Digital Economy Bill: Proposed By The Unelected, Debated By The Ignorant, Voted On By The Absent

from the buffoonery-in-action dept

With the UK’s Digital Economy Bill rushed through with little real debate, it’s worth looking at the ignorance behind those who supported and pushed through the bill. The more you look, the more you realize they didn’t even understand the very basics of what they were talking about. As some have noted it was “a bill proposed by the unelected, debated by the ignorant and voted on by the absent.”

And yes, it was proposed by the unelected Lord Mandelson, who has had to resign from the Government twice before due to accusations of corruption or influence peddling. And, of course, as many have noted, he only became interested in the whole Digital Economy Bill thing after vacationing with David Geffen, the former recording industry and movie industry mogul. After that, he suddenly pushed through the bill which went directly against the recommendations of the Gov’t’s own Digital Britain committee.

Then we get to the ignorant. Perhaps the most stunning is that, via Kevin Marks, we now learn that Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms, who was in charge of pushing the bill through, didn’t even understand what an “IP address” means. In a letter to an MP, he explained “IP” as an “Intellectual Property Address.”

Now, yes, IP is used for both Intellectual Property and Internet Protocol, but if you actually know what you’re talking about, you don’t mix up the two. And Carlo points us to a message from Will Tovey noting that the Digital Economy Bill originally called an IP address an “Internet Portal” address. These are the people you want deciding the basic internet setup in your country?

And the folks involved in the debate don’t seem to be too keen on understanding details either. During the debate, one MP, Michael Connarty had a bizarre take on the situation:

“People are not talking about co-operating and sharing their own thoughts and content, but are stealing someone else’s content and sharing that. There is an Armageddon, which has partially arrived in Sweden, where the Pirate Party, whose leader is in jail, won seats in the European Parliament on the basis that everybody’s work–including MP4’s–should be free.”

Can you count the number of mistakes there? Of course, the big one is the idea that the leader of the Pirate Party in Sweden is in jail. He’s not. My guess is that Connarty thinks The Pirate Bay and The Pirate Party are the same (they’re not even connected) and that the jail sentences handed down to some of the folks who worked on The Pirate Bay applied to The Pirate Party’s head and that someone was actually in jail (they’re not). But, you know, who needs details when you’re just setting the framework for all internet connectivity and rights across your country?

And, finally, there are the absent. During the little time put forth for debate — where many were vehemently opposed to the bill, notice that the House of Commons was basically empty:

But when it came time to vote? Suddenly over 200 MPs showed up. It makes you wonder why they’re allowed to vote if they haven’t even heard the debate. Especially when the guy in charge of convincing them to vote on this bill doesn’t seem to even understand what’s in it or what it will do.

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Comments on “Digital Economy Bill: Proposed By The Unelected, Debated By The Ignorant, Voted On By The Absent”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Amusing and sad

If the people didn’t want this bill, then it wouldn’t get passed, right? Right?!

Okay, so the government is enacting their client’s laws, but if the people really didn’t want it, they would protest it in the streets. Or maybe their scared of being beaten to death by “Police Medics”…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Amusing and sad

Oh god, their != they’re (they are). How could I make such a mistake?

More seriously on the topic at hand, this isn’t too big of a surprise. Understanding of technology is not usually a prerequisite for enacting laws on it. Although you would think that they would put these emails and correspondence through PR Scrubbers to make sure the government shows “one unified face” on such issues.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Amusing and sad

“The people” don’t yet even know about it. The media has kept a conspiracy of silence. When they find out about it it will be too late.

Every public forum in the UK in which this has been debated has shown a truly massive majority against this bill.

Those who know about it hate it.

However “the establishment” has had many years of practice at getting their own way in the teeth of public opposition.

1.8 million people in the UK signed a petition on the No 10 website against road pricing – yet oddly, after a brief pause, it is back on the agenda. They started out by holding referenda on the issue – but when every single one rejected it they started working on ways around the “public perception problem”.

With the DEB they decided that keeping a low profile was the best approach – and so far it has worked.

To these people a negative public reaction is not a message to change policy but rather a challenge to be overcome.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Amusing and sad

It’s also possible that once people around the world see what the implications of a law like this actually are (like when basic stuff that we all take forgranted online suddenly starts getting challenged in the UK courts) it will wake everyone up to how important these issues are in their own countries. All it will take is one move that really pisses people off – the UK blocking YouTube or Wikileaks or some such – to finally bring the IP debate into the mainstream.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Amusing and sad

If mainstream news outlets won’t even report on the bill itself, they’re definitely not going to report on its consequences.

Big media outlets seem to have a conspiracy of silence on news like this. It’s why you don’t get your newspaper and see “LORD MANDELSON WANTS TO KICK YOU AND YOUR FAMILY OFF THE INTERNET” on the front page.

The consequences will get reported on blogs, read by people “in the know”, ignored by large media, representatives will continue to pass whatever legislation their corporate sponsors want, and the whole thing will fly under the radar of your average consumer. Business as usual.

BBT says:

“And yes, it was proposed by the unelected Lord Mandelson, who has had to resign from the Government twice before due to accusations of corruption or influence peddling.”

I guess with three strikes, you just need to accuse him of corruption and influence peddling a third time and he’ll be banned from government for life.

Anonymous Coward says:

David Geffen just killed Dreamworks

Dreamworks hasn’t made a good movie in years. I wish Spielberg would leave Geffen is making him look like an ass.

Just watch– In a few years time, Dreamworks will be bought for pennies on the dollar. It will be disbursed among a few studios.

Dreamworks is today’s equivalant of MGM (Which, if it wasn’t wrapped up in DiscoVision would have survived) or Gulf+Western (Which was a company that had Attention Deficit Disorder).

Dreamworks and Geffen thinks it has something, but it’s lost it’s soul.

Anonymous Coward says:

David Geffen just killed Dreamworks

Nope, not the wrong thread. Geffen is listed in the original article.

the whole Digital Economy Bill thing after vacationing with David Geffen, the former recording industry and movie industry mogul.

MCA has a real weird history. MCA became Geffen Records. Lately, it seems who ever holds their assets becomes a bankrupt company within a decade or two. And they also re-circulate copyright ideas (sans reform) about once every 10 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

David Geffen just killed Dreamworks

I don’t know what it is today… MCA or Music Corporation of America was swallowed up by Geffen records, which became Dreamworks SKG (SKG meaning Spielberg, Katzenburg, Geffen) Parts of MCA were also acquired by Universal, Vivendi, and Warner.

Geffen Records eventually turned into interscope a Universal Music Brand.

Geffen was also an early supporter of Obama, and a while back I thought I read something about Geffen backing an Obama-based movie with Will Smith playing Obama.

In return, for supporting Obama, I believe he’ll support ACTA, just like he bought Mandelson and the Digital Economy Bill.

Glenn says:

More funny...

is “content owners” thinking that they haven’t “stolen” the very ideas that they claim as their own–that’s right… there’s nothing new under the sun. There isn’t a new idea out of places like Hollywood that isn’t rehashed work of someone else. What a joke… well, not so funny now, since they’ve bought a new law into existence which legalized their own theft of “IP”.

Jake (user link) says:

Wait, What?

Might the lack of MPs in attendance be something to do with the fact that Parliament is prorogued until after the General Election on May the 6th? In a sane political system this would prevent laws being voted on at all.

Also, there’s no timestamp on that screenshot but I’m prepared to bet the debate was timetabled for an hour when most MPs are back in their constituencies dealing with people’s complaints about broken playground equipment. Or propping up the bar somewhere.

Jake (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, though for what the job actually entails the rate of pay is actually quite poor. A regular MP has a regular commute of up to five hundred-odd miles, a workload roughly equivalent to the managing director of a good-sized corporation and the only way to be truly off-duty is to vacation in another hemisphere, yet the basic salary is about level with the manager of a large department score.
And then we wonder why so many of them end up gundecking their expenses claims, cutting shady backroom deals with lobbyists or just turning out to be as thick as two short planks.

Dave says:

A smell in the air

Basicly, the whole thing stinks. Mandelson must be a complete and utter wally if he thought that the public wouldn’t put two and two together regarding his holiday jaunt with an entertainment industry honcho and come up with considerably more than four. “Not discussed” denial. Yeah, right. As has been said many times, how on earth can a non-elected “official” be allowed to do all this? More to the point, how can a previously TWICE disgraced individual be allowed anywhere near anything more political than the instructions on how to open a can of beans?

chris says:

Digital Economy Bill

So i guess the goverment has yet to learn how wifi works? Or the fact that anyone with an iphone or laptop can simply sit outside one of these “free” wifi spots and download copyrighted material at no risk.

Too bad about the innocent people that will have their connections used without consent, and while they are left scratching thier heads wondering why they have no internet the real offenders simply move to the next wifi point and continue to download.

Typical 21st century bills being passed by cavemen. How sad.

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