Online giants Google, Facebook, eBay and Yahoo and a number of UK internet service providers (ISPs) have signed an open letter to the Financial Times objecting to an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, a measure currently being put before parliament.
Originally, parliamentary ministers had sought to extend powers allowing them to amend existing copyright law and penalise copyright infringements with tougher penalties and hefty fines. These were overturned by both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, replacing them with a more specific and damaging proposal.
Amendments to the Digital Economy Bill look set to hand power to courts to force internet service providers (ISPs) to block certain websites. Signatories of the letter believe the Bill and it’s associated measures will threaten “freedom of speech and the open internet” and would not tackle copyright infringement as intended.
The bill has complete party support Westminster (the revisions approved by 165 votes to 140), it’s members believing new measures would protect the creative industries by preventing access to websites where films and music were being provided illegally.
Parliament face stiff opposition from some of the largest telecoms (BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Talk Talk) and internet companies in the UK (Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, Google) aswell as backing from Stephen Fry, Labour MP’s and a whole host of digital rights groups and activists.
The letter states:
“Put simply, blocking access as envisaged by this clause would both widely disrupt the internet in the UK and elsewhere and threaten freedom of speech and the open internet, without reducing copyright infringement as intended.
To rush through such a controversial proposal at the tail end of a parliament, without any kind of consultation with consumers or industry, is very poor lawmaking.”
The bill will be put before a House of Lords vote next week before passing it to the House of Commons.
We will keep you updated as this story progresses.
[Source – Telegraph]