By: MarkJ - 12 October, 2011 (9:05 AM)
uk parliamentpirate flagThe UK government has refused to repeal sections 17 and 18 of the controversial 2010 Digital Economy Act (DEA). The sections would have forced broadband ISPs to introduce mandatory blocking (censorship) of any website that is deemed to facilitate internet copyright infringement (piracy), which is despite Ofcom and the government already accepting that the provisions do not work (here).

Instead the governments Minister for Crime and Security at the Home Office, James Brokenshire MP, confirmed in a debate on the Protection of Freedoms Bill yesterday that web blocking could not be repealed "in isolation from any other legislative changes that might be needed" because it would first need to be reviewed as part of the forthcoming Communications Bill.

The call for a formal repeal was put forward by the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, Julian Huppert, whom tabled a new clause 11 that would "repeal provisions in the Digital Economy Act 2010 that the Government have already accepted do not work and which they have accepted they will not use".

Responding, James Brokenshire MP, said:

"He will be aware that the Government announced in August that they did not intend to commence sections 17 and 18 of the Act. There might not be time to debate his new clause, but we are now working on a wide-scale review of the communications sector with a view to publishing a Green Paper by the spring of next year, and a draft Bill by mid-2013.

Policy on tackling online copyright infringement, including site-blocking, is being considered as part of that review and, given our intention to conduct that wide-ranging review, it would be premature to act now to repeal sections 17 and 18 of the Act in isolation from any other legislative changes that might be needed."

Brokenshire is most likely mindful of the fact that the government, Rights Holders and several major ISPs are currently attempting to establish a new Voluntary Code of Practice for blocking the most prolific piracy facilitating sites (here).

The government is also pushing for web blocking of adult sites. Yesterday several major ISPs agreed to a new code of practice for doing this (here). A related review has suggested that the forthcoming Communications Bill should be prepared to "legislate" in order to force adult content blocks if progress on this front remained "insufficient".
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