<flame on> I can't write anything better than has already been written or said by people like Techcrunch or Cory Doctorow about the Digital Economy Bill.
Rather than analyse the immense ignorance, stupidity and blatant special lobbying by Geffen and Murdoch and their empires that is embedded in this shocking piece of legislation, I'd like to look forward and see what the bill means to those who use the internet.
( I have been saved from having to write about clause 43 on orphan rights for photographs and copyright items as it was, thankfully, withdrawn. I can at least claim to have written to 3 MPs and signed 4 online petitions to help in a tiny way to do that. Sadly, that small win does not change the core of this bill, which is still just plain wrong.)
1 – there will be a huge rise in technical features designed to evade it. My advice is to buy or invest in things like PGP, Tor Network, obfuscation and concealment techniques
2 – there will be a massive test case within 12 months of the UK Government blocking access to the first websites. I just hope that they chose to block Facebook, or Wikileaks, or something that will create a huge public row.
3 – the lasting legacy of Mandleson will be a vastly heightened level of scrutiny by all legislation by the digerati. This one got past us, and it hurts and we are not going to let it happen again.
4 – British Parliamentary Democracy has been shown up to be ill informed, lazy, driven by its own need for power, and actively contemptuous of the reasoned concerns of the electorate. That, coming on top of the crisis of 'MP for hire' and expenses scandals will lead to pressure for major reform that will be the major force acting on the next government. Frankly, we expected better of you and you let us down badly.
(as an aside, I was told by a Conservative insider that the Tory party made a decision to support #debill having been told that Mandelson would prepare press releases saying 'Tories vote against 6 million jobs in Britain by objecting to the Digital Economy Bill”. One week before an election, it seems that an entire party lost its common sense and nerve because it could not explain why #debill was actually going to cost Britain money in the long term)
5 – there will be a deep distrust of any Digital Britain initiatives – not least because the putrid influence of Murdoch (check out the committee members who wrote the piece of crap that was the Digital Britain report through google) and other 'old media owners' on the initial report. This is a shame, as there are a few good things in the Digital Britain report that are swamped by the obvious lobbying
6 – Britain will lag further and further behind the countries that have understood that deregulation is what is needed, together with rolling out connectivity as a commodity. Look to Korea, Singapore, USA, Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand for the future, because it sure as heck cannot happen here now.
7 – many UK entrepreneurs will not open new digital companies in the UK. They might want to, but when it comes to legal due diligence ahead of fund raising, their lawyers will write them a 200 page report on why they cannot risk allowing anyone to connect, upload, comment, download, post, cross link, scrape, or identify anyone on their new service.
8 – In 5 year's time, clever economists will publish data showing how this bill crippled Britain, crippled the economy and did nothing but make a lot of lawyers rich. It will have pushed money into 'old media', propping it up on its death bed and further delaying the vital changes that media needed to make. It will have enriched Disney, Murdoch, Universal, SONY, and Geffen, none of who do a damn thing for the UK economy overall (they take more than they give, net), and none of whom give a crap about enabling UK consumers (other than to rake money out of their pockets for obselete forms of distribution and marketing).
9 – finally, it will make us all afraid of the consequences of digital activity. That is what our current (Labour) government has majored in: creating a culture of fear. That will be the most toxic legacy of all.
The digital ANTI-economy bill, perhaps?
Anyway, it secures wealth for lawyers and jobs for politicians in future, which is the point of law, now, I am told…
Sorry, I don't find it at all comforting that the Tories only supported the bill because Mandelson was prepared to make hay out of their refusal. It's very clear they were behind this bill as much as Labour. They both after all have the same paymasters.
We must vote for neither Labour or Conservative to get out of this mess!
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