UK passes Digital Economy Bill; gives gov power to block file sharing sites

TorrentFreak reports that the UK government passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill, by a vote of 189-47. In an effort to crack down on digital piracy, the bill features a clause that allows 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.”

Many members of parliament were outraged that such sweeping legislation could be passed so quickly and carelessly. Graeme Lambert, the Pirate Party UK candidate for Bury North, said, 

"It was painfully obvious to anyone watching the broadcast from Parliament this evening that any MP that only turned up for the divisions and not the debate does not care about the views of their constituents, does not care about democracy and does not care about the future of Britain’s digital economy."

This is a huge blow to the file sharing movement in the UK, as this bill gives the government the ability to block traffic coming from any site deemed to be associating with file sharing services that host copyrighted material.

Finance secretary Stephen Simms, in defense of the clause, cites the £1 billion loss the digital arts industry suffers every year as reason enough to crack down on copyright infringement.

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nitroxhotshot said,
THIS WAS LABOURS PROPOSAL - LIB DEMS AND CONSERVATIVE WERE AGAINST THIS... THIS WILL ONLY GO AHEAD IF LABOUR IS RE-ELECTED.
The Conservatives backed it and the Lib Dems actually added some of the more draconian aspects to the bill (funnily enough, while publicly saying that they are against the bill). Politicians; sleezy, complete liars and for sale, every last one of them.

Oh, and it's already gone ahead, it's happened. Apparently the MPs cared sooo much that around 40 of them (out of ~300) actually turned up for the debate before they voted on it...

Dicks.

Edited by Uhyve, Apr 11 2010, 1:29am :

I may be incorrect here, but any website can be considered to have the ability to hold copyrighted content. My largest concern is for sites like youtube which has large amount of copyrighted content. Couldn't it be considered a site which allows for piracy?

I'm not saying their direct idea is to 'destroy youtube' or anything like that, i'm just saying that these laws are often used as a way to get progressively more strict.

In Australia, they're trying to implement internet filtering at the ISP level (and defaut when you get the governments rollout of broadband) which at first was covered in a 'child porn' blanket. As you know, you just have to say child porn and suddenly everyone screams 'do it' without reading. The sad part is this list blocks sites such as wiki leaks, torrent websites, all material which is anything but childporn.

We live in an age where companies and corporation not only are a large part of our daily lives, but where they are pushing their agenda through the government.

People all around the world seem to be becoming quite contented to live in their electric fenced surrounded eden.

If people want to pirate content then they will, whatever it takes. They are always 1 step ahead! It won't make a blind bit of difference. One site goes down another comes up etc

oh please the very nature of the internet is to be decentralized to make it more robust, all that will happen is proxy's will be used, services like ipreditor (VPN) and the websites them selves will change dns info and bypass the law for a little while till they get blocked and round and round the cycle we go. this law isnt going to change a fat lot.

sponex said,
oh please the very nature of the internet is to be decentralized to make it more robust, all that will happen is proxy's will be used, services like ipreditor (VPN) and the websites them selves will change dns info and bypass the law for a little while till they get blocked and round and round the cycle we go. this law isnt going to change a fat lot.

You have a good point actually. As far as I know, the bill doesn't make it illegial to access those sites, via other means, does it?

All you have to do, is use OpenVPN and tunnel yourself via another country! Even if accessing the blocked site IS illegial in the UK, the govn'ment coudn't look at the traffic flowing in the UK, as it's encrypted. Now, there are laws in place that says you have to decrypt traffic if the police ask you to (actually, that mite only apply to stored encrypted data), but unless you have a huge sign on your door that says "Illegial stuff! Come and get it!", I think you'll be fine

Now, I don't like copyright infringment. I think we should all buy our stuff. However I don't agree with being made guilty without a fair trial!

Imagine this: When signing up for a new ISP, there will be a check box that says "Have you ever been banned from using the Internet in the UK?"

Edited by jonnytabpni, Apr 9 2010, 8:44am :

Every student household, for the person who pays the bill on the internet connection, would tick the box... Yes, and add "but it was my housemate"

If ip's get banned for downloading illegal content, every university halls of residence in the UK will be banned from the internet, all anyone ever did in halls was download films and TV using the ever reliable and quick connection.

Mr Angry said,

Yes, that might be a credible stance were it not for the fact that TalkTalk already have provisions within their T&Cs which entitle them to disconnect their customers if they merely suspect them of copyright infringement.

Actually, I think that it is still very credible. Talktalk own the systems, and provide the service to you. IMO, it is their direct right, not the entertainment industry's, to disconnect customers. Also, it is in TalkTalk's interest to keep customers, and for this very reason, for once, I'm proud to be a TalkTalk (Opal) customer!

This bill is made up by people who are just simply ignorrant. It gives media companies a cheap, if not nearly free way of punishing people, making them guilty in the eyes of the law, without a fair trial.

jonnytabpni said,
Also, it is in TalkTalk's interest to keep customers

Nail firmly struck on head.

jonnytabpni said,
This bill is made up by people who are just simply ignorrant. It gives media companies a cheap, if not nearly free way of punishing people, making them guilty in the eyes of the law, without a fair trial.

The bill is also a fairer means of determining who should be disconected than TalkTalk's current "if we reasonably suspect" arrangement. Additionally, nobody will be "guilty in the eyes of the law" unless a rights holder takes them to court and wins. TalkTalk are pretending to defend their customers when in reality, as you have correctly pointed out, all they are interested in is keeping customers and not having to enforce their very own Terms and Conditions.

In fact, if it's the case that they are serious about not being prepared to disconnect their users then why dosn't Mr Heaney remove the appropriate sections from their terms and conditions as below?

our Use of the Services
6.1 You agree not to use the Services:
6.1.1 for business purposes or to sell on or supply the Services to anyone on a commercial basis;
6.1.2 for making calls, sending data, publishing, knowingly receiving, uploading or downloading any data or material which are or may be reasonably deemed to be a nuisance, a hoax, abusive, obscene, racist, defamatory, menacing, indecent (including to the Customer Services operators who deal with enquiries concerning the Service), in breach of confidence, in breach of any intellectual property right (including copyright) or which is otherwise objectionable or unlawful, or you allow others to do these things.

7.1 We may suspend immediately the provision of the Services to you until further notice without compensation if:
7.1.1 we reasonably suspect that you are in breach of these Conditions;

Ok, I do see your point, however, I'm still on talktalk's side on this. I am against copyright infringement, however I believe that this is a matter for the courts and not industry. I feel it is ok for Talktalk to have those terms as it's in a contract which you agreed to and, as I said above, they own/run the service, so the ball is in their court.

I just don't agree with the entertainment industry haveing a "free pass" to just knock people off the internet, without due process.

jonnytabpni said,
Ok, I do see your point, however, I'm still on talktalk's side on this. I am against copyright infringement, however I believe that this is a matter for the courts and not industry. I feel it is ok for Talktalk to have those terms as it's in a contract which you agreed to and, as I said above, they own/run the service, so the ball is in their court.

I just don't agree with the entertainment industry haveing a "free pass" to just knock people off the internet, without due process.

I know what you're saying but the "free pass" to knock people off the intenet is something which TalkTalk, and many other ISPs, already have in their contractual armory. The fact of the matter is that their unwillingness to enforce their own Terms and Conditions played a major part in the tactical legislative approach adopted by Mandelson and his ilk.

Effectively they (the ISPs) shot themselves in the foot.

No mention of Tom Watson breaking Labour's three line whip on the vote? Was a very ballsy (and welcome) move.

Duality said,
No mention of Tom Watson breaking Labour's three line whip on the vote? Was a very ballsy (and welcome) move.

+1

This was the first time in his career he's broken a whip, let alone a 3-line whip.

It's about time. Hopefully other governments will follow.

Not at all surprising to see the the Pirate Party attempt to twist the facts around and act like this new law will harm the "digital economy". Must have meant to say the "illegal digital economy".

I don't think the big deal is about stopping copyright infringement, it's the whole "guilty upon accusation" issue. If I get a hold of your IP address (assuming you're in the UK) and report you, there goes your net connection regardless of if you're guilty or not.

C_Guy said,
It's about time. Hopefully other governments will follow.

Not at all surprising to see the the Pirate Party attempt to twist the facts around and act like this new law will harm the "digital economy". Must have meant to say the "illegal digital economy".

So your OK with ...
Facebook - Copyrighted images - blocked!
Twitter - Copyrighted avatars - blocked!
Youtube - Blocked!

Just to mention a few

Edited by Kosh Naranek, Apr 8 2010, 7:32pm :

C_Guy said,
It's about time. Hopefully other governments will follow.

Not at all surprising to see the the Pirate Party attempt to twist the facts around and act like this new law will harm the "digital economy". Must have meant to say the "illegal digital economy".

No. The pirate party very much wishes to preserve the rights of copyright holders. The problem comes when that happens at the cost of Democracy. Don't make ignorant comments.

For the record I'm a Tory voter - so I'm hardly a PPUK shill for saying that

C_Guy said,
It's about time. Hopefully other governments will follow.

Not at all surprising to see the the Pirate Party attempt to twist the facts around and act like this new law will harm the "digital economy". Must have meant to say the "illegal digital economy".


If you don't believe the Pirate Party, what about the Open Rights Group, Coadec or Liberty? How about Google and TalkTalk?

I oppose the effort to crack down on file sharing as a PPUK member, yes, but equally I find the complete and utter lack of due process in the bill abhorrent.

Under the Digital Economy Act you are assumed guilty until you pay for an appeal to prove you didn't do something. Hardly fair, is it?

Kosh Naranek said,

So your OK with ...
Facebook - Copyrighted images - blocked!
Twitter - Copyrighted avatars - blocked!
Youtube - Blocked!

Just to mention a few

Anyone with a clue can put together the intent of this law is to block sites that sole purpose is copyright infringement. 99% of Facebook and Twitter may be rubbish but its legal rubbish.

C_Guy said,
It's about time. Hopefully other governments will follow.

Not at all surprising to see the the Pirate Party attempt to twist the facts around and act like this new law will harm the "digital economy". Must have meant to say the "illegal digital economy".

It isn't just about piracy, this is the start of a slippery slope of web censorship if its allowed to continue. Here in the UK, we're screwed at the moment.

That said, Rapidshare and other services will probably take off, not to mention the possibility of peer to peer services evolving and (stuff like DirectConnect) gaining popularity. Though Direct connect kinda sucks over the slow connections we have here.

Kosh Naranek said,

So your OK with ...
Facebook - Copyrighted images - blocked!
Twitter - Copyrighted avatars - blocked!
Youtube - Blocked!

Just to mention a few

Keep thinking thats what people are worried about.

So, because the person who pays for the connection will now wholly responsible, I guess [free] wifi access points will slowly die out?

After all, the likes of the BT-Openzone/Fon points could be used for illegal stuff therefore the account holder whose line it is using could get busted?

And the Gov wanted wifi all over the place too. Knobheads.

artnada said,
So, because the person who pays for the connection will now wholly responsible, I guess [free] wifi access points will slowly die out?

They will very rapidly die out

Well, this same nonsense is happening in the US too.. just that Comcast and Verizon (companies that provide the net) have control over it.. - FCC is against it. but they lost..

dimithrak said,
Well, this same nonsense is happening in the US too.. just that Comcast and Verizon (companies that provide the net) have control over it.. - FCC is against it. but they lost..

Another ill informed robot who thinks the FCC was internet freedom I see.

Osirus23 said,

Another ill informed robot who thinks the FCC was internet freedom I see.


The only person who is ill informed is you. Read up on what Net Neutrality means, then try to wrap your brain around the fact that the FCC is pushing for it, but the ISPs don't want it. This is one of those rare cases where the FCC is actually trying to do the right thing here.

Edited by roadwarrior, Apr 8 2010, 7:09pm :

NightSt@lk3r said,
I guess if i cant download games anymore ill have to go and rob them from the store at gun point.

Scotland Yard is already on their way to your house for posting that!

NightSt@lk3r said,
I guess if i cant download games anymore ill have to go and rob them from the store at gun point.

You could also get it out of the store by exchanging it for money. Ever consider that?

NightSt@lk3r said,

Where is the excitement in that?

Yes, but you have to work for your money - it's almost like a game. Grind for 8 hours a day and get £40 which is enough to obtain the game. It's like a mini-game loading screen before the real game!

The Teej said,

Yes, but you have to work for your money - it's almost like a game. Grind for 8 hours a day and get £40 which is enough to obtain the game. It's like a mini-game loading screen before the real game!


lol'ed

The Teej said,

Yes, but you have to work for your money - it's almost like a game. Grind for 8 hours a day and get £40 which is enough to obtain the game. It's like a mini-game loading screen before the real game!

I hate loading screen's, especially ones that take so long they have playable mini games.

barteh said,
This is bad news.
Labour have basically stiched up the next government party.

See my post above. "The next government party", whoever that might be, voted for this bill too. Get a clue.

Singh400 said,
******, my MP voted for it. Strongly ****ing worded email here I come! ****!

Same with my MP, an email from me to.

Jedimark said,
It was suported by the 3 main party leaders.

It was supported by Labour and Conservatives. Lib Dem opposed it, but Labour and Conservative rammed it through.

psilocybe said,
bang goes my labour vote

Jedimark is correct, what you just said shows clearly you have no clue on this subject matter.

The Bill was passed by the majority of all party Commons members, NOT just Labour members.

Labour should be lambasted for leaving this to the last minute and pushing this through in the washup, denying it the scrutiny and debate it deserved, but not for single-handedly passing the bill, because they didn't.

Edited by Ryster, Apr 8 2010, 7:48pm :

TCLN Ryster said,

Jedimark is correct, what you just said shows clearly you have no clue on this subject matter.

The Bill was passed by the majority of all party Commons members, NOT just Labour members.

Labour should be lambasted for leaving this to the last minute and pushing this through in the washup, denying it the scrutiny and debate it deserved, but not for single-handedly passing the bill, because they didn't.

Actually, it was mostly Labour MPs. The tories didn't even bother to vote.

Here's a list of who voted for/against the bill: http://www.theyworkforthebpi.com/

Edited by M2Ys4U, Apr 8 2010, 7:22pm :

DaveyMN said,

It was supported by Labour and Conservatives. Lib Dem opposed it, but Labour and Conservative rammed it through.

Lib Dems says they opposed it but they supported parts of it and even added a few of their own clauses to it.

Shocking really how it got through, but that's UK politics I guess.

I wont be voting Labour or Conservative anyway, so many worthwhile causes and they both waste millions on childish advertising attacks on each other.

Edited by Aergan, Apr 8 2010, 7:47pm :

DaveyMN said,

It was supported by Labour and Conservatives. Lib Dem opposed it, but Labour and Conservative rammed it through.

Lib. Dems. it is on the 6th of May then!

DaveyMN said,

It was supported by Labour and Conservatives. Lib Dem opposed it, but Labour and Conservative rammed it through.


Either way, Labour are evil.