In a late night session yesterday the Digital Economy Bill was forced through by the Government with the assistance of the Conservative opposition.
Complaints that the Bill is far too important to be passed through the “wash-up” period were ignored and after just two hours of debate in the Commons, it will now almost certainly become law.
The anti-piracy measures in this Bill have been essentially written by the music industry but despite opposition from just about everyone, it was approved by 189 MPs with just 47 against.
Former Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson, who was one of the few who voted against, was clearly upset as he wrote on Twitter: “First time I’ve ever broken the whip in the chamber. I feel physically sick.”
A total of 650 MPs could have been present but only 236 bothered to turn up and many of those that did were still in for criticism.
“It was painfully obvious to anyone watching the broadcast from Parliament this evening that any MP that only turned up for the divisions and not the debate does not care about the views of their constituents, does not care about democracy and does not care about the future of Britain’s digital economy,” said Graeme Lambert, the Pirate Party UK candidate for Bury North.
The Bill will pass without the hugely controversial site-blocking clause 18, but in its place will be a convenient and even more worrying amendment to clause 8. This will allow the Secretary of State for Business to block “a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright”.
The scope of this amendment simply boggles the mind. Labour MP John Hemming cited the more-often-than-not copyright infringing WikiLeaks as an example.
“A recent example is the US air force video, which it published,” noted Hemming. “Copyright exists with the US Government, who under the Bill could, and would want to, apply to ban WikiLeaks from the UK. That provision is clearly in the Bill.”
Finance secretary Stephen Timms, who insisted that since the creative industries are losing £1 billion a year to online file-sharing all these measures were absolutely necessary, was also in for criticism.
Mark Sims, Pirate Party UK candidate for East Ham noted that Timms spent “much of his time on the floor delaying debate, and refusing to answer questions put to him, instead relying on the party whips to force the vote through, essentially ignoring the concerns raised by voters in their questions put to ministers.”
So there we have it. We’re nearly at the end of the process that will save the music and movie industries, generating hundreds of millions in extra revenue, create countless jobs, stop all file-sharing sites, mechanisms and the general public from sharing files.
That’s it, it’s finished. The war is lost and the best part is the whole thing was pushed through in the highest spirit of democracy and with the full support of the people.
We’re shutting down TorrentFreak now and we’ll be reporting on events outside an HMV near you soon instead. We just hope they have enough stock to keep up with demand. Exciting times ahead.