Still refusing to speak with one voice, the ConDemNation coalition has now announced it doesn’t intend to repeal the Digital Economy Act:
“We’re not going to repeal it,” the new UK government’s Conservative culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told paidContent:UK.
Instead, the administration will wait to see how the act’s measures perform and, if alterations or something more is needed, take action later, Hunt said.
That means the graduated-response anti-piracy action – which would level education or warning letters against freeloading ISP customers, leading to possible account suspension – will remain in place, along with all the bill’s other measures (see our recent quick-hit guide).
But the proposal for blocking sites containing infringing material was never part of the act, it was part of a separate parliamentary process instituted by Labour in the previous government’s dying days; so it is unlikely to see light of day.
The section of the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s detailed joint plans about media contains no reference to the Digital Economy Act.
Opposition to the act during its bill stage was vociferous from some online quarters, and the campaign is still going even though the act is law. Some party members of the coalition Liberal Democrats appear to still favour repeal.
But many sections of the media and cultural creation industry will welcome the retention of measures that seek to protect their intellectual property.
It’s a painful reminder that the coalition won’t speak with one consistent voice – Clegg may be pushing civil liberties and rollback of the surveillance state, but he’s still in coalition with the Conservative Party. The Deputy PM may have insisted on repeal of the Act before the election, but it does appear to be something he’s traded off in the coalition agreement. It’s a good lesson that we must all vote for whom we want at election time, but must then get involved in civil society pressure groups in order for what we voted for actually to get implemented. Sadly it also suggests that the coalition’s claims to want to roll back state intrusion aren’t quite as total as they want us to believe.