Tomorrow is the second reading of the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons in the UK. It’s important that we all let our representatives know that geeks vote too and that the people with a first-hand understanding of the issues think it needs more scrutiny. I’ve included three great, thoughtful posts from JP Rangaswami of BT which provide explanations that are good for non-specialists.
“We have two more days to mobilise online opposition to the Digital Economy Bill. Here’s what you can do.”
JP has written here a long article about the potential unintended consequences of the Digital Economy Bill for the music industry. I disagree slightly with his continued focus on the downloads aspect. The biggest problems with the bill are that, in the name of protecting Cliff Richard’s pension, it will remove photographers’ rights, eliminate open wifi, enable easy censorship for unethical corporations and introduce other abuses the way the DMCA did.
His analysis is still very much worth reading to bring home the fact that the Bill dabbles inexpertly in an incredibly complex area of interlocking ecosystems and will upset them just as surely as introducing cane toads did in Australia.
JP with a delicious parable explaining why the Digital Economy Bill, although well-intentioned, acts in a way that’s disproportionate. Personally I am amazed to hear Gordon Brown preaching about the need for every citizen to have internet access and the need for online access to government services, and then in the next breath saying it’s fine to have it taken away for an offence whose analogue equivalents wouldn’t result in suspension of access to government services.
JP illustrates nicely the disconnect between what our politicians think the digital economy is from their (at best) second-hand pedestal and what people actually engaged first-hand in the digital economy think it is.
I have so far seen no mention of the challenges of the surveillance society by any political party in the materials delivered to my home.
While the front benches of the main parties try (hopefully unwittingly) to criminalise kids over copyright, rob photographers of their income, shut down nationwide wifi and provide a way for corporations to censor citizens and competitors, the police are running roughshod over our rights using exactly the same technologies.
The Digital Economy that our politicians have in mind is second-hand, relayed to them via lobbyists. Today is the day to contact your MP and the candidates in the upcoming election and tell them that you, a first-hand participant in the Digital Economy, are not satisfied.