My policies: The Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act will:
‣ disconnect innocent people on allegation of file sharing
‣ impose collective punishment on all their family members
‣ disproportionately harm the poor
‣ destroy free public wifi

The other parties either support the DEA, or don’t care much about it. The only party that cares is the Pirate Party; we exist specifically to fight this sort of infringement of our human rights.

The Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA) was passed by the Labour government shortly before the general election. It contains a number of provisions, but the most controversial is the provision to disconnect users from the internet, known as graduated response or 3 strikes.

This is something the record companies are pushing worldwide, and they’ve already got it implemented in law in France (the HADOPI law).

The disconnection provisions of the Digital Economy Act are due to come into force next year.

They will work like this: the record companies monitor people’s usage of P2P file sharing networks to see if they are illegally downloading music. If they are, the record company notifies the internet subscriber’s ISP. When a subscriber has had three notifications against them, their internet access is cut off, hence the name “3 strikes”.

This law strikes at the heart of civil liberties, because:

  • you won’t get a fair trial, or indeed any trial at all. The record companies will be able to disconnect you merely on their accusation that you’ve been file sharing. These accusations might not be very accurate: in the past, they’ve accused dead people and people without internet connections of illegal file sharing.
  • it won’t just be the file sharer who is disconnected, it’ll be everyone who shares their internet connection. This is collective punishment, and if it was done in wartime, would be a war crime.

The DEA will have other bad effects:

  • the DEA will probably destroy free public wifi in libraries, pubs and cafés, according to Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University.
  • the disconnection provisions make it harder for two houseeholds to share an internet connection to save money. This will disproportionately hurt the least well off and acts counter to the government’s professed goal of digital inclusion.

The irony is that even though lots of P2P file sharing is happening, the music industry isn’t suffering. According to the Performing Rights Society, industry revenue increased 5% in 2009. And musicians — the people copyright law is supposed to protect — have been getting a larger share of music industry revenue in recent years, with the record companies getting a smaller share.

It is no doubt this last point that makes the record companies unhappy. So these dinosaurs plan to neuter the internet to save their failed business model, and politicians have stupidly fallen for their sob story about how the music industry is failing, even though the facts show different.

The Other Parties

How do the other parties fare on the Digital Economy Act?

  • Labour passed the Act, rushing it through just before the general election.
  • the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition have said they will keep the Act. In fact, their minister, Jeremy Hunt, says it doesn’t go far enough.
  • of the 7 Scottish Nationalist MPs, 1 voted for the Act, and the other 6 couldn’t be bothered to turn up to vote. So don’t expect the SNP to oppose the DEA. The SNP say they want an independent Scotland, but their behaviour shows that they really want Scotland to be dependent on, and subservient to, foreign business interests.
  • although the other parties have a woeful record on the DEA, credit must be given where it’s due. Labour MP Tom Watson, and Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert have opposed this iniquitous law.

The DEA and Edinburgh council

Some of you at this point may be thinking, “yes, I agree with all this, but Edinburgh council doesn’t have the power to overturn the DEA”. That’s right, but consider that politicians care very much about election results — if I do well, and if the Pirate Party do well in subsequent elections, the other parties will take notice and bend their policies accordingly.

One further point: don’t forget that this is an STV election, and you can (in fact, should) express more than one preference. If you give your 1st preference to me, and I don’t win, your vote gets counted for your second preference (and third preference, etc), so voting for me isn’t a wasted vote, as you can re-use your vote to your other preferences.

2 Responses to My policies: The Digital Economy Act

  1. Pingback: Balls talks bollocks on housing | Phil Hunt for Liberton/Gilmerton

  2. Pingback: The Jilted Generation and the Pirate Party | Phil Hunt for Liberton/Gilmerton

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