Use the internet? This affects you. Read it.
This morning I awoke to find the news that the Digital Economy Bill has been passed through the house of Lords. I first heard about the proposal of the bill a few months ago and have been keeping my eyes peeled for any news on its developments. Now the bill has been passed through the House of Lords, it will be very quickly pushed through the commons as a law before the election, if not the whole process will have to start again. This news is being shoved under the carpet in a very immoral way (why is it below America getting high speed internet?), a public discussion is not being openly encouraged, which needs to happen.
For those that have not heard about the bill, being proposed by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, you can read it here. To summarise, it’s main proposal is that anyone even suspected of illegal file-sharing will have their internet access cut off, even before trial. This bill has huge implications on our human rights, particularly for those working in any digitally creative industry were sharing their work virally is the only way to get noticed. It is controlling, draconian and only operating in the efforts of large multi-national businesses, echoing the musings of record companies affected by the rise of downloading. Cutting peoples internet is opposed by industry experts, giants such as Google, Facebook, internet service providers, as well as the British Library, but the bill is still being passed through.
What does it mean for you and I?
Say you are a student living in a house with 5 other people, sharing your internet. One of you gets suspected of downloading and your internet gets cut. Everyone in the building suffers due to the act of one individual. As more of our everyday activities become integral to the use of the internet, this could have a major affect on your degree studies, not to mention your life.
It doesn’t stop there. What about if a student downloads something from a uni or school computer, or one at a library? Then that whole institution suffers, as well as the people that depend on that place for access and personal technological development. Small businesses, whose’s access to the web is integral to their survival, would be forced to shut down. This is also if you are even suspected of file-sharing. What if you shared a file, that is by rights yours, but the internet police believe that you are engaging in an illegal activity?
The opening quote to ‘Steal this Film’ – which is a must see by anyone interested in this subject – quotes Paul Getty as saying “Data is the oil of the 21st century”. The sharing of information, ours or not, is essential to the progress of society. I am not saying that we should be allowed to steal the things we want, but knowledge is a powerful thing and sharing should be actively encouraged in the interests of social progress, not discouraged in the interests of capitalism.
Time is running out before the next election. I am encouraging everyone to write to their MP, urging them to make your feelings known when this bill is discussed in the commons. We need to resist this bill in the interests of our human rights, cultural endeavors and technological progress. This bill will only leave alot of people in the dark.
This website makes writing to your MP really easy. It takes 10 minutes. Please do it –> 38 Degrees
“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso.