A letter has been written by UK Internet giants including Facebook, Google and eBay and published in the Financial Times, slamming the Digital Economy Bill:
In a letter to the Financial Times, the group, which also includes UK ISPs such as BT and TalkTalk, said the amendment to the Digital Economy Bill has “obvious shortcomings” and will lead to an “increase in internet service providers blocking websites accused of illegally hosting copyrighted material without cases even reaching a judge”.
The amendment to Clause 17 of the bill, which was passed by the House of Lords last week, gives High Court judges the power to force ISPs to block access to any website with a “substantial” amount of copyright infringing content, such as YouTube.
“Endorsing a policy that would encourage the blocking of websites by UK broadband providers or other internet companies is a very serious step for the UK to take”, the companies said.
“There are myriad legal, technical and practical issues to reconcile before this can be considered a proportionate and necessary public policy option. In some cases, these may never be reconciled. These issues have not even been considered in this case.”
The companies claim the amendment has been rushed through without consultation with industry or consumers.
Although that amendment was withdrawn last night in the Commons it’s just been reinstated by the Lords – you know, those people who weren’t elected and who don’t represent any of us. Any of you who don’t feel that constitutional reform is the number one priority in political life just look at what a wash out this ‘wash up’ is! Would proportional representation and an elected Senate really bring this disgrace about?
The government has for months ignored the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling that its policy of indefinite retention of the DNA of people not convicted of a crime was illegal. Home Secretary Alan Johnson today played further mischief with the human rights of hundreds and thousands of entirely innocent people, purely for partisan political advantage in the pre-general election ‘wash up’ period:
The Conservatives have dropped their opposition to the government’s crime and security bill, including its controversial provisions to allow the police to retain the DNA profiles of innocent people for up to six years.
Instead of blocking the bill, the shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, made a fresh commitment that the Tories would bring in early legislation to ensure the DNA profiles of innocent people arrested for minor offences would not be retained on the national police DNA database.
“We will not seek to block this bill because the indefinite retention of innocent people’s DNA is unacceptable and has been ruled illegal,” said Grayling.He added that on taking office the Conservatives would also change the official guidance to the police, to give people the automatic right to have their DNA withdrawn from the database if have been wrongly accused of a minor crime.The decision follows a threat by the home secretary, Alan Johnson, to ditch the DNA provisions of the crime and security bill entirely, unless the Conservatives dropped their opposition to keeping profiles of innocent people on the database for up to six years.
Johnson said this morning he would pull all provisions from the amendment bill today if the Tories refuse to assent to the government’s plans. The bill is destined for this afternoon’s wash-up session to complete the government’s legislative programme ahead of the dissolution of parliament for the election.
Johnson told Sky News: “This is a basic example of how they [the Tories] talk tough on crime but act soft.”
I don’t normally use strong language on this blog, but what a cynical bastard the Home Secretary is. He’d rather play politics with one of the most important human rights issues in Britain today, and keep the country in breach of the Court’s ruling, instead of ensuring there was a system of appeal for people even to argue for their removal from the database. Yet more undemocratic game playing in the ‘wash up’ period by a government which has presided over the most out-of-touch, corrupt and inept parliament in living memory. The right to privacy and the presumption of innocence are commodities too precious to use as electioneering bargaining chips. When will this abuse end?
Remember the previous post about the pre-general election ‘wash up’? The Tories are now making mischief with sex education. From Ed Balls’ letter on his website to his shadow Michael Gove:
I am especially disappointed that, despite our conversation yesterday, you could not agree to make PSHE statutory in all state-funded schools. There is now widespread agreement that statutory PSHE is essential to prepare young people for adult life, and our reforms would ensure that by reducing the age of parental opt-out to 15, all children receive at least one year of compulsory sex and relationship education (SRE).
There is a large body of evidence showing that good SRE leads to young people taking greater responsibility and waiting longer to have their first sexual experience and thus reduced teenage pregnancy rates. It is because of this the provisions of the Bill had received such significant support in Parliament and more broadly across the sector, with faith groups and with parents.
As I explained yesterday, your insistence that parents should have a right to withdraw their children until they reach the age of 16 – the age at which they are in many respects considered adults – makes it impossible for us to proceed. Both British and European case law do not support an opt-out up to the age of 16. As I explained when we discussed yesterday, that amendment would have meant that the bill would not have been compliant with the ECHR. Your insistence that the age limit must be increased to 16 would have made the entire bill non-compliant with UK and European law and, therefore, our lawyers advised me that, as Secretary of State, I had no choice but to remove all the PSHE provisions.
This is a very significant set back, which will deny many young people proper and balanced sex and relationships education. I also strongly disagree with your insistence that children and young people attending academies should be excluded.
What a surprise. From the Shadow Home Secretary’s stumble over gay rights, we now move to the Shadow Children’s Secretary showing no interest whatsoever in empowering young people. And of course Balls (albeit hypocritically) shows they have no interest in human rights – they’re committed to repealing the Human Rights Act after all. The closer we get to May 6th the more the Tories start to reveal themselves as just as nasty as they were last time they were in power. Don’t be fooled for a moment about what these people are really like and for Heaven’s sake don’t vote for them.
An explanation of what has begun today in parliament, in advance of the general election: a constitutional stitch-up of the highest order. Having already betrayed us by abusing their expenses system, they’re about to do so again by betraying the democratic system itself.