As the Digital Economy Act was passed both by the House of Lords and the House of Commons weeks ago, Britain was faced with some potentially serious acts of Internet censorship: the controversial clauses of the Digital Economy Act seek to tackle unlawful copyright sharing (P2P) by allowing courts to order ISPs to block websites offering copyright infringing content and cutting of internet users that have been caught downloading.
The government was heavily criticized by the press for rushing the bill through in a late nights session after just two hours of debate. One of the biggest opponents to the aforementioned clauses are the Liberal Democrats who fear that whistleblower sites like Wikileaks, that mainly carry copyrighted material, could be blocked and consequently freedom of speech would be restricted due to dangerously ambiguous wording of the Act.
Now that the Liberal Democrats form a government coalition with the Conservatives, the controversial clauses of the Digital Economy Act are being challenged once again. The Liberal Democrats held a special Sunday conference in which its members committed to repeal parts of the controversial act:
“Conference urges Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal of those sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 which are inconsistent with policy motion Freedom, Creativity and the Internet as passed at Spring Conference 2010.”
One can only hope that the outcome of this debate is a revised Digital Economy Act 2010 that will support its initial goals to support growth in the creative and digital sector, tackle online piracy and support the availability of public service content without restricting freedom of speech and freedom of information.