Dear Meg Hillier,
As a constituent whose career and majority of personal communications are conducted across the internet, I’m very worried that the Government is planning to rush the Digital Economy Bill into law without a full Parliamentary debate.
The Bill contains measures that favour the protection of commercial interests at the expense of an individual citizen’s rights – specifically measures that allow copyright holders to issue requests to limit or even terminate the internet connections of private individuals based only on the belief of the copyright holder that the individual has infringed their copyright. In effect, this creates a situation outside the bounds of a fair and just society where a person can be punished by the withdrawal of a service that the UN is proposing be considered a basic human right.
In the digital age it’s only fair that copyright holders have greater recourse when their rights are infringed – but the measures in the Bill are a step too far. Millions of UK citizens depend on the internet for the ability to conduct their daily lives, their jobs, and for access to essential services. Restricting or withdrawing access to internet services is a disproportionate response, especially without the safeguard of a fair legal process.
Whereas a rights holder can impose penalties on an individual without the burden of proof and with almost no impediment of cost, the only recourse for an individual so restricted is through the courts – a massive, and clearly asymmetrical burden. The EU has adopted the position that any punitive measures affecting internet access by member states “must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens”. In particular, it the EU requires that citizens are entitled to a “fair and impartial procedure” before any measures can be taken to limit their internet access.
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. As a life-long labour supporter whose career would be ended without internet access, I see no way that I can continute to vote Labour if the Bill passes unaltered.