The Digital Economy Bill is due to be presented to the British public tomorrow and if a leaked document obtained by Boing Boing is to be believed it outlines terrifyingly strict legislation that could wind file sharers in prison.
The legislation reportedly gives digital police complete rights to “do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright.”
Mandelson elaborates on this, giving three reasons for his proposal:
1. The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements. (for example, he could authorize jail terms for file-sharing, or create a “three-strikes” plan that costs entire families their Internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)
2. The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to “confer rights” for the purposes of protecting rightsholders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)
3. The Secretary of State would get the power to “impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement” (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright “militias” can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)
This comes as news of Ofcom holding talks with ISPs over a monitoring system that would peer inside filesharing traffic to determine the level of copyright infringement, in preparation for new laws designed to protect the music, film and software industries.
According to The Register, “if the overall level of infringement is not cut by 70 per cent in a year, further provisions will be triggered, forcing ISPs to impose speed restriction after warnings. Internet access will be suspended for the most persistent infringers and could also potentially, jail time.”
As one commenter has pointed out however, they can’t possibly start locking up 75% of their population along with 99.9% of children ages 13-19.
This will just end up being another failed attempt to stop piracy.