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UK's New "Digital Economy" One Step Closer to Law

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, April 8 2010

While noting that the pared-down version of the Digital Economy Bill that passed through the House of Commons under wash up last night might be a damp squib, the Guardian (UK) is still generally up in arms about the legislation. Their Charles Arthur reports:

The government forced through the controversial digital economy bill with the aid of the Conservative party last night, attaining a crucial third reading – which means it will get royal assent and become law – after just two hours of debate in the Commons.

However it was forced to drop clause 43 of the bill, a proposal on orphan works which had been opposed by photographers. They welcomed the news: "The UK government wanted to introduce a law to allow anyone to use your photographs commercially, or in ways you might not like, without asking you first. They have failed," said the site set up to oppose the proposals.

But despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats and a number of Labour MPs who spoke up against measures contained in the bill and put down a number of proposed amendments, the government easily won two votes to determine the content of the bill and its passage through the committee stage without making any changes it had not already agreed.

...

Numerous MPs complained that the bill was too important and its ramifications too great for it to be pushed through in this "wash-up" period in which bills are not given the usual detailed examination

What seems to have folks in UK most riled up about the bill is how on substance, the legislation frees the government to take action against digital downloaders and other undesirables, including shutting down their ISP connections, and on process, that the MPs didn't seem to have any clue about the matters they were legislating upon -- when they bothered to turn up at all. Protests are ranging on Twitter; follow along with #debill.

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