The new Digital Economy Bill has been submitted to the House of Lords, and as feared, the bill has little to do with stimulating the digital economy and more to do with punishing suspected file sharers.
According to the BBC, the bill was intended to turn the Digital Britain report in to law. However, while the report was a fairly comprehensive investigation in to how to bring the UK’s digital infrastructure in to the 21st century, the Digital Economy Bill is much narrower.
It proposes a £6 telephone tax to encourage the spread of broadband networks, makes age ratings for computer games compulsory, and crucially, it makes ISP’s legally obliged to provide details of suspected file sharers. Those service providers who refused will be subject to a £250,000 fine, while the suspected file sharers will have their internet connection cut off and face fines of up to £50,000.
The bill also includes provisions that allow it to be amended in case new technologies arise that allow content sharing in different ways.
“Entanet has voiced concerns over this policy for some time now but it appears that Mandelson has finally got his way – although the bill has not actually made it into law yet,” commented Enta’s head of marketing Darren Farnden in his blog.
“Whilst I understand the benefits that this would bring for copyright holders and the need to react quickly, I am concerned that this basically results in Mandelson et al being able to change the law as and when they feel necessary without the Lords or MP’s being able to block the move.”