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UK Digital Economy Bill Protest to Surface in front of Parliament TODAY

Posted: 24th Mar, 2010 By: MarkJ
parliamentThe Open Rights Group (ORG) claims that "hundreds" of activists are expected in front of Parliament today to protest against Government plans to cut people's internet (ISP) connections and allow website blocking. Protesters are to be gagged or blindfolded symbolising disconnection and censorship that will become law if the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) is passed by Parliament.

The bill has been heavily criticised for being extremely one-sided by giving rights holders far too much flexibility to draw up new laws without a fair balance of consultation and debate. Many feel that the wording is dangerously ambiguous and could lead to the blocking of websites like YouTube, the closure of many public Wi-Fi services and customers being unfairly disconnected from their broadband ISPs based on "suspected" copyright infringement.

Without the appropriate legal scrutiny the Government’s plans could criminalise innocent people and prevent them from conducting their lives, work or education online. Part of this is because technology can only identify the owner of the connection, an individual or company who will often not be the one taking part in illicit file sharing.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of The Open Rights Group, said:

"We are appalled that the basic tool of our society – the internet – could be taken away from people because of copyright infringement. We are even more appalled that this could all happen without democratic scrutiny, especially after revelations that industry lobbyists have been writing chunks of the Bill, and at least one Lord failed to declare an interest in the amendment put forward."

More than 12,000 members of the public have so far sent letters to their MPs urging them to demand a debate over the controversial Bill in the House of Commons. However this is unlikely to stop the new laws being rushed through Parliament before the election.

Protestors against the bill are expected to meet at 18:00 around Old Palace Yard (opposite Parliament), Abingdon Street, London, SW1P 3JY. There will be an organised photo-call of protestors gagged or blindfolded outside Parliament.
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