Two post-event analyses of the #DEBill by me

As you might have seen in my previous
somewhat splenetic call to action
against the Digital Economy Bill the past few
weeks have been spent with my blood pressure rather high.

Perhaps out of therapy – or merely because
it’s offered a fascinating case study of how social media can be used to
potentially open up some form of direct democracy – I’ve pulled together a
couple of blog posts on the subject.

The posts broadly cover the use of social
media to campaign against the bill and the – I argue – ground-breaking way Twitter
was used to report the crucial debates in real-time as well as engage with
politicians mid-debate.

The first post was published over on We
Are Social's (i.e. my work's) blog
while the second was guest posted over at Royal Holloway University’s
New Political Communications Unit blog
.

Enjoy!

The digital industry must act now to stop the Digital Economy Bill

The way the UK’s Digital Economy Bill was created by Lord Mandelson and the music industry was  staggering in its audacity and truly disgusting. There was no attempt to veil the fact that the legislation was patently designed to protect the content industries; support executive salaries (and don’t for one second think that this will protect artists’ revenues. It doesn’t and it won’t) and insulate industrial busienss models form the creativity and innovation opened up by the Internet. It was also clear that the Bill would directly impact on citizens and consumers’ personal freedom and rights.

Outstandingly, as this vile piece of legislation has passed through the democratic process (and having been party to some of the to-ing and fro-ing of amendments in the Lords, I use that term loosely) the application of corrupt, money-driven, corporate, executive-serving self-interest has reached even loftier heights of shame.

I won’t dwell on the passion Lord Mandelson has shown in seeking to drive the Bill through the Commons without democratic debate; nor the disgusting collusion shown by all mainstream parties to date in order to gratify big business by preventing a debate; not even the appalling silence from both my own MP, Stewart Jackson, and Lord Clement Jones, who tabled a catastrophic amendment in the Lords at the behest of his content producing clients for at his firm DLA Piper. Without any doubt he is truly a vile, greed-obsessed man more passionate about protecting his client’s interests and his personal wealth than individual, human right.

Instead I want to call on my friends and peers that work in the digital and technology industries and issue a call to action: stand up for democracy; stand up against authoritarian, corporate-driven legislation; stand up for what is right.

The effects of the Digital Economy Bill as it stands will have serious implications for everyone. Us digital media types won’t be able to stop off at a café for a coffee and check our emails because free, open wifi will be shut off. Our children won’t be able to do their homework or learn about the wonders of the wider world because the household has been disconnected without evidence after someone has been suspected of 'illegally' sharing a large file.

But simply, if the Digital Economy Bill is passed we'll be faced with a bleak future where the stupefied consumers of Huxley’s Brave New World are now being shown the Orwell 1984 treatment.

Please. Please. Please. Act NOW before it is too late. Wake up from your stupefaction and do something:

**UPDATED** Ofcom: remind me what it’s for again?

I'm sorry. What's the point of Ofcom again? I'm sure it plays a valuable role regulating something but it seriously doesn't get the internet does it?

I am blown away by the sheer mind-numbing stupidity of today's report (which the BBC seems to be slavishly re-gurgitating without question.

According to Ofcom, the UK is one of the "world's most advanced countries in terms of digital communications". Why might you ask? Is it because we amazing broadband speeds? Is it because we have cloud wifi covering major cities?

No. It is because – and prepare yourselves for this – we, as a nation:

  • spend more time watching TV than other countries
  • send more texts than other countries
  • leads the world in online advertising (WTF??)

This blows me away. It really does. Call me a cynic but the reasons given hardly amount to anything substantial or even coherent (texts,TV, online ads?).

But what if you were a government trying to push through an insanely authoritarian bill that will curtail free, public use of the internet. You might want to convince the public that Britain is a great digital nation, thus giving the impression they can be trusted to make the right decisions.

It's not as if the report is independent. It's by Ofcom, a government body. The same body who will likely gets lots of money and power from enforcing the draconian laws in Peter Mandelson and the music industry's  Digital Economy Bill.

Sorry to harp on, but the report (or at least the BBC's coverage of it) sounds hollow. While it may be purely coincidence, given the nightmare of Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill which will certainly push us down any real global measure of 'digitalness' I can't help wonder if the two are connected.

**UPDATE** The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones tells me via Twitter that it's a just "a bunch of stats" Ofcom release every year. So it's more likely that it's a crappy news angle for a press release rather than anything sinister.

Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill will switch off public wifi

Another amazing and appalling consequence of the Digital Economy Bill has been unearthed by the Open Rights Group (ORG) and it's digital law team.

In a blog post analysing the detail of the Bill it seems that anyone offering wifi will held accountable if someone uses it to illegally download files. This means they'll face criminal proceedings and disconnection.

From the ORG blog:

"An end to internet cafes and shared networks

The Bill appears to impose obligations on account holders for the
behaviour of other users. This will adversely affect many businesses
and stop the many people who currently extend their access to the
internet to people in their community."

Take action now to prevent this from becoming a reality.

This is an important announcement…

Those that know me may be surprised that I haven't yet blogged about the government's appalling behaviour to take a fat wad of cash from the music industry in return for turning a blind eye to the amazing power the internet is bringing every facet of humankind and instead amending British law so that we can all take a giant leap backwards in terms of digital rights.

This is purely done to ensure that the UK's moronic entertainment industry executives get to keep their fucking enormous salaries until they retire, upon when they can also cash in their even more enormous fucking pensions.

But that's not all: in case the government wasn't sure that this is a totally fucking stupid idea that might cost them votes, they're also criminalising young people (some might say the electorate of the future), potentially breaching individuals' universal human rights and into the bargain Lord Mandelson has also opted to award himself the personal power to amend copyright laws willy-nilly with the barest minimum of parliamentary oversight.

This (and a whole lot more evilness, such as the loss of free public wifi) is wrapped up in a nifty Bill announced in last month's Queen's Speech called the Digital Economy Bill.

If you want the biggest, most hilarious of laughs, take a look at what I predicted and indeed hoped might be in the Bill when the initial consultation phase was announced last year.

Here's what really happened:

  1. Lord Carter appointed to consult on Digital Britain 
  2. Lord Carter speaks with various people and turnsout a not-perfect but very respectable white paper
  3. Lord Carter moves on
  4. Digital Britain progresses
  5. Lord Mandelson meets David Geffen and host of other music industry chiefs
  6. Lord Mandelson reverses pretty much everything that made sense in the original white paper and announces plans to turn himself into the Digital Witchfinder General

Your help is needed…

Here's what you can do now to help:

  1. Join the Open Rights Group (disc: I'm on the board) to help them lobby for sanity to be amended back into the bill and protect your future online rights
  2. Sign the Downing Street petition, signed by the likes of Stephen Fry, Graham Linehan, and loads others
  3. Adopt your MP to make sure they know about the insanity of what the Digital Economy Bill will inflict on the public

We need your help *NOW* – Mandelson is adamant that the Bill gets passed before they lose the chance to fuck us all up by shutting down the internet. Please take on one of the actions aboce and help spread the word by Tweeting, emailing or Facebooking this post.

Thank you.