Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Digital Economy Bill: The Reply

After waiting five days for a reply to my last email, I forwarded it to Stewart Hosie's main email address, as well as the SNP HQ email address.

Within a couple of hours, I'd recieved this reply from Kevin, the same assistant who'd replied to my previous missives. The yellow highighting around "PEGI" is his, not mine; I'm still not 100% sure why it's there.
Dear Paul

Further to our recent correspondence, Stewart has advised that, whilst he agrees there was a lack of scrutiny to the bill, he believed that the need for PEGI to become the classification system for video games overcame his concerns regarding scrutiny and the other sections of the bill.

He appreciates that you may be personally disappointed but his decision was one he did give careful consideration to.



This rang hollow to me; after all, the BBFC and PEGI already rate pretty much every game released in the UK, and rushing through a bill with the kind of security and civil rights implications of the #debill just to formalise that situation seems extreme to me, so I sent this short message back - and have yet to recieve a reply.

Thanks for the reply - I was just hoping to get a little bit more information from you about Stewart's decision.

Given that video games are already certified by the BBFC in some cases and PEGI in all others, what benefit does rushing through the Digital Economy Bill have? I don't see how waiting a couple of months with the system we have - which is perfectly functional and enforcable - is such a terrible prospect that the civil liberties of voters need to be put at risk from legislation that has not been given proper scrutiny and consideration.

I don't understand how the serious concerns about the bill expressed by internet companies, security agencies and your constituents are deemed less important by Stewart than the rushed official implementation of a ratings system that is actually already more or less in place.

I'm looking forward to your reply.



Hopefully I'll get a reply, but honestly I'm not expecting much.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Digital Economy Bill

Last night, the House of Commons passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill. For more information on why this bill is a useless piece of garbage, see here and a million other places online.

Immediately after the debate, shortly before midnight, I sent an email to my MP, the SNP's Stewart Hosie, asking how he'd voted. I got a reply from one of his assistants this morning saying they'd look into it and get back to me.

I found the answer myself, before they got back to me, so I sent this to them as well.

Hi Kevin,

I already know, thanks to Hansard (link), that Mr. Hosie voted in favour of the Digital Economy bill, which only really leaves one question outstanding:

Is it the official policy of the SNP to disregard the impact of wide-reaching and unscrutinized legislation on your constituents' civil liberties, in order to appease corporate lobbyists, or is that only the case for this bill? Did Mr. Hosie not read or understand the bill and its implications for free speech and communication, or did he simply not care? He obviously didn't feel strongly enough about the bill's contents to participate in the debate beforehand, despite being in the House of Commons for the finance debate that took place immediately before it.

Dundee prides itself on its thriving digital businesses; games companies like Denki, Realtime Worlds, Tag Games, Ruffian and Proper Games; Abertay and Dundee University's focus on computing and new media courses; the city's participation in the Fibre City Project, and of course the massive publishing and content creator that is DC Thomson. How can Mr. Hosie, who claims to represent many of the people who work for these companies and institutions, justify not standing up to say a single word during the Digital Economy Bill's debate?

Given the controversy surrounding this bill, and the massive impact it could - and very likely will have - on the future of communication in this country, it was essential that the whole House be allowed to scrutinize the whole bill before it was passed. Instead, the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat front benches colluded to have the bill forced through in the wash-up, bypassing the democratic process and cheating their constituents out of their rights. I am horrified that my MP and the rest of the SNP went along with this cheap sham.

Leaving aside the grave implications this bill has for the health of Britain's digital economy, the freedom of speech and the sharing of information, this is a severe precedent set for the future of democracy in the UK.


Paul Cosgrove