UK's Digital Economy Bill cleared to become law
The UK’s controversial Digital Economy Bill looks set to be pushed through as law this week, despite concerns over its impact on consumers and ability to cut piracy.
A second reading of the bill took place in Parliament yesterday, and the bill is tipped to be pushed through in the so-called “wash-up” process before Parliament breaks up next week to prepare for a general election on May 6.
The bill garnered grudging support from the Conservative party, the country’s main opposition party that is widely tipped to take power at the election.
However, current shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt hinted his party would make changes to the bill if it takes power, specifically a reversal of a clause that would give regulator Ofcom greater authority, The Guardian reports.
Hunt criticised the lack of parliamentary debate on the bill, but gave his blessing after conceding that action is necessary to cut-down on piracy.
“We do accept that action needs to be taken to ensure the internet is a functioning marketplace and that copyright infringers do not get away with their actions scot free,” Hunt told MPs during the debate.
Nearly 21,000 people have written to their MPs to demand further debate, Wired.com reports, citing an Open Rights Group spokesman, and lobby groups have issued a call to arms to consumers to seek more Parliamentary discussion via adverts in major newspapers, and on Google and Facebook.
The bill has been heavily criticised by major telecoms and Internet firms, who say an amendment to the original draft’s anti-piracy measures will do nothing to protect copyrighted material, and could even limit freedom of speech.