By: MarkJ - 28 April, 2010 (7:08 AM)
conservative_party_uk.giflabour_party_uk.gifLeaders of the UK Labour and opposition Conservative party, Gordon Brown (PM) and David Cameron respectively, have now both given their reply to a question put by the Student Room that asked whether they would reconsider the controversial Digital Economy Bill Act.

The Act threatens to disconnect those "suspected" of unlawfully downloading copyright files through their broadband ISP. It will also lead to website blocking, which might affect YouTube and other popular sites, and could hamper the ability of anybody to setup a public / open Wi-Fi wireless internet connected network.

Question 6 - Variations asked by The-Wi$e-One, SumTingWong, Tawm, ScoCmac, Repressor, Slam, CompactDestruction, Squirrelbo1, passthelemon,The Magic Manatee:

Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?

Just over one week ago the Liberal Democrat party leader, Nick Clegg, was asked the same question (here). He broadly appeared to agree and later pledged to repeal parts of the act that relate to "internet blocking" and replace them with "something better". Sadly anybody expecting some recognition of the concerns will be disappointed by the latest replies.

Gordon Brown's answer:

"Our music, film and computer games industries are world leaders but they are under severe threat from piracy. The Bill is a considered response, after discussion with all parties, which offers a sanction of an internet suspension only for the most determined file-sharers and after repeated warnings.

I think students who have ambitions to work in the creative industries want to know that there will still be a career for them and a fair reward for the work that they do."

David Cameron's answer:

"It’s wrong that this Bill didn’t get the scrutiny it deserved. But rejecting the Bill then or reconsidering the entire piece of legislation now would be an unacceptable set-back for the important measures it contains. Copyline infringement and internet piracy, for example, need to be addressed. So my party took the decision to seek to remove those clauses of the Digital Economy Bill that we did not support or feel received proper legislative scrutiny, while supporting the legislation as a whole.

I’m confident that the way the legislation is drafted, thanks to Conservative amendments, means that we are by no means rushing in to action. For instance, the measures to tackle illegal peer-to-peer file sharing means that the temporary suspension of people’s internet connection would only follow public consultation and repeated warnings."

Copyline infringement? Suffice to say that nobody should have expected any recognition of the concerns from Gordon Brown. However it's frustrating to see that the Conservatives are also unable to even acknowledge that a problem exists. Of course few people would adjust their vote based on a single issue but in such a close three horse race it's probably unwise to shun voter concerns.
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