There are very few commentators who are anything less than livid about the passing of the Digital Economy Bill last night. From adoptioncurve.net:
what the DE Bill has shown us is that when the lobbyists get going, the politicians start rolling over. What business doesn’t want, society doesn’t get.
So I’ve got no faith at all that our current political process will be able to deliver the changes that are going to be needed, because they’re in lock-step with the vested interests that will be most harmed by those changes. By the time we’ve managed to overcome the inertia that this will cause, it may well be too late.
I’m emphatically not saying that the Digital Economy Bill isn’t important. It is, and it’s a very clear proxy measure for the kind of culture and society that we want to be. At the moment it looks like we want to be the kind of society that locks anything and everything of value away – that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. That doesn’t value creativity, or cooperation, or anything that might conceivably not carry a profit motive. That sounds like a pretty bleak kind of place, even if it’s the stuff of a Murdochian wet dream. And it’s not a place I want to be part of.
Tim makes an overwhelmingly important point. The bill sends out a very clear message about the sort of society which New Labour and the Tories want to see – not just one dominated by vested, corporate interests, but one where the traditional, social values which used to bind us together are absent. It’s not just about Peter Mandelson now being allowed to block any website he likes from the Internet in the UK in secret and for any reason he chooses, it’s about marketising ideas, reducing creativity to a cost/benefit, profit-related process. I, like Tim, would like society to have values which aren’t determined by neo-liberal economics, which can’t be reduced to a balance sheet, which are intuitively shared and enjoyed. That our politicians do not should alarm each and every one of us.
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