Letter to Lord Mandelson regarding proposed Digital Economy Bill


All you techies out there know that Lord Mandelson wants to remove internet access to households that may be downloading copyright infringing media (see http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/digitaleconomy.html dated 19 Nov 2009)

However, the EU has just agreed new rules, effectively making internet access a Fundamental Right (see http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/058-65039-327-11-48-909-20091123IPR65038-23-11-2009-2009-false/default_en.htm dated 24 Nov 2009)

The BBC has noticed (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8374732.stm 24 Nov 2009) that a lot of people don’t agree with Lord Mandelson’s position and highlighted an ePetition on the Number 10 Website which has (as of today) nearly 20,000 signatures ! (see http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/dontdisconnectus/)

Now I recommend we all write a letter to your local MP, your MEP’s and directly to Lord Mandelson using the WriteToThem website at http://www.writetothem.com/ Once I have more information from the Scrutiny officer (Emily Commander, Deputy Head (Legislation), Scrutiny Unit – scrutiny@parliament.uk ) I will post more action that I recommend to be taken.

I have already sent my letter to Lord Mandelson, and copy of that is here – feel free to copy & paste into your own letter if you wish 🙂

Dear Lord Mandelson,

Please could you explain to me how the proposed Digital Economy Bill will protect my EU rights, and UK based rights to internet freedom and access as your party and the EU have suggested in the past.

I note that the EU Telecoms rules were given the “green light” to introduce these new safeguards, and that:

“a user’s internet access may only be cut off if “appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society” and only after “a prior, fair and impartial procedure” which gives users the opportunity to state their case and respects the principles of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy.”

This, according to the EU press release:

“.. succeeded in affording internet access an equivalent legal protection to that of a fundamental right by adding the world’s first “internet freedom provision” to the EU framework law for electronic communications networks and services. Member States will have to adapt their national legislation to comply with these safeguards by 24 May 2011.

“We wanted to ensure that citizens’ rights would never be scorned or ignored (…) This is the first time that a legal text refers to the use of internet as the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms”, said Parliament’s rapporteur Catherine Trautmann (S&D, FR).”

I take it that as a former Commissioner of the EU Parliament, you will agree with both the wording and the spirit of the new EU regulations for protection of internet access.

In addition, could you explain why Section 17 of your proposed Digital Economy Bill has “reserve powers” – probably introduced using Statutory Instruments – which are not the subject of close and strict parliamentary scrutiny?

As a generous user, I am a member of FON and allow users to “piggy-back” on my Wi-Fi connection, enabling me to use Wi-Fi around Europe for free.

In the light of the possible adverse effect on my freedoms, leading to be “specially and directly affected” by this bill, could you direct me to where I may make petition against this bill, similar to petitioning a Private Members Bill.

I trust you are aware of some fundamental flaws in the bill as it stands, and you have seen the ePetition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/dontdisconnectus/ which has near 20,000 signatures to date.

I will of course, pending your detailed reply, be contacting Emily Commander, Deputy Head (Legislation), Scrutiny Unit, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA via email scrutiny@parliament.uk for further direction on providing a written submission to the Committee.

I look forward to receiving your swift reply.

Yours sincerely

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