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

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