MP’s response to my letter about the Digital Economy Bill

Below is the response to my letter to John Leech MP about the Digital Economy Bill.

In my letter I made it clear that he should be looking to protect the creative industries and I didn’t like how the bill was being pushed too quickly through parliament.

I am guessing this might be a template response. Did anyone else get an email back?

Dear Mr Crawford,

Thank you for your email.

As you will know, the Liberal Democrats have consistently demanded that the Bill be debated thoroughly. I do believe there are parts of the Bill which have the potential to support the creative industries well. However, as it stands, the Bill has been drafted very much according to a narrow agenda within industry, which lacks any consideration for other stakeholders.

Labour’s obsession with surveillance and controlling every aspect of life from Whitehall has meant that, since 1997, they have flooded the statute books with nearly 4,300 new ways of making us criminals. I do not think that simply criminalising average people will prevent copyright infringement.

There has been limited time for consultation and even less time before final decisions are made. I therefore do not believe that measures to address site blocking can reasonably be included in the Bill and will not support any such measures. Liberal Democrats have taken action and written in amendments to the Bill to ensure that temporary account suspension or bandwidth throttling can not be introduced without proper consultation.

While the Bill passed through the Lords, my party entered into an open and frank internal debate on the core issues in which a number of concerns were raised. I feel that the Bill focuses on preventing illegal file-sharing rather than on nurturing creativity.

Overall, it is an opportunity to deal with areas such as improving our radio infrastructure, preventing copyright infringement and implementing unified regulation of video games, to name but a few. These issues are unlikely to be a priority for a new government so it is extremely important that the Bill is given adequate debate and deliberation for it to fulfil its potential, and not be rushed through as the Government seems intent on doing.

However, the lack of consideration for highly important parts of the Bill such as the orphan-works and site-blocking issues, means we will not support the Bill as a whole. When it comes to it, I will not vote for Labour’s attempts to further criminalise people randomly as there is nothing constructive in this.

Paul Burstow MP, the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, told The Guardian that although the party’s opposition might not be enough on its own to prevent the Bill from passing, he hoped that the arguments being put forward – that the issues needed more debate than has been possible – might sway one of the other parties into delaying its passage.

He said: “During the negotiation and discussion in the wash-up we will make it clear that we think that it isn’t a suitable way to deal with the issues remaining such as site blocking. We will put amendments down and make the case and hope that the government and the Conservatives will agree that it shouldn’t proceed at this stage.”

Our goal is to support the creative industries while at the same time fully acknowledging the issues of rights and freedoms for the individual that arise as internet technology advances. In other words action should only be taken if it is appropriate, proportionate and necessary in a democratic society.

I have been receiving a very large number of emails and letters from constituents who are very concerned about this Bill and so I will be attending a flash mob in Manchester City Centre later today, to join in a protest against the draconian Bill.

Thank you for taking the time to get in touch.

Kind regards,

John Leech

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