behind any perceived conspiracy in our posts. Just forgot the link; mailing from phone atm, but will edit in when back home.

    • Nick says:

      Maybe thats just what you WANT us to think, Alec.

      I’m onto you.

    • TeeJay says:

      “unable to handle reading a frickin’ bill”

      I’m not ‘unable’, but I am not that willing to plough through the entire text to find the bit about cutting off internet access.

      As you have taken the time to read the bill already, can you tell me which clauses, topics and schedules specifically relate to this?

    • Bhazor says:

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/en/10089x–.htm#index_link_8
      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/en/10089x-a.htm#index_link_15

      These two are probably the most important. The first is what actions can be taken and the second clarifies that blocking someone is a last resort after several warnings.

    • TeeJay says:

      <i>I do find it vaguely insulting that Alec fails to link to the actual bill</i>
      You haven’t linked to the actual bill either. You’ve linked to the “explanatory notes”
      “They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament … The Notes need to be read in conjunction with the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the Bill.”
      *This* is the actual Bill itself: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/10089.i-iii.html
      It is important to read the actual text of the laws that will be passed, not some opinion or interpretation by a ministry. The explanatory notes are just a discussion, they are not the final word nor legally binding in any way whatsoever. The views and interpretations included in the explanatory notes are often disputed by other people.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Bhazor

      Your links don’t actually clarify “that blocking someone is a last resort after several warnings”. The final details for the number of warnings etc are not set out. The Bill gives Mandelson the power to draw up new rules. The explanatory notes just give some ‘possible examples’ – examples which are not legally binding on Mandelson or OFCOM etc.

      There is nothing here that would prevent a scenario where a 20-day countdown to blocking is provisionally applied after a couple of emails are fired off at a customer a few minutes apart, automatically triggered when any copyright holder reports any IP to an ISP and from then on it is a matter of ‘appealing’ against the blocking.

      This is a *possible* scenario as the bill stands now, and the explanatory note you have quoted discusses other ‘possiblities’, but the Bill itself (which you keep avoiding linking to) doesn’t set out the detailed rules – it just gives the Secretary of State general powers to write them in the future.

  15. Mr Chug says:

    Sent. Possibly the first time I’ve been glad there’s a Tory in my constituency, since the Conservatives don’t seem to have got round to curling out a party policy on this one.

  16. ChaosSmurf says:

    Sent and linked them to this article for “more explanation”.

  17. DanPryce says:

    Done. I threatened to wait outside my MPs house with a sniper rifle if he didn’t act, just to be sure.

    • Ffitz says:

      “Please lie down on your stomach, and put your arms at your sides. The party associate will arrive shortly, to collect you for your party. Make no further attempt to leave the testing area. Assume the party escort submission position or you will miss your party.”

    • Heliocentric says:

      Campers deserve nothing.

    • Paul C says:

      You are NOT credit to team

    • DanPryce says:

      Just being polite and efficient.

  18. Flowerpot Wang says:

    Done. I love the fast, efficient system that they use to allow me to send an email to my local MP – sent a polite, well thought out letter in less than five seconds (in fact less time than it took to think about and write this comment) :D

  19. The Diddler says:

    >implying politicians care what the mob wants

    see Ireland & EU

    • DrGonzo says:

      Or you could say look at the death penalty being abolished, women getting equal rights and the National Health Service. The general public didn’t want any of those things. People are stupid. Not that I support this internet law issue, but people are dumb and don’t usually know what’s best for them. For example, the EU.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      Heil Hitler Gonzo!

  20. Bobsy says:

    We’ll miss Mandy when he’s gone. He’s sinister, conniving and creepy, but he is at least entertaining in a villainous way.

    And yes, this is a very important cause to get on. My MP’s not known for being particularly vigorous or interesting (he was bludgeoned by a corruption scandal years ago) but still, he deserves to know that this bill he’d otherwise not give a second glance to is very much on the naughty side of the scale.

  21. HoldTight says:

    Old people shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions regarding things like the internet.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Hahah, there’s actually truth to this.

      IE people should really not be able to make such monumental decisions about things that they have little or no understanding over.

      (of course, to stir the nest, that’s also the problem with the basic concept of democracy. The majority rules but the majority rarely knows what’s best or even all the facts)

    • DrGonzo says:

      I know! Internet Explorer sucks right…

  22. Myros says:

    Done.
    Sent an email to the main gov home office too. I can’t believe these unelected “officials” are trying to rush this type of thing through before an election.

  23. Baboonanza says:

    Can’t we just assasinate Mandelson?

    Even if it won’t stop the bill? Please?

  24. Sweedums says:

    sent mine to Mr Rooney of Bradford.. :)

    power to the people and all that…

  25. Colthor says:

    Check that the site has the correct MP for you; whilst it got the correct constituency for my postcode, it has the Northampton North MP assigned to Northampton South.

    As MPs can only respond to their own constituents this could cause problems.

  26. Vaporz says:

    Orwell’s rolling in his grave.

    • Ffitz says:

      The standing joke is that 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yes because this is exactly the same thing as Nineteen Eighty-Four. Just like having a public insurance option is exactly the same as Stalins death camps.

    • Ffitz says:

      Bhazor, do you have an interest to declare in this at all?

      Do you not find the idea of permanent monitoring of your internet traffic (because that’s the only way this will work) to be worrying whatsoever?

    • Bhazor says:

      1984 happens to be my favourite book and people invoking BB at the slightest provocation is one of my big pet peeves. Particularly since The Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four were freeware (what with the whole communism thing) and freely distributed their books and music. So calling copyright protection Orwellian is so confusing it gives me a damn head ache.

      Have some respect for the damn book you basts!

    • Ffitz says:

      Bhazor, for me it’s the surveillance aspect as opposed to the copyright aspect. More and more legislation from this government takes the view that we’re all potential criminals as opposed to presumed innocent, and that the method of dealing with all these potential criminals is by watching what we do – frightening the population into complying with the law. New Labour have always had a nasty authoritarian streak running through them.

    • drewski says:

      Left wing parties, oddly, often do. Right wing parties tend to have the constant struggle between libertarians and genuine Torys, which keeps their authoritarian instincts in check, but left wing parties generally don’t have as strong a libertarian ideology (being naturally collective-leaning) and so are more likely to fall prey to authoritarian thinking.

      Of course, the libertarian portions of right wing parties tend to be increasingly marginalised these days so the distinction is becoming less clear. Suffice it to say all politicians want to remove your individual rights, they just tend to go for different ones at different times.

  27. kalidanthepalidan says:

    Way to fight the good fight my British friends!

  28. sonofsanta says:

    Sent my lengthy diatribe against the Bill off to Mr Peter Tapsell. Got a bit carried away to be honest. Even used the letters after my name, and I never do that.

    In all honesty, this thing is a bloody stupid idea. I’m with Baboonanza, in a sense; though I’d prefer him to be put in stocks so we can all take a good hard kick at his arse, the daft cunt.

  29. Tei says:

    You will be monitored, hence your privacy will be broken. You will be tagged of criminal, and the single accusation will be enough, so you are not inocent by default in the view of the law. You will be isolated, banned outside of the social and economic centre of our today society, internet.

    There has to be very strong forces to push so obvious anti-democraty laws like this one.

  30. Coins says:

    Oh no, you poor British! This almost totalitarian thing has jumped the pond. We had it too, but I think it didn’t pass, since I can’t seem to get any information on it. Ahem, veering off course here. Tell your friends, neighbours, telephone contacts and random strangers. I hope you succeed in battling this infringement on your (and our!) privacy.

    Oh, and if you are a part of the EU, which I am assuming, the ACTA agreement might be something to look into, as well.

  31. Mr Fossy says:

    I wasn’t aware this was happening in Britain. I thought the proposed Australian internet filter was bad, but this must feel very distressing for you poor chaps in the UK. I don’t even understand where such legislation comes from (I’m talking about Australia’s filter now, as well). I mean, do entertainment industry lobbyists really have so much influence over politicians who, from what I have read about the UK, should be scrambling to hold onto whichever seats they can?

    I suppose the fate of this grassroots action will answer that question :)

    Good luck!

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Ents industry schmoozers have cash to throw around to entertain politicians if not simply “donating” it to them. The UK is gearing up for an election in May so politicians are getting friendly with anyone who has money to “donate” to their party or anything which they think will get them more votes. That’s where this sort of stuff comes from, politicians don’t just wake up one day & think “I know, today I’ll try & help cut down all the illegal filesharing that is rampant on the internet. That’ll make the country a better place to live for everyone” (politicians don’t wake up & think anything which isn’t directly related to the number of votes they’ll get in the next election or cash going into their “donation” funds).

  32. a says:

    Wow, that’s pretty fucked. Good luck, guys.

  33. Alaric says:

    Someone, give me a postcode to use!

    • Collic says:

      I’m sure you mean well, but please don’t use the site with a fake postcode if you aren’t a UK resident, it’ll do more harm than good. Spread the word to any other Brits you know by all means though :)

    • TeeJay says:

      If you are based overseas just send an email to Gordon Brown (and/or Cameron (Conservatives) and Clegg (Lib Dems) telling him how uncool and backwards this looks to people in your country.

    • archonsod says:

      Or if you’re from a colony other than the US, write to your head of state HRH Mrs Windsor and request she refuse royal assent for the bill

  34. Web Cole says:

    Done.

  35. Ginger Yellow says:

    I dunno. I’m as angry about the state of IP law as anyone, but I think this bill is pretty mild on the whole. There are data privacy concerns for sure, but other than that it’s about as minimal a response to what is under current law rampant lawbreaking as you can get without doing nothing at all.

    • Tei says:

      “current law rampant lawbreaking as you can get without doing nothing at all.”

      Here in spain is legal to download music for no commercial purposes. Your comment is circular, you ask for more laws to stop people that break laws? thats like asking for more gasoline to trown at a fire.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      No, what I mean is that rather than, say implementing a regime to thoroughly enforce the current law, (which would result in fines or theoretically imprisonment for up to six months), they’ve implemented a regime which basically gives infringers several warnings and then messes with their internet connection. I’d hardly call that draconian. But that doesn’t mean I think the current law is correct or should be enforced in a draconian manner.

    • TeeJay says:

      Enforcing current laws would involve proper due legal process (presumption of innocence, trial requiring evidence, verdict reached by independent judiciary etc).

      This supposedly ‘milder’ version simply involves accusations/’warnings’ and then ‘punishment’ – a combination of judge/jury/executioner by some petty bureaucrats with the ‘right’ of appeal only *after* the fact. This smacks of the ‘couldn’t-be-bothered-with-proper-justice’ instant and on-the-spot fines that see people regularly getting screwed by target-driven parking companies for example.

      If crime is being committed and is having serious impacts then due legal process should be used, not mickey mouse proof-free and process-free bureaucracy.

  36. Cameron says:

    I dont see the point, everything is fine the now so why go to the bother? it seems pointless if you ask me

    • Shadow Aspect says:

      @ Cameron.
      I’m fairly sure you’re joking but one never knows :)

  37. Super Bladesman says:

    I know this law is evil and bad etc and so forth. But for the sake of balance and at the risk of being flamed, I’m not sure I’m against it, per se. If I don’t do anything illegal, and I protect my router, and if I properly supervise my child(ren) when he(they) arrive(s), have I actually got anything to worry about.

    Theft is bad, and actually I don’t pirate anything. I quite understand why some sections of government and industry feel this sort of action is necessary :(

    I know, I know – evil and bad, the sky risks falling on our heads when this law passes – but to be honest, I also expect a little more balance from RPS…

    • Risingson says:

      Just think a bit about it, and you will realize that the thought “If I don’t do anything bad why should I worry” is extremely dangerous for the rest of the people and for yourself. Scifi alegories and , well, history, has taught us about it.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      I appreciate what you’re saying, but the phrase “the innocent have nothing to fear” ought to strike fear into the innocent everywhere. If there is law introduced (as a convenient fiction) that says that every word we type into our computers will me monitored, for counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-drug dealing, paedophilia, etc. then I will have absolutely nothing to fear as I don’t engage in any of these activities, but I don’t want someone breathing down my neck at all times waiting for me to fuck up. Innocent until proven guilty is one of the very cornerstones of liberal democracy, we should stand up for it even if we’re not the ones that will have our criminal exploits curtailed. Even my mum is incensed by this law and she only uses the computer for solitaire and Peggle!

    • Phydaux says:

      “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” – Cardinal Richelieu

    • TeeJay says:

      Any process that works on ‘allegations’ >> ‘warnings’ >> ‘punishment’ means that you aren’t presumed innocent. This isn’t a proper legal process. It’s a bunch of pointy-heads claiming they emailing you once or twice then cutting you off, at which point you need to ‘prove’ you are innocent.

      Anyone who has suffered the criminally stupid/corrupt behaviour of certain government benefits/housing agencies or private contractors (eg parking companies) will know that whenever they are given powers without any effective checks on them they routinely screw people’s lives up by cutting off money, making bogus accusations and denying services, often to meet targets and/or gain revenue.

      No way should powers be given out for cutting off or downgrading internet connections without a full and fair legal process in place.

    • Josh W says:

      Anyone who says “If you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide”, either hasn’t thought through the implications, or has a weird view on sex.

      Some things are private.

  38. Theory says:

    I’m going to start wading into the bullshit surrounding this bill with the bill. Sections 4 through to 17 are the interesting ones. I found it fairly legible and not terrifically long, but nevertheless a flowchart summary is available here.

    Onward!

    Under the bill, your internet connection will be cut off if you’re deemed to have repeatedly infringed copyright.

    No. Under the bill, ISPs will be expected to scan public torrents for connections from their servers. They will send several warning letters to the customers in question, and if they are repeatedly ignored add that account to a list of serious offenders. Rightsholders can identify people on this list who have been pirating their material with a court order, and then they can then sue the offenders through the courts as happens today.

    If that doesn’t significantly dent downloading (as judged by OfCom), then a second bill can be made which replaces an appearance in court with “technical measures”, and an ex-judicial appeals system (don’t be scared: inquests, employment tribunals and planning appeals are ex-judicial too). The measures may include cutting people off from the internet, or they may not: it depends on how effective the bill being tabled today is.

    If you don’t want disconnection to become a possibility, then vote with your bits and stop pirating. You’ll be getting plenty of warning letters for encouragement.

    plus there’s the big issue of IP spoofing

    First, a “big issue”? The victims here are individuals. Unless you are well-known, there is very little chance that anyone anywhere cares enough to spoof your IP on a tracker. With that said, although a spoofed IP can’t download anything (the responses are sent to the victim’s computer rather than the attacker’s, so parity checks are not received), it may be possible to make it appear that the victim is seeding. It depends on whether seeding requires downstream traffic. IP spoofing is a general security threat however, and I’d be surprised if BitTorrent didn’t counter it somehow (e.g. a handshake).

    Most imporantly, it would require your ISP to monitor your downloading habits and to share records of them with copyright holders.

    As pointed out above, ISPs will gather addresses by connecting to public trackers (or equivalents) and examining the IP lists that appear, as any member of the public can. Monitoring an individual’s use of the net is illegal AFAIK, and this bill doesn’t change that.

    the theoretical power to create whatever filesharing he (or his backers) see fit. Youtube, mods, fanfiction, Deviantart…

    I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. If it’s a reference to the “Power to amend copyright provisions”, then any order under that section still requires “a draft [to have] been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament”.

    From the comments:

    I thought the bill also included something horrific about forcing ISPs to block websites that host significant infringing content or something. I think that part is actually worse than the idiotic 3-strikes style laws.

    I’ve never heard of this before. I don’t think it’s in there.

    No mention that the list of “infringers” being given to the copyright holder is anonymous so is only functional for statistical analysis?

    Initially that is the case, but the rightsholder can apply for a court order to identify people on their list (124A 6c).

    • Theory says:

      I’ve found Clovis’ clause. It’s an amendment that replaces the section on changing copyright law with one that allows the High Court to block sites which have lots of pirated material and don’t do anything about it.

      Finding the amendment shows that the links in my reply above are out of date. Here is the most recent version of the bill. Meanwhile, the latest version and amendments can be found here, but unfortunately they don’t do diffs. ;)

    • Bhazor says:

      Thanks I was looking for that flow chart.

      But lets not muddy a perfectly good frothing session with something like balance or reading the actual bill. That takes too long.

      Without further ado
      BOOOoo! This is exactly how Big Brothah startted!!!!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Nice work.

    • passingtramp says:

      Good summary Theory (and even better Haddock avatar).

    • Pace says:

      Thanks Theory.

    • Bhazor says:

      One point I would like to add is that offenders remain anonymous if passed on to the Copyright holder. They’re only identified if legal action is taken after the offender fails to quit after being warned by their ISP.

      ” * Notify their subscribers if the internet protocol (“IP”) addresses associated with them are reported by copyright owners as being used to infringe copyright; and

      * Keep track of the number of reports about each subscriber, and compile, on an anonymous basis, a list of those (“relevant subscribers”) who are reported on above a threshold to be set in the initial obligations code. After obtaining a court order to obtain personal details, copyright owners will be able to take action against those included in the list.”

      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/en/10089x–.htm#index_link_8 (clause 34)

    • Bhazor says:

      And of course you already clarified it.

      Thanks Theory
      Thany.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      The Pirate Bay have admitted that they add spoof IPs to their logs, just to mess with the entertainment lawyers, so even if you are innocent, you definitely still have something to fear (even if it is being collateral damage in the pirate bay’s lulz).
      http://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-tricks-anti-pirates-with-fake-peers-081020/

    • Theory says:

      I take credit for the explanation but not the avatar. I nicked it from Kestrel, who sometimes appears in the comments. :-)

    • Theory says:

      phuzz, IPs are gathered by connecting to an active torrent and downloading from people. Server logs don’t come into it, probably for that very good reason!

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Theory,
      Based on the *flowchart* you linked to:
      1. It is the “rights holder” which identifies IP addresses and gives them to the ISP, not the ISP.
      2. ISP’s will send emails not letters.
      3. No “second bill” is mentioned – the secretary of state can bring in stage 2 technical measures without any new laws.
      Maybe the flowchart is different from the text?
      Also you seem to be conflating discussion of the “first stage” and “second stage”. The “first stage” is just a transition phase and I severely doubt there will be much measurable impact in the first 12 months of the bill being passed when nothing much has changed on the ground and where the figures are going to be ‘mallable’ anyway. It just gives a bit of a fig leaf cover for moving to the ’second stage’. Do you seriously think that Mandleson et al are not going to say “technical measures / stage two is neccessary”? It’s obvious that stage 2 will be implemented if this bill passes.
      (ps you haven’t even linked to “the bill”, you’ve linked to the “explanatory notes”!)

    • Theory says:

      It is the “rights holder” which identifies IP addresses and gives them to the ISP, not the ISP.

      It’s both. Rightholders do it in Obligation to notify subscribers of reported infringements, and ISPs do it in Obligation to provide infringement lists to copyright owners.

      ISP’s will send emails not letters.

      It’s not stated either way. I expect that most will do both.

      No “second bill” is mentioned – the secretary of state can bring in stage 2 technical measures without any new laws.

      You’re right: it’s not a bill but an order. It still has to be approved by both houses, which was the point I was making.

      The “first stage” is just a transition phase …It just gives a bit of a fig leaf cover for moving to the ’second stage’. Do you seriously think that Mandleson et al are not going to say “technical measures / stage two is neccessary”?

      You are entitled to your opinion, but I think that after a year repeated warnings followed by litigation would have had any impact they were going to. (It won’t be Mandy in the post BTW, unless Labour somehow win the next election.)

      And I did link to the bill, in both cases. The ‘Explanatory Notes’ headings only cover their first paragraphs. :P

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Theory

      You said “Under the bill, ISPs will be expected to scan public torrents for connections from their servers.”

      The Bill does *not* contain this requirement.

      The process is:

      Copyrightright-holder identifies IP address > passes this to ISP (makes a copyright infringment report = “C.I.R.”) > ISP informs subscriber of C.I.R. (see: Obligation to notify subscribers of reported infringements)

      Copyright-holder can request an aggregated “copyright infringement list” from ISP > ISP passes anonymised list (eg total number of CIRs linked to subscriber #936 and names of copyright owners involved) – this is designed to help copyright holders identitfy ‘high volume’ infringements. The Copyright holder would *already* have the IP address. (Obligation to provide infringement lists to copyright owners)

      Neither of these things is an obligation on anyone to “scan public torrents”. “CIR” reports only ever originate from the copyright holders, and the “lists” they get back are simply aggregated “CIR” data.

      You said “They will send several warning letters to the customers in question, and if they are repeatedly ignored add that account to a list of serious offenders”

      The Bill does not contain these details.

      It does in fact mention emails:

      Clause 4 (part 9) – Obligation to notify subscribers of reported infringements
      “In this section “notify”, in relation to a subscriber, means send a notification to the electronic or postal address held by the internet service provider for the subscriber”
      link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmbills/089/10089.1-7.html#j154

      Wityh all types of legislation the kind of ‘rule changes’ described in stage 2 are typically “waved through”. It is the original Bill that needs to be examined and dealt with.

      There won’t be a whole year of “repeated warnings followed by litigation” – it takes government bureaucracy and lawyers that long to roll anything out – the process will not have been in full swing for 12 months and the figures aren’t even being collected at the moment so any analysis of the “impact” based on them will be very suprious IMO.

      Stage 1 is not that different from current arrangements, except it brings in one part of the process. Stage 2 brings in the ‘removal of service’ part (which everyone is getting pissed off by) to replace a proper (and expensive) legal process.

      Mandleson is putting in place the enabling processes and legal powers, but leaving the “kick” to later… and it seems some people are being suckered by the ‘it might not happen’ and ‘wait and see’ rubbish.

    • Theory says:

      You said “Under the bill, ISPs will be expected to scan public torrents for connections from their servers.” The Bill does *not* contain this requirement.

      OK, yeah, on closer reading I got that bit wrong. ISPs only have to respond to reports from rightsholders. Whether they are expected to cross-reference them against their own logs will depend on OfCom’s quarterly reports.

      Neither of these things is an obligation on anyone to “scan public torrents”.

      How else are the IPs to be gathered? It might not be an obligation written into the bill itself, but it’s how things are going to work under it.

      You said “They will send several warning letters to the customers in question, and if they are repeatedly ignored add that account to a list of serious offenders”. The Bill does not contain these details.

      Everyone gets a letter for each report, but the rightsholders only get back the accounts of “relevant subscribers”.

      5(3): “A subscriber is a “relevant subscriber”…if copyright infringement reports made by the owner to the provider in relation to the subscriber have reached the threshold set in the initial obligations code.”

      8(5): “The threshold…may be set by reference to any matter, including in particular the number of reports, the time within which the reports are made, and the time of the apparent infringements.”

      I suppose it’s theoretically possible for OfCom’s code to ignore time factors, despite the wording of the bill, and so allow a prolific pirate to become “relevant” so rapidly that there is only time for a single warning. But that’s pulling a worst-case scenario out of thin air. There will be time buffers.

      With all types of legislation the kind of ‘rule changes’ described in stage 2 are typically “waved through”. It is the original Bill that needs to be examined and dealt with.

      I’m not sure that cutting people off from the net would be waved through, but I do agree that this bill is the important part of the process.

      There won’t be a whole year of “repeated warnings followed by litigation” – it takes government bureaucracy and lawyers that long to roll anything out – the process will not have been in full swing for 12 months and the figures aren’t even being collected at the moment

      Reports are from rightsholders and warnings are from ISPs, all private companies. There is no reason why examining trackers couldn’t start tomorrow, and in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if some publishers were already at it.

      Stage 1 is not that different from current arrangements

      It allows rightsholders to reliably and regularly identify pirates. It also requires warnings to be sent out. Those are both big differences to my mind.

      Stage 2 brings in the ‘removal of service’ part (which everyone is getting pissed off by) to replace a proper (and expensive) legal process.

      You would prefer to be taken to court and sued for copyright infringement, assuming, as ever, that disconnections actually start happening? Perhaps if whether an IP had connected to a tracker was a subjective decision I would be keener on the idea of going to court. It’s not like tribunals are somehow unjust anyway: as I mentioned above, the system works fine for inquests, employment tribunals, and planning appeals (and possibly more).

    • archonsod says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but in order to break the law you have to be distributing the material. Merely connecting to a tracker doesn’t prove that – most bit torrent clients allow you to turn off uploading, if I’m leeching without uploading anything then I’m not breaking the law.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Theory

      There is no mention in the Bill of ISPs cross-referencing complaints with “their own logs”. They simply compile CIRs made by different and report back on the aggregated CIR numbers for each user. There is no mention in the Bill of anyone being legally required to “scan public torrents”. The initial stage 1 code will set criteria using time and number of CIRs, but there is nothing saying that this is a “time buffer” as you claim. In fact it could be the exact opposite: someone might be labelled if they upload more than X files over a certain period (day/week./month). The time limit might refer to an expiration period.

      The difference between my “worst case scenario” (rapid reaction, hardly any warnings) and your “best case” (only targetting high volume uploaders , lots of warning), is that I am not claiming mine is written into the details of the Bill, just that the Bill makes it possible for Mandleson (or his Tory equivalent) et al, to write rules like this. Also you are simply wrong to claim that you know that your “best case scenario” is how the rules will operate as there is nothing in the Bill that says this.

      Re. a whole year of “repeated warnings followed by litigation”. When I said ‘the figures are not being collected yet’ I am referring to the OFCOM monitoring of whether stage 1 is having an impact, not the monitoring of IP/uploading by copyright holders (which they have already been doing for years). The ‘analysis’ of the impact of stage 1 using quarterly figures for the 12 months following the passing of the Bill is suspect imo – a fig leaf to justify stage 2 (as they either won’t see any impact and/or the methodology of their numbers and what they represent will be meaningless). I am willing o be pursuaded that OFCOM have a rigourous system in place and their figures will be meaningful but the fact that they are not collecting these already makes me initially very doubtful.

      As for how fast stage 1 will be up and running: It can’t start running until OFCOM have drawn up the “initial obligations code”. After this the ISPs need to react to this code – allocating people responsible, put in place suitable IT systems and train everyone up about the legal aspects.

      Realistically the first six months following the Bill being passed will be spent with OFCOM drawing up and publishing their code, the ISPs setting up their IT systems and training people. Next CIRs will start coming in and warning emails (letters?) sent out. Next aggregate data will start going back to copyright holders who will start choosing some of these to target with court ordered disclosure and prosecutions. The media and internet users will be watching to see how many trials there are and if they are successful … which takes us into the tail end of the first 12 months.

      It isn’t plausibe to claim that the 12 month point where the stage 2 “technical measures” can be brought in will have seen a whole year of the system up and running, nor that figures about how much illegal downloading is going on (figures which are not even being collected yet and so which do not have any robust “baseline” nor a proven methodology) are going to show that stage 2 is ‘required’ because stage 1 ‘is not working’. This is nonsense.

      It is also nonsense to pretend that the Bill sets out details of time-based or download-based thresholds or number of warnings: it simply gives various people powers to draw up codes and rules and leave it very open as to what these will be. Experience shows that when you leave the door open like this, organisations will often write rules and procedures in a way that produces the results that benefits their body / careers (eg hits their ‘targets’, gives them more power, makes their jobs easier etc.).

      It doesn’t take a massive cynic to think that the copyright holders have a cear interest in stage 1 “failing” and for the “stage 2 technical measures” to come in, because this saves them the expense of taking people to court – all they have to do if and when stage 2 comes in is fire off vast numbers of CIRs at the ISPs and thereby shift the whole burden of monitoring and chasing copyright infringement onto ISPs, network managers, householders, wi-fi providers and so forth.

    • Theory says:

      archonsod, conside yourself corrected. :)

      Teejay, I don’t know what your first two paras are about. No, the bill does not spell those things out: they are both left to the code of practice that is to be drawn up by OfCom. Both of our scenarios are speculative, though as you can see from the quotes I drew out, some elements from mine are recommended (e.g. “including in particular the time within which the reports are made”). For the record, my idea of the best case scenario is stage one having an impact and no technical measures of any kind being required.

      I can’t really argue with your feelings that OfCom will make a hash of their job. I don’t share them, and that’s that. I can say that the 12 months doesn’t start until the code has been drawn up, however – 9(2). After that it’s straight into the action, so to speak.

      I don’t see how any significant amount of training or systems set-up would be required for ISP employees to send letters or respond to reports. You’re really grasping at straws with that argument.

      Experience shows that when you leave the door open like this, organisations will often write rules and procedures in a way that produces the results that benefits their body / careers (eg hits their ‘targets’, gives them more power, makes their jobs easier etc.).

      Who has a vested interest in cutting off people’s internet connections? Certainly not OfCom. The order to impose technical measures still has to be approved by Parliament, remember – 11(5).

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Theory

      Yes, both our scenarios are speculative because the details of: ~ the number of warnings that will be given ~ the number of files needed to make a suspect reach the ‘persistent offender threshold’ ~ the minimum or maximum length of time over which the alleged offences happen ~ the kind of “proof” needed, ~etc are all left unstated … to be drawn up by OFCOM at a later date. You have made several claims on this thread which you didnn’t indicate were just speculation – thank you for finally admitting that we simply don’t know (yet parliament is being asked to sign the powers off anyway).

      I don’t have a massive problem with the *first* stage which seems to simply involve copyrights holders making CIRs, ISPs informing customers and informing copyright holders about aggregates. Any further action against customers is taken via the courts by the copyright holders. I haven’t seen many people objecting to this part of the Bill.

      I realise now that I was misled by your flowchart which indicates the minumum of 12 months for the first stage srrangements starts immediately when the Bill receives Royal Assent – you are right that it actually starts when an initial stage 1 code of practise is in place and the legal and technical provisions could therefore be put in place before the code kicks in. There are all sorts of legal implications and requirements that will need to be met (as mentioned in the Bill and the explanatory notes) not just passing on emails – all systems will have to comply with the new code which hasn’t even been written yet, so of course it can’t be started ‘tommorrow’. I would hope that OFCOM “measurements” of ‘illegal downloading’ are credible and independent and their design and sourcing is not hijacked by interested parties. Again parliament is being asked to sign off approval for something without any details.

      As for “vested interests” – copyright holders have a natural interest in shifting their current ‘enforcement’ burden away from their current requirement of collecting information and taking people to court and transfering it over towards the ISPs. OFCOM itself will have an interest in meeting it’s targets – which have been set out as ‘reducing illegal downloading’. It is also tasked with facilitating an industry-led ‘code of practise’. OFCOM will want to show results, possible at low cost, possibly increasing it’s own powers etc. There have been a vast number of studies of bureaucracies and regulatory agencies that show that they do have inherent institutional “interests” and if left to their own devices will often unwittingly pursue these even where they are against the public interest.

      The biggest problems people are having are with the stage 2 technical measures. Why is the government seeking these powers now if they will have to come back for them anyway? I am contending that they are putting them in now because they have every intention of moving to stage 2.

      What possible objection would you have to removing the stage 2 powers from this Bill and insisting that the government just introduce stage 1 for now? Once it has shown that the initial stage 1 code of practice is in place and publically acceptable, that it is not throwing up false positives or other objectionable outcomes – and once OFCOM figures have shown that extra powers/technical measures are actually needed – at that point parliament can decide to give it further powers for stage 2.

      What possible argument is there for ripping up various principles of British law/justice at this stage way before all the details have been written? Surely we need to see enough details and evidence that the proposals are workable, fair and useful before signing off the new stage 2 technical powers that everyone is objecting to? Therefore stage 1 only – get rid of stage 2 and come back when stage 1 is in place and we can see it operating, and we can see the details of a proposed stage 2.

  39. Langman says:

    Talking about Channel 5, I wish they returned to the way they were in the late-90s. Some of their porn ‘documentaries’ back then were alarmingly close to the bone. Also, programs about strip clubs featuring full frontal nudity at 8:30PM? Yes please!!

    Much more entertaining than Ian Wright.

    • Bhazor says:

      I was close to the bone too at the time. I miss the time when it took effort to see nude ladies. Like watching Eurotrash with headphones an inch from the screen while my parents were in the next room, using a vcr to record Channel 5 whilst *watching* Four, spending half an hour waving my aerial around to get a good enough reception that I could actually make out the nipples.

      Sigh… the Internet takes all the fun out of pornography.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @bhazor in the midst of all this political arguing, I appreciate someone taking the sensible stand that pornography is too easy. Too many of this generation will be lost to porn fatigue before their 30s. I remember the good old days of finding porn stashed in the woods, trying to decipher what was naked lady flesh through the mildew and decay was half the fun.

    • Nick says:

      Slug or bush, you decide.

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      Ah, Eurotrash. Early teenage days, where have you gone?

    • Clovis says:

      @Tom: lulz, my first experience with porn was a mag found in the woods. Some moron told on us though. Then I had to have an uncomfortable conversation with my parents. Then I was just stuck with the bra sections of catalogues again.

  40. Swanky says:

    Done. Thanks for the heads-up. The government seems quite happy to chip away at our freedom but it surprises me that we accept these curbs so willingly. And to say its fine because it doesn’t affect you is no kind of argument in my book.

  41. kyrieee says:

    I think any legislation that gives authorities the right to deny someone the use of communication tools is bullshit.

  42. jti says:

    Oh dear, that is bad. I hope you guys can make them see sense.

  43. Po0py says:

    The problem is that the DEBill is so vague. It leaves the doors open for goal-post shifting after the bill is made law. It’s really just a template to fiddle with after all is said and done. That is what is horrifying. I’ve already emailed my local MP a week ago about it asking for him to oppose it and at the very least demand a proper debate on it in the house of commons. No response yet. I think it is important to try to re-word the template letter and personalize it. Don’t allow it to come across as a template letter.

    I really don’t think people understand quite how this bill can change the face of the internet and how we use it. Example: Say someone logs on to an open wifi spot at a coffee shop of local library and downloads some copyrighted mp3′s on the sly. That coffee shop or library could then be sued by bullish law firms acting on behalf of the copyright owners. Basically, if this bill is passed, you could see an end to open wifi in all these small business. At least all but the brave. Many coffee shops, landlords, hotels, etc offer free wifi as a way to draw in customers so this Bill could even potentially hurt our economy.

    Piracy is wrong. But like DRM, there is a right way to deal with it and a wrong way. This is yet another very wrong way. You could potentially call it a big old dose of DRM on our internet. It is the same thing; punishing innocent people and businesses because the British Phonographic Industry currently gets more of Peter Mandleson’s attention than British tax payers.

  44. LionsPhil says:

    Wow, form letters. Compelling argument, that.

    “Someone, give me a postcode to use!”

    Yeah, you can now see why this is going to be taken totally seriously. Maybe you should start a Facebook group too? Is petitionsonline still going?

    • Collic says:

      You’re absolutely right. Smug cynicism is a much better approach. The only way to assure nothing gets done is to do nothing.

    • Bhazor says:

      Form letters are just spam. Emails can be deleted. Seriously, if I was an MP I’d just assume it was one guy sending in a dozen emails from different accounts and dismiss the lot.

      If you want to be noticed and remembered send a hand written letter writtened all by yourself. You know, put some effort into it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The problem is, the opponents to this bill are pirates, so that “all e-mail letters are spam” assumption probably holds. Pirates have got this mental state that makes them think that that’s actually a good idea—they’ll rewrite their sense of ethics so that it’s right to them that they should push MPs with every ounce of force they can muster, because they’re just fighting back against the UNFAIR media companies, right? Ask for more postcodes! Sign up for more webmail addresses!

      I’d be seriously worried about the fitness of any MP who *didn’t * outright disregard all Internet chest-beating when trying to gauge the opinion of his constitutents.

    • drewski says:

      I’m not a pirate, and I oppose this bill.

      @ Bhazor – maybe the fact you think constituents should be ignored is a pretty good reason you’re not an MP. Believe me, MPs take notice of EVERYTHING that comes into their office (or their staff do), even if it’s just aggregate numbers of correspondance about a particular issue. Voters actually bothering to contact their MP is suprisingly rare given the numbers of voters, so MPs tend to treat it as serious. They even have a little scale which caluculates the “value” of different types of correspondance.

  45. Collic says:

    Done. Thanks for posting this RPS. I sent an email to you about this an age ago, it’s good to see something like this being set up. It’s a lot harder to ignore than the typical internet petitions that nobody reads. I just hope it does some good.

  46. pedant says:

    Best of luck to you guys!

    As someone who took part in trying to stop similar and worse things in Sweden I wish you the best of luck. You will need it.

    As for the people saying you have nothing to worry about if you haven’t done anything wrong, have you considered that a state that accidentally shoots people in the head seven times (with no one accountable!), doesn’t realize soldiers in Afghanistan might need helicopters/kit and are behind both the Royal Mail and NHS might not be the best people to administer this in a safe and sound way?

    Whatever pol you hate the most, imagine what they would use this legislation for and consider adding? Once you say it’s fine turning off the Internet for one thing, why not another?

  47. Po0py says:

    Upon reading a lot of the posts in this comment thread I’ve gotten quite a bit suspicious about certain posters. Suddenly there is an influx of people passionately defending the bill with only a few post counts to their name.

    You can post all the arguments you want for the bill to go through, but all that is being asked for here is a debate in the fucking house of commons. A simple right that we all expect in a democracy. If you don’t like people campaigning for democracy and due process the fuck off. And don’t fucking post on this site again.

    Cunts.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ohmygod, people disagreeing with me! They must be:
      1) Grassrooters being drawn here who have no other interest in the site!
      2) Against DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM.
      3) Told to shut up and never express their dissenting opinion again!
      4) [Ad-hominems]

      Ah, politics on the Internet.

    • Collic says:

      If you have nothing positive to contribute, don’t contribute and crawl back under your bridge.

    • Collic says:

      (that comment was directed at LionsPhil, not Poopy)

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Gah! Collic, The people who are intelligently arguing that bill isn’t so bad have as much right to be here and discuss it as anyone. We can disagree and debate without accusations of trolling surely? Look at Theory’s discussion of the point. That is how intelligent debate is done.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      Sorry, that should read p0opy not Collic, apologies

    • Collic says:

      I agree, but the accusation of trolling is directed at him for a reason. None of his posts constitute an intelligent argument about the bill, just cynical apathy and sneering.

    • Collic says:

      oops sorry Mr Bedlam, i missed the follow up post there. I stand by my point though. I can’t stand people who just pour scorn on these sorts of activities. Yes there are other ways to make your voice heard, but discouraging people from doing anything at all by crapping all over something positive really annoys me.

    • Po0py says:

      I’m simply responding to people who represent certain lobby groups trying to influence opinion by spamming on blogs and websites they previously never have posted on. If this is what they are, then they are simply not welcome here on RPS. I don’t think that is in any way a ridiculous thing to say. I suspect many RPS readers feel this way.

      I’m simply repeating what I’ve said earlier. All that is being asked for here is a proper debate in the House of Commons. Is it not outrageous that such a huge and controversial Bill can be passed on the sly without debate? If you disagree then I’m sure you can write to your MP and tell him your opinion. But for me, the general consensus seems to be that this Bill is poor and needs to be questioned in a proper debate.

      Democracy. It’s important.

    • Bhazor says:

      So you want a debate but anyone who debates is a cunt?

    • Collic says:

      This isn’t the house of commons.

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @po0py, I completely agree with your standpoint. I’m just saying that open hostility isn’t the best way to have a debate. If people are posting that usually don’t then there’s an equal possibility that they are just lurkers who’ve found they want to talk about this, innocent until proven guilty is sort of the point of protesting against this bill, isn’t it?

    • Tom OBedlam says:

      @collic, of course it isn’t but that’s no reason we shouldn’t be civil.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I forgive you both for your poorly-aimed rage and continual ad-hominem attacks. You’re merely helping demonstrate my point that Internet “discussion” of politics is made of knee-jerk bawling and should be ignored by anyone in power, after all.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do believe this site is about fine computervideogames for my IBM Compatable Personal Computer. I shall go and find one of the posts which is actually on topic.

    • Po0py says:

      Bhazor says:
      “So you want a debate but anyone who debates is a cunt?”

      No. There is plenty of really intelligent debate on this site, and long may it continue. It’s people who represent lobby groups trying to influence debate that I was aiming it. You only need to look at the current state of American politics to see how big business lobbyists run that country. They are currently trying to pass a perfectly reasonable health-care bill that would help millions of Americans get decent, affordable health-care but are getting nowhere fast because of lobbyists representing insurance firms and the like. This is what I detest with a passion. And it is getting more and more commonplace here in the UK. It is disgusting. It hurts democracy. It is simply not in the best interests of UK citizens.

    • Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

      @ P00py

      You might not like lobbyists – but instantly assuming that somebody is a lobbyist because they have a low post count and a different opinion to you is somewhat judgemental. Bringing post count into a discussion is really quite poor form.

      You could at least try and engage them with some sort of level of civil debate before throwing around accusations and thinly veiled insults.

      As much as I disagree with some of what Lions_Phil has posted (not all opponents to the Bill are pirates for a start) that doesn’t mean I’m going to make sweeping assumptions about his motivations.

    • cliffski says:

      This happens on slashdot a lot. If 90% of people think one way, anyone who disagrees has a lot of abuse thrown at them and is presumed to be ‘a corporate shill’.
      It’s sad.
      Not everyone agrees on everything. That doesn’t make the other people ‘cunts’

    • Po0py says:

      Firstly, I never made any assumptions about anybody in particular. It’s just that the first time in a long while this site posts something with a political bent you see an influx of people with low post counts. Yes, it could be entirely innocent but I stated that if, yes, IF you are one of those paid posters then your posts are not welcome. People get angry at this type of manipulation because it happens all the time. I can accept that my language could have been better.

  48. the wiseass says:

    I’m not from the UK so I can’t write a letter. But I’ve been closely following the proceedings this bill and you can do the same under the following link:

    http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/digitaleconomy.html

  49. Wednesday says:

    I really don’t mean to be a dick here, but that letter could do with rewriting.

    I’m going to send it off anyway.

  50. Mort says:

    I hate these ‘vote for my cause!’ things, as much as I hate them facebook groups, sad to see it here.

    Nonetheless, much as I dont fire letters to my MP on request, I’ll at least go get some actual facts and make my own decision.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, pesky democracy with its causes and voting. Not like Feudalism? Good old days, eh? These steamships are ruining everything.

    • Mort says:

      That’s not what I’m saying. And you probably know it.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yeah pesky democracy and its being utterly paralyzed by pressure groups who don’t bother READING THE FUCKING BILL AND ACTUALLY FINDING OUT THE FACTS BEFORE SPAMMING THEIR MP WITH A DAMN FORM LETTER!!!

      Seriously Jim, not cool.

    • Wednesday says:

      Have you never opposed a law without reading the Bill? I’ve never read section 28, but I reckon I’ve got a fair stab at saying its abhorent.

      Surely “the facts” are right there at the top of the page. This is what journalism does, or is supposed to do, presents facts in a clear and concise manner to aid the public can make decisions.

      Just to be clear, you’ll be reading the bill right? The whole thing?
      http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldbills/001/10001.i-ii.html

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      @Bhazor: You realise that what people are calling for here is the bill be properly debated in Parliament, right? Because it seems to me you are getting angry about something that you actually agree with.

    • Bhazor says:

      Mort says

      “Nonetheless, much as I dont fire letters to my MP on request, I’ll at least go get some actual facts and make my own decision.”

      Your response is to say he opposes democracy. Am I alone in thinking that’s not exactly fair on your part?

      Yes I’d like to see this discussed in the Houses but really you’re muddying the waters relying on third hand accounts that are now outdated due to the various amendments that have been made to it each time it’s been discussed by the committees. The Houses may be the ones you see on TV but its the committees which house the people who know what they’re talking about. Ever listened to Today in Parliment,? 90% of the time in the Houses is just back biting, one upmanship and character assassination. Three aspects which are not entirely beneficial to discussion.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      You’re right, it’s probably not fair, I just get shirty when people seem to complain about being asked to give a damn.

    • Ol' Sam says:

      Democracy isn’t “utterly paralyzed by pressure groups”. That’s just as alarmist as those arguing that this Bill is part of some sort of sinister plot.

      The fact that people are willing sit in judgement over something without thoroughly researching the issue is a fact of modern politics (perhaps life?), and one shared by some MPs as well as voters. I would venture that few voters pore over the full text of a bill without forming an opinion, I doubt the general public ever has done.

      I think it’s admirable that you care about it so much though, few do. Expletives do nothing for your argument however. While I agree that the sight of so many people jumping on a bandwagon is riling, I think it’s a wagon that is heading in the right direction.

      You briefly mentioned lobbyists. As I’m sure you are aware there are lobby groups representing just about every interest. In fact the section of the bill behind this furore was originally proposed in response to one such group.

      What is of concern to me are any constraints placed on information that can be enshrined in, and enforced by law. I would rather the subject be debated more publicly and more thoroughly than it has been, since ultimately the passing of the bill would result in some form of legislative control over internet use. There can be no grey areas here, regardless of your opinion on intellectual property (or for that matter, the other “good” proposals). Amendments to the bill have been made just as hurriedly as the bill was proposed, the aim being to push it through before the general election.