Digital Economy Bill made law in late night rush

The UK Digital Economy Bill was passed in a series of compromise deals to get it on the statute before the election. The legislation has been forced through despite opposition from ISPs and others that it would punish innocent users with its powers to disconnect allegedly heavy down loaders.

One of the main voices in opposition, Labour former digital engagement minister Tom Watson, warned the Bill could be a ‘catastrophic disaster’ if it went through in its current form. Critics particularly attacked the wording of a new amendment to clause 8 of the Bill – which will allow the blocking of ‘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’ – was dangerously broad, with the words ‘likely to’ meaning that a site wouldn’t even need to have actually infringed copyright for it to be blocked. Ofcom's powers were extended and it must now report quarterly on copyright infringements. ISPs who fail to comply with the warning and disconnection system will face fines of up to £250,000 (E285,000).

The final 42 clauses of the Bill were considered in a total of five minutes debate.

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