The press isn’t talking about the Digital Economy Bill. Noone knows about it, the higher echelons of New Labour are scrambling to get it passed unaltered before the general election in May, and frankly noone is protesting at the outrageous situation of an unelected government minister, who has been forced twice out of office in disgrace, who is trying very hard indeed to rescind freedom of speech for huge swathes of the population, who in turn are unable to kick him out a third time. I don’t get it. We’re talking about booting people off the internet entirely, after unproven accusations. We’re talking about the government blocking websites it simply doesn’t like. Any websites. We’re talking about Mandelson being allowed to make up copyright law on a whim rather than through the House of Commons. We’re talking walking away from due process and the rule of law, and why? Because internet filesharing is destroying the music industry’s profits? It isn’t. Because it’s damaging cinema takings? It isn’t!
The Digital Economy Bill instead fits cleanly into the narrative which New Labour has peddled since coming to power, that above everything this country needs order, and in order to do that it must be thoroughly surveilled and controlled. In order to justify this authoritarian agenda they need bogeymen and there are plenty: we need ID cards to save us from the terrorism ‘threat’, we need an ISA to save us from the paedophiles racing into every position of trust, and now we need this new law to save us from ‘pirates’, who they say are guilty of basic theft on a grand scale, which damages us all. But what if this entire narrative were a ruse, a fiction used to justify a government wedded to a corporatist, not progressive agenda?
Unelected Peter Mandelson wants to tell us files we can download. The unaccountable Internet Watch Foundation wants to tell us what images we’re allowed to see. Noone is saying that there aren’t problems with internet piracy, nor with indecent images, but is handing absolute power to unelected officials and politicians the solution? They say they can be trusted, that they have our best interests at heart, yet they are constructing the same framework as China’s – controlling the population (and convincing them they need it) rather than empowering them to make better decisions on their own. None of this is an accident, and they’re counting on successfully bribing the population in order to get away with it. We must be talking to our MPs, and everyone we know about this; the more people who understand what is really going on, the closer we’ll get to the tipping point. Britain wasn’t broken in 1997, nor is it now – join me in demanding politics of empowerment, respect, cultural enrichment and above all fairness. They can only do this for as long as we let them.
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