House Of Lords Has Serious Concerns About Digital Economy Bill

from the amendments-to-come dept

We’ve already pointed out how Lord Lucas seems to be quite concerned about the ridiculousness in the Digital Economy Bill, and has proposed a series of amendments to help get rid of these problematic elements. However, it looks like some others in the House of Lords are equally concerned as well. Michael Scott points us to the news that the Lords’ Human Rights Joint Committee has put out a report that is highly critical of the more controversial points in the Digital Economy Bill, starting with the pressure on ISPs to disconnect users under a three strikes plan:

The Bill provides for the Secretary of State to have the power to require ISPs to take “technical measures” in respect of account holders who have been the subject of copyright infringement reports. The scope of the measures will be defined in secondary legislation and could be wide-ranging.

We do not believe that such a skeletal approach to powers which engage human rights is appropriate. There is potential for these powers to be applied in a disproportionate manner which could lead to a breach of internet users’ rights to respect for correspondence and freedom of expression.

There are also grave concerns over section 17, which would effectively let the Business Secretary change copyright law at will:

The broad nature of this power has been the subject of much criticism. In correspondence with us, the Secretary of State explained that the Government intended to introduce amendments to limit the power in Clause 17 and to introduce a ‘super-affirmative’ procedure. The Government amendments would limit the circumstances in which the Government could use their powers to amend the Act by secondary legislation and would provide a system for enhanced parliamentary scrutiny.

Despite the proposed amendments we are concerned that Clause 17 remains overly broad and that parliamentary scrutiny may remain inadequate. We call for a series of clarifications to address these concerns.

On top of that, they’re still a bit skeptical even of requiring ISPs to send notices when a user is accused of infringement, noting that while they don’t think this would be a restriction on human rights or freedom of expression, they would like “a further explanation of why they [the backers of the bill] consider their proposals are proportionate.”

Definitely nice to see that this bill isn’t just getting rushed through, and there are some folks who are heavily questioning the more ridiculous parts of the bill.

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Comments on “House Of Lords Has Serious Concerns About Digital Economy Bill”

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Enrico Suarve says:

Is it just me?

Or is anyone else getting their realities merged and picturing Lord Lucas in a Jedi robe?

“Ah Darth Mandelson… You can strike me down but I will become more powerful that you can possibly imagine”

Obviously it helps that Mr Mandelson is already way on the dark side, but I can’t help wondering who will turn out to be the emperor in act4…

eclecticdave (profile) says:

Re: Aristocratic Lords protect liberty

> It’s really quite amusing, while also being horrible,
> that the personal freedoms and liberties of Britons have > been best protected for years now by the unelected body
> of aristocrats in the house of Lords.

Yes it is ironic – although the House of Lords is no longer exclusively populated by true aristocrats – they reformed that some years back.

They also tried to complete the job a couple of years ago IIRC, trying to turn Lords in a 100% elected body – the danger here is unless you’re careful you end up with the same party controlling both houses and being able to push through bad stuff like this without any resistance. (Sound familiar?)

Although an elected upper house is theoretically better, in practice the Lords have been very good at keeping the government in check on a number of important issues in the past.

Call me Al says:

Re: Aristocratic Lords protect liberty

I’ve long fel that the House of Lords were the guardians of freedom and libery in the UK. They have the opportunity to do the right thing because they aren’t so much at the mercy of the baying mob of popular opinion. The fact that they threw the 42 detention laws back at the government made me cheer for them and Lord Lucas’ indepth analysis of the Digital Economy bill is very heartening. The Commons barely gave it a glance.

Quite frankly I have far more respect for the Lords then I do for the Commons who I generally feel are a collection of snivelling cowards ready to jump into bed with the first large wallet to cross their paths.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Aristocratic Lords protect liberty

Completely agree there. I’d rather the second house wasn’t elected by popular vote, as they then don’t need to pander to either business bribes, or populist agendas. Instead they can get on with the business of running the country.

Of course you need some form of system for choosing who is going to be in the House of Lords. I just don’t think it should be by public vote.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Aristocratic Lords protect liberty

While I agree that the Lords are currently more effective in doing the people’s will than the Commons, I’d argue that is merely a symptom of the problem with the system behind the Commons. If you accept the house of lords as necessary then you may as well give up on democracy altogether.

It might be worth mentioning again that Mandelson got back in through the House of Lords.

ethorad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Aristocratic Lords protect liberty

A lot of countries have a bicameral government, I don’t think that means we should give up on democracy.

To my mind (one of) the advantage of the Lords is that it is filled using a different process to the Commons. If the Lords were all directly elected, we’d end up with two houses of Commons so we might as well combine into one.

Agree that it’s unfortunate that the government can stack the house of Lords for political purposes – also putting people in there so that they can take on cabinet posts etc when they aren’t elected (Mandelson, Sugar spring to mind).

Comes down to how do we fill the second house:

  • Voting – I don’t like as wouldn’t be different to the Commons
  • Hereditary – Somewhat of out of favour these days
  • Appointed – but who does the appointing, and how to prevent it becoming too party political
  • Lottery – Run it like a jury system, or conscription, with people required to do 2 years service, although getting higher earners (above average intelligence?) to do this could be hard
john says:

Re: Re: Re: Aristocratic Lords protect liberty

Generally , Upper houses protect against the tyranny of the majority. The UK has a first past the post voting system & that can mean that the majority party in the lower chamber did not get a majority of the total votes cast ,in any 3 cornered election contest. Few people when they voted at the last election gave much thought to copyright issues. This is an issue radically affecting a lot of common law concepts of economic property rights. It should be a matter for the next government to ponder.

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