Democracy Inaction: UK’s DEB Passes

By Jim Rossignol on April 8th, 2010 at 11:45 am.


The bill was opposed by the Liberal Democrats and some Labour MPs, but it has essentially been forced through by Labour and the Conservatives in around two hours of the final reading. Although Clause 18 – which gave the government extensive powers to block sites across the net – has been removed, it has been replaced with powers for the secretary of state for business to block “a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright”. That means an unelected peer, Lord Peter Mandelson, now gets final say over content on the internet, albeit mediated by the courts. Forty-two other clauses were considered in just five minutes.

If you are British, please make sure you are registered to vote in the upcoming general election. As James Graham points out in the Guardian today, only a vote for the Liberal Democrats will do anything to fix the broken political system that allowed this to happen in the first place.

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379 Comments »

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  1. SpakAttack says:

    My fucktard MP voted for the bill.

    I warned him that I’d be voting for the opposition if it got through, so I’ll be voting for the candidate most likely to displace him, and hopefully good riddance.

  2. deuterium. says:

    I’m mad. Wrote to my MP informing him of this travesty and all I receive is a token “it’s important to us”.

    Then barely anybody turns up to vote on an issue affecting millions of internet users in the UK and the very core of our freedoms? Utter nonsense, now my options are to vote for a party I’m not entirely sure I trust to capably run the country or vote for either of the two behemoths responsible for perverting our democracy.

    I will most likely null vote unless something changes.

  3. Jacques says:

    @Mario Figueiredo,
    I’ve purchased limited edition books at full retail (as much as $300). I have no moral qualms in downloading a PDF version of the same book now that I’ve purchased it at such a premium price.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      So, just we get this straight: You don’t have any moral qualms in promoting and supporting the continued existence of criminals who make publicly available copyrighted material. Is this right?

      Or, you don’t actually agree with what they do? But if you don’t, why do you use their services? And if somehow you do live in that gray area where you feel it’s just swell to no agree with what they do and use their services at the same time, where exactly do you think that puts you in the human scale of social responsibility?

      You don’t actually need to reply to this. It’s meant more to give you some food for thought.

    • Jacques says:

      @Mario Figueiredo

      Of course I have moral qualms about supporting criminals making money off other people’s work, but what worries me more is that companies are so stuck in their backwards thinking that they can’t see that the world has evolved. If I buy a copy of a book/dvd/game/album it’d be nice if I had the rights to use that product across a variety of platforms without being stuck with some draconian DRM. The first company that realises this fact, and markets their product at a low price will make an absolute killing.

      I’m not going to try to defend piracy, because there’s no point, I think anyone sane can see why it’s wrong, but, and this is a real clincher, the entertainment industries need to be made to realise that they’re stuck in the past, and putting their customers in court isn’t going to solve any issue.

  4. Rath says:

    Oh good. Now I am utterly despondent over who to vote for. I didn’t think there was a single party or candidate worthy of my support before as none of them represent my views, but now I have to vote Lib Dem if I want even a half-arsed attempt at a single issue being rectified? Fucking great. I’m all for keeping the Tory scum as far from power as possible, but this country seriously needs a fourth party, and soon.

  5. Uncredited says:

    Fuck politics and fuck politicians.

    There’s no single party or politician in this country who is even remotely representative of me and mine, and I doubt there ever will be…. All they ever do is make ill-informed decisions that at best benefit one minority whilst screwing over another, and at worst just shit all over everyone for their own selfish gains. On any average day they just dick about like the shower of overpaid lying toff twats they are and squander our tax contributions on coke parties, third homes and duck ponds.

    As a nation, one moment we’re all up in arms that the evil politicians have oh-so-shockingly decided to bone us all again – either through sheer incompetence or pure malevolence – yet two moments later we’ve all completely forgotten about it and swiftly moved on to giggling about some Tory’s involvement with a gimp mask, a bowling ball and an under-age rent boy. Several moments later, we’ve all given up completely and are all back on Facebook poking our “friends” about what we ate for breakfast, cheering on some talentless moronic hacks on Pop Idol, or gawping at Jordan and Generic Retarded Chav Boy Toy #38’s train wreck sham of a relationship plastered all over the front of the nation’s most popular newspapers. That’s our Great British democracy for you right there. She is a beautiful beast, no?

    Look, I’m not saying I have a better alternative or have a batshit clue how to fix any of it, but I don’t have to like what I’m given either. Quite frankly, I JUST DON’T GIVE A TOSS ANY MORE. Let them sit there in their little castles and brazenly dictate their fickle edicts upon us all, I’ll simply shrug, slap on my headphones and get my FPS on.

    Escapism isn’t an answer, it’s a defence mechanism, and in this day and age it’s more brilliant and powerful than it has ever been at any other time in history. I feel like I’ve shoved my hand in the sand and discovered there’s a lesbian porn shaped candy store staffed by Jessica Alba and Kate Beckinsale under there.

    In all sincerity, life is too damn short and bizarre to worry about the many, many things you and I have absolutely no power to change. So fuck ‘em lads… who wants some TF2?

    • TeeJay says:

      However, you are either financially a net contributor (via tax) or a net recipient (via public services and benefits) and there will in fact be a difference between the parties for you personally (if you can manage to work it out).

      You may well have various choices curtailed depending on your specific lifestyle and interests.

      It might be that everyone else’s involvement in the political process keeps the major parties from veering to one extreme or another and/or keeps out more nasty extremists, but I’d argue that you should contribute to this as well – at least keep an eye open on what is happening, just in case.

  6. Rei Onryou says:

    My local MP is Paul Burstow (Lib Dem). I wrote an email to him. A lackey returned a one line email saying it would be read based on priority. He voted against the bill. Whether he would have anyway, or was just going along with his party’s position, or he was actually swayed by people, I don’t know. At least he voted sensibly.

    I’m fairly certain this is how the Galactic Empire began. Giving power to one person to make decisions, ignoring the democratic process. The next thing we know, Emperor Mandelson will issue Order 66 and wipe out the Jedi. Won’t somebody please think of the younglings!!!

  7. ArtyFishal says:

    News like this, the US’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and Ubisoft’s DRM are creating an atmosphere of increasing persecution on the internet. We have all become suspects instead of users and customers. Interestingly, this is not unique to the digital world. If anything the internet is playing catch-up. The author, Ellen Goodman, wrote an essay titled, “The Suspect Shopper” 29 years ago that I feel has become more poignant with time. Look it up for an interesting reflection on the current state of the net from a pre-net time.

  8. bitkari says:

    Bitkari will be voting on May 6.

    Cynicism achieves nothing.

  9. We Fly Spitfires says:

    UK politics is just a mess and I can’t really stand any of the parties. I like the Lib Dems the most but everyone knows they don’t have a chance of getting into power.

    • Wulf says:

      That might be true… but I still can’t–in good conscience–vote for either New Labour or the Tories.

      I feel really lost with this, I want to vote for the Greens, but they’ll never get anywhere, I may vote for them because there’s a slim chance they may end up in a favourable position with a hung parliament, I can’t vote for New Labour or the Tories, they’ve both been responsible for far too much incompetence and wrongdoing.

      So, yep… kind of lost. Might vote for Lib Dems… what a mess.

      What a mess this all is.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @Spitfires

      Actually, if Parliament is hung that most likely gives the Lib Dems their best chance at a say in government in a long while.

    • TeeJay says:

      Anyone who lives in the Brighton Pavillion, Norwich South or Lewisham Deptford seats should definitely vote Green.

      PS.

      An independent website http://www.voteforpolicy.org.uk allowed users to pick a pick their preferred political policies without knowing which political party they came from covering crime, democracy, economy, education, environment, Europe, NHS, immigration and welfare.

      The result after 62,000 votes was:

      1. Green Party 28%
      2. LibDem 18%
      3. Labour 17%
      4. Con 16%
      5. UKIP 11%
      6. BNP 10%

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @TeeJay

      Those results from voteforpolicies cannot be trusted in the slightest. For example, after I did two serious passes to see if my anti-Labour feelings would be reflected by the policies I chose (they weren’t), I then started to do a few muckabout surveys, trying to max out BNP, UKIP, and Greens.

    • Grape Flavor says:

      @We Fly Spitfires
      Ha, you think UK politics is a mess? Come across the pond into total hell. At least you have a system which is open to multiple parties. Try having to deal with our ideologically binary, plurality-takes-all system that splits the moderate vote, thus ensuring only the nutbags make it into the general election. Every stage of the thing is goddamn rigged and it will always be thus because if the Dems and Repubs can agree on ONE thing, it’s to maintain the strictly two-party institution at all costs.

      It always amuses me when people from countries with relatively sane political systems wring their hands about how broken THEIR politics are. No civilized nation on earth has to deal with an political system as broken, rigid and absolutist as the United States. So take a deep breath and count your blessings. :)

  10. Rick says:

    I wouldn’t vote Liberal Democrat if you gave me 5 billion quid and sovereignty of Gibraltar and Bermuda, regardless of whether or not they liked this bill, or the fact that both my MPs (being a student, I’m eligible to vote in two areas, but can only cast my vote in one of the two, not both) would have voted for it. There are more pressing issues in the world, where the Liberals still fall as flat on their face now as they did in 1922.

    Honestly, the last part of this blog post wasn’t needed. This is a video game blog, not a political one. Report political news relevant to the industry by all means, but please don’t presume to tell me how I should vote.

    • Grunt says:

      I agree, Rick. That crossed a line and I’m not happy to see it here.

      There are places for this kind of thing, Mr Rossignol..

    • TeeJay says:

      It’s their blog, they can do what they want. It’s not like it has somehow damaged you to read his personal opinion, nor is anyone else here prevented from expressing their disagreement.

    • Wulf says:

      I completely agree, Teej. In fact, I don’t like the insinuation that (to use a word I like) Jim has harangued anyone. He shared his opinion, something which is purely subjective, personal, and individual, and something that one can ignore at their own leisure (unless they’re really weak-willed).

      Though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were such a group of incredibly weak-willed people here, since there are a group of the sort which tend to jump on folks for opinions, opinions which are not facts or brainwashing, but just harmless opinions. If you don’t like it, ignore it, but don’t presume to tell RPS what they shouldn’t talk about. Their blog, their rules.

    • Grunt says:

      “If you don’t like it, ignore it…”

      Hypocrisy worthy of the most two-faced politician you care to name, Wulf. Or have you apologised to Cliffski for your [latest] outburst?

      Of course Jim is entitled to his opinions. I maintain that RPS, however, is not the forum for these types of opinions. The remit of RPS is PC gaming, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t pick up a copy of PC Gamer for the latest political commentary, so I don’t expect, or want, subjective political opinion on a gaming news site. Each writer has their own personal blogs where I’d be more than happy to read their political expressions – let’s keep the focus of RPS on the games.

  11. Mike Arthur says:

    The Lib Dem Lords were condemned by the potential parlimentary candidates, as you yourself posted.

    The Liberal Democrats had a proportionally higher turnout than any other opposing party. If the Conservatives had all turned up and voted against, this bill would not have gone through. The problem is the timing of pushing the bill through just after the election has been announced, people are having to choose between campaigning for the election and voting on this bill. Arguably, the Lib Dems could not have swayed it either way by voting and want to get a lot more seats in the next election.

    More importantly, the reason why Jim says to vote Lib Dem isn’t because they were against this but they want electoral reform (such as proportional representation) which would stop the party in power from being able to force through bills like this simply because they got a large majority over four years ago. That is a reason to vote for them, if nothing else.

  12. Mike Arthur says:

    The Lib Dem Lords were condemned by the potential parlimentary candidates, as you yourself posted.

    The Liberal Democrats had a proportionally higher turnout than any other opposing party. If the Conservatives had all turned up and voted against, this bill would not have gone through. The problem is the timing of pushing the bill through just after the election has been announced, people are having to choose between campaigning for the election and voting on this bill. Arguably, the Lib Dems could not have swayed it either way by voting and want to get a lot more seats in the next election.

    More importantly, the reason why Jim says to vote Lib Dem isn’t because they were against this but they want electoral reform (such as proportional representation) which would stop the party in power from being able to force through bills like this simply because they got a large majority over four years ago. That is a reason to vote for them, if nothing else.

  13. A-Scale says:

    Can someone give me the short version of this for a privacy/freedom conscious American? I read as many of the comments as I could stomach, but still feel rather ignorant about what this bill is for and what it does. Does this relate to the secret ACTA discussions?

  14. Soobe says:

    As an American I was shocked to learn that (and this is just what i heard) political advertising is completely different in the UK. Here in the US it’s all about corporate spending and donations from special interest groups to put ads on the TV, radio, etc.

    Is that correct?

    No matter, even though your financing systems are quite different, you get just as bad of results. It’s a no-win everywhere I guess.

  15. anonymous17 says:

    Unfortunately many laws within Britain suffer from this lack of accuracy, some argue it is part of the common law tradition but it is really just sloppy law making – mainly due to the confused multiple messages that MPs and civil servants hand the drafters.
    I have done some more looking into this and many websites seem to hold that the provisions come into a year after the bill is enforced – whether it returns for a final reading in the House of Lords seems to also have been confused.
    This is because it is the role of OFCOM to oversee the implementation of the new bill and the enforcement procedures – which are at least likely to take a year to get into place.
    However this is unfortunately vague and despite the bill mentioning OFCOM, the legal authority to shut down an individuals internet – provided infractions have been detected and reported three times – will exist two months after the bill is passed.
    This will probably mean that during the next year the internet populace will be unsure as to what the actual stance is until the government finishes setting up the oversight agencies and the ISPs attempt to start to identify net traffic. Meanwhile, whilst OFCOM will not have formally begun to the enforce the bill provisions, it could use them against anyone before the completed system is running.
    Like I said, lazy and sloppy.

    • TeeJay says:

      I don’t think this is correct. First OFCOM will draw up a code covering “stage 1″. Stage 1 will run for at least 12 months starting when the OFCOM code comes into effect. Stage 2 may come into effect after that. Stage 1 just involves copy-right holders making infringement reports to ISPs who will in turn inform users but enforcement action still has to go through the courts like it does now. Stage 2 is the part that brings in “technical measures” for cutting connections and ‘tribunals’ instead of using copyright laws via the courts.

  16. bill says:

    I have truly reached the point where I have no idea who to vote for. I’ve always felt voting was important, but right now I actively don’t want to vote for anyone.

    I don’t mean this in some form of teen-angst fueled rebellion, just as a slightly worn out and disenchanted person.

    On this bill, and many bills like it, the parties have become so close that there’s really little to choose between them. And I think the system actively works against the needs of many of the population. But I don’t see it ever changing much.
    While a lib-dem win might mean some changes in the lords, I don’t think it’d address (m)any of the main problems.

    PS/ Quick, everyone change to TalkTalk: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/apr/08/internet-piracy-bill

    • Yaksemash says:

      Bill – you’re not alone man. I and many of my friends feel exactly the same, we’re all interested in the subject but the state of UK politics is pretty dismal.

      The sad reality is that nothing we do on 6th May will effect real change for any of us. Red, blue, yellow, green, ultimately they are all apples fallen from the same tree. The entire system (the media included) encourages and actively promotes the wrong qualities in leadership, with little accountability or recourse available to the people who are affected by corruption and mismanagement.

      I for one will not be voting next month. A vote for any of the parties who stand even a remote chance of getting into a position of influence is really just a vote to re-elect the same personalities and ideas, something I am sick and tired of.

      But I agree with an earlier sentiment in this thread – why beat yourself up over things you have no power to change? There are plenty of other things in my life I actually have some control over, I’ll worry about those instead.

    • TeeJay says:

      You could just vote on the basis of what will make you and your friends / family / etc personally better of from a tax, benefits, services point of view. Who this is depends on your income, state of health, whether you have school-age kids, whether you drink cider, drive a car or whatever else adds the most to your household bills. It also depends on whether you can actually work out what each party is proposing and how far you believe what they are saying corresponds to what the will actually do it reality.

      As selfish as this sounds at least it is a bit easier to work out what will benefit you than making some grand and complex calculation about what will be better for 60 million other people, and if everyone correctly works out what they like/want then hopefully the politicians can just get on with working out how to achieve it, rather than ramming their preferences down peoples throats.

  17. ronpaul says:

    Orwell is coming, and i’m afraid we can’t escape.

    my advice: stop watching tele, stop reading papers, get your own opinions!!!

    if you must read, read history books, regardless of the era, we goign through the same shit every few decades anyways, cause people do not read about it ;-)

    Peace

  18. Phil says:

    Oh and by the way, i always vote for the candidate who seems least likely to get his (£500) deposit back (as long as they arn’t the fucking fascists). That, my freind, is called supporting democracy.

    You pretty much had me convinced until I looked at some of their websites.

    I’m scared now.

  19. mister_d says:

    Lib Dems? HA!

    I will vote Conservative, despite living in Manchester which is the biggest Labour cesspit in the country. They stand for things I believe in strongly; localism, getting rid of the worthless NHS desk jockeys, a less centralised Europe, tighter controls on immigration, maintaining the union, and a whole host of other issues. Of course, there are many areas where I disagree with them, but you can’t have it every which way.

    The Lib Dems and Labour are the same party at this point. The only difference is that the Lib Dems disagree with everyone who is not a Lib Dem, just because. Under the surface both parties are populist, very broadly socialist, and practise a horrible brand of faux-liberalism that believes equality laws and “rights” actually prevent discrimination (hint: they actually create it by way of positive discrimination against perceived majority advantages and by creating hierarchical systems of “rights”.)

    So, take your Lib Dem propaganda and…

  20. TM says:

    Has anyone actually looked at the content of the act? This act has a requirement for copyright owners to send the details of the infringing I.P to the I.S.P before anything will happen. This is the biggest pile of rubbish I have ever seen – what kind of private individual will have the resources to protect copyright in this manner? The only people that this benifits are the big industries who own the copyrights and can afford to track copyright infringers on the net. Thanks very much members of parliament for once again putting the big big businesses first and the common member of the electorate last.