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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Filed Under: copyright, digital economy bill, house of lords, lord lucas, peter mandelson, uk

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  1. icon
    eclecticdave (profile), 12 Feb 2010 @ 2:46am

    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.

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