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Entanet has invited guest blogger Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group (ORG) to give his views on the Digital Economy Bill (DEB). Here he explains why he belives the Bill is fundamentally flawed and advises how you can change it before it makes law. We welcome his comments and encourage you to add to the debate.

Jim Killock, Executive Director, ORG

Jim Killock, Executive Director, ORG

It’s time to stand up against the DEB

The Digital Economy Bill is bad. But exactly how bad, and for who, is only now being properly debated. Those following the Bill closely have known for some time that unacceptable shortcuts are being proposed to detect people accused of illicit file sharing.

Many of you will also be very clear in your own mind that it’s not possible in most cases to equate a customer’s IP address with an individual who may have infringed, yet this is exactly the approach the Digital Economy Bill tries to take. The result is that current government plans will target anyone with a computer with more than one user, or a network.

Beyond households it will, as a result, also impose substantial costs on hotels, restaurants, cafes and eateries who offer free Internet access to their customers – costs which are likely to severely disrupt their business. The Federation of Small Businesses and the British Hoteliers Association are among those raising these concerns.

If the Digital Economy Bill is passed into law in its current form, any business that offers Internet access to customers could be held liable for their customers’ online actions. Even if the business could identify who had downloaded illicit content, this would not be enough. The strict liability the Bill creates simply makes the account holder liable for everyone’s potential copyright infringement.

The only obvious solution would be to supply Internet access through a third party like the Cloud, which would be able to track their users directly. As a result not all businesses will be able or willing to make these investments and will be forced to cease sharing Wi-Fi and by doing so will almost certainly lose customers.

It’s the same story for community centres, libraries and schools. They will all be taking on these new legal liabilities and could find themselves facing court action or disconnection from the Internet.

Many MPs have simply not understood how wide these liabilities are, or the likely consequences. Meanwhile, the government from bench seem to have convinced themselves that disconnection for individuals or businesses is a reasonable and proportionate response.

We need to stop this before it starts damaging the real digital economy and undermines respect for the law. We haven’t spent the last fifteen years building the online economy just to see it given a senseless knocking purely to give copyright holders sweeping powers to punish the innocent. That’s why people who actually understand how this will work – people like you – really need to contact your MP, explain what you do and why this is a terrible and unjust piece of legislation.

Find out more at http://www.openrightsgroup.org/disconnection.

Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group

About The Open Rights Group

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is a non-profit company funded by donors. Founded in 2005 by 1000 digital activists, ORG has become the UK’s leading voice defending freedom of expression, privacy, innovation, consumer rights and creativity on the net. ORG lobbies UK and EU governments and works alongside other campaign groups to stop bad laws that threaten our rights.

Have your say!

What do you think about ORG’s stance on the DEB? Do you agree that we should lobby our MPs to ensure our concerns are considered? Or do you believe the DEB is right and will successfully reduce copyright infringement? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

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One Response to “Open Rights Group slams the Digital Economy Bill”

  1. These increases in Cease, Cancellation charges for ADSL are ridiculous. Someone ought to complain to OFCOM.

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