Tomorrow morning Lord Mandelson will present the Digital Economy Bill to the public, which among other things is aimed at reducing illicit file-sharing. According to parts of the bill that leaked today, the legislation could lead to jail terms for file-sharers and unprecedented power for the entertainment industries.
Over the past months the UK government has tried to tackle the issue of online piracy. This has resulted in a proposal from Lord Mandelson, who plans to disconnect alleged file sharers without any judicial process.
Tomorrow the exact text of the bill is expected to be made public, but according to early reports, the legislation will open all doors for a digital police state where alleged pirates will be crucified by private companies.
Judging from some of the plans that leaked earlier today, the endless lobbying efforts of the entertainment industry by anti-piracy outfits including IFPI and the BPI have definitely paid off.
Cory Doctorow has the scoop on BoingBoing and he told TorrentFreak that the information comes from someone “very close to the Labour government” who he trusts implicitly.
If accurate, the new legislation will be a disaster for the privacy of all Internet users while giving unprecedented powers to the entertainment industry. Under the new bill the Secretary of State would be able to pass secondary legislation without Parliamentary oversight in order to protect rights holders.
Three reasons are given:
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)
The leaked information mainly shows that the Secretary of State will have the power to introduce all kinds of draconian measures without Parliamentary oversight. More details on concrete policy dealing with alleged file-sharers and the proposed three-strikes system have yet to be announced.