Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Digital Economy

If you are reading this you will have accessed it via the Internet. You probably use the internet for many other things – research, keeping in touch, games, entertainment, etc. You may not be able to do that for much longer. At the present time the Digital Economy Bill is going through parliament and according to some “threatens to block web sites like Youtube and forcibly disconnect people from the internet without any due process. This bill hasn't been properly debated in the Commons, and has attracted 10,000 letters to MPs and Lords.” - says Tom Chance, who will be speaking at the Open Rights Group rally tonight, Wednesday 24th March 2010 opposite parliament.

I think the Internet is beginning to frighten a few people. There was Trafigura last year and more recently Nestlé.

Now, you might think this is a bunch of beardy radicals or revolutionaries. But, they are not alone. “Consumers and companies (including Google, Facebook and Internet Service Providers themselves) alike are up in arms about the Bill, which proposes that an Internet connection could be cut off if there is suspicion that it is being used for the downloading of copyrighted content. This is very disturbing:" read why and how it could affect you.

That’s not all. The British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute for Information Technology, also recognise the potential pitfalls in the bill and are calling for more time to scrutinise and debate the consequences.

Recent argument, comment and amendments to and around the Bill have included proposals that could radically affect the internet in ways that are difficult to predict. The Institute is concerned that hasty decisions could increase digital exclusion and harm those most in need of and most positively affected by internet access and capability.
The potential onerous burdens placed on many small companies, schools and libraries may reduce access and availability to many of the vulnerable members of society who may well derive the greatest benefit. Recent comments from Peers have also highlighted the intense lobbying by interest groups around this issue. The Institute is concerned that these interest groups may be focussed on a narrow front, so wider societal issues may not be properly accounted for.
The Institute is therefore calling for wider public debate and time for this Bill, and would have grave reservations about any inclusion of this Bill in a Parliamentary ‘wash up’.
Note: as reported in March 2007, this site is banned in China. Click on the new flag gizmo in the side bar [it’s been a bit temperamental lately] and scroll through the countries where visitors to this site come from, it’s not there. The Guardian has a world map of censhorship by subject.

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