Britishers, Unite For Internet Justice

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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