Tag Archives: digital economy bill

Lib Dem amendment to give power to mobile phone users defeats Government in Lords

After two days of debate on the Article 50 Bill, the House of Lords turned its attention to the Digital Economy Bill last night – and inflicted a defeat on the Government as the Mirror reports.

The House of Lords backed plans to cap monthly mobile phone bills tonight as peers inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the Government.

Supporters say it will stop cash-strapped users seeing costs spiral out of control, barring them from making calls when they hit their limit.

Tory ministers hoped to block the move, which would let customers set limits on how much they can spend.

But the plan, written as amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, was approved 244-198 (majority 46) against the government’s wishes.

Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones backed it, saying: “Mobile phone billing is one of the most complicated areas of domestic expenditure.

There may be in particular some danger of vulnerable customers getting into difficulty and it should be possible for a consumer to set a cap on expenditure on a mobile phone.

The amendment also makes it easier for people to switch mobile phone contracts. Tim Clement-Jones added after the debate:

The Liberal Democrats have beaten the government to create a fairer system in which the consumer rights of many millions of mobile phone users are put first.

Today’s vote will mean greater rights for the millions of people across the country who have a mobile phone contract.

The Government now has to decide whether it is going to fight against this proposal. Overturning this amendment will be a slap in the face to anyone who has had been tied up with an unjust and exploitative phone contract.

The Government suffered a second defeat on the issue of rural broadband. Tim Clement-Jones explains:

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Everything you ever wanted to know about… Policy and the Parliamentary Party (part 3)

In the first two parts of this mini-series, I looked at how policy is made, and how its creation is managed. Today, I want to look at its failings, the implications of those failings, and how future policy making might be shaped.

As a party of perpetual opposition, our inclusive but often ponderous policy-making regime allowed members to influence core policy, in the knowledge that it would be a means of attacking the Government, but was unlikely to be applied. Occasionally, that led to somewhat populist ideas being espoused but, if a Government did something in a field where our policy was obsolete, or overtaken by events, our spokespeople had a set of principles to fall back on.

Such an arrangement worked, for the most part, especially in small Parliamentary Parties. However, its weaknesses became more apparent as Labour’s mania for legislation produced a plethora of technical changes in need of detailed scrutiny.

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Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert leads charge to get parts of Digital Economy Act scrapped

Julian Huppert, newly elected Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, has made something of a splash in his first months in Parliament, taking up a number of liberal causes, such as the need for more evidence-based and scientific rigour in government decision-making. The Digital Economy Act is one such cause.

TechEYE.net reports:

Julian Huppert said it was wrong to rush the controversial Act through Parliament before the last election and that the proposed measures warrant more discussion. … The new MP for Cambridge said: “Most of the Act is fine, I just don’t agree with every bit of it – and with

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Ofcom publishes draft code for internet piracy

At the end of last week the regulator Ofcom published a draft of the code to be followed for taking action against online copyright infringement following the passage of the Digital Economy Act.

As Rory Cellan-Jones points out, some aspects of the draft code deal with concerns raised during the passage of the Act. In particular, the code only applies to ISPs with over 400,000 customers, thereby excluding operators of Wi-Fi networks such as cafes and universities who had been worried they would be forced to incur significant costs tightly policing their networks.

The code also confirms one of the concessions …

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YouTube publishes party leader video responses

Until earlier this week it would have seemed a good idea to use the day before the final party leaders’ debate to launch the leaders’ answers to YouTube’s Digital Debate questions. Gordon Brown, a live mike and the word “bigot” rather buried the whole story which is a shame as the questions and answers explore a range of issues beyond the well-trodden ground of most of the mainstream media coverage.

You can watch the answers over at http://www.youtube.com/ukelection – and in particular look out for Nick Clegg’s very strong answer on the Digital Economy Bill question.

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Clegg commits to Digital Economy Act repeals

Doing the rounds of online news today has been Nick Clegg’s opposition to the Digital Economy Act:

Lib Dems will call for repeal of Digital Economy Act
Nick Clegg outlines fears over controversial new laws

The phrase “repeal the Digital Economy Act/Bill” has become a bit of a shorthand, often being used to mean “repeal the controversial bits” – either as a piece of verbal shorthand or because so much attention has focused on those parts that people using the phrase aren’t aware there is rather more to the Act. So I’ve double-checked Nick’s full views and they do draw the sensible distinction:


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Digital Economy Bill: the key decision to be made after the election #debill

Although Labour, with Conservative support, managed to ram through the Digital Economy Bill, that’s not quite the end of the matter as far as votes in Parliament are concerned.

That’s because one concession the Liberal Democrats did manage to extract was the provision that no ‘technical measures’ (i.e. cutting off people’s internet connections) can be introduced for at least a year, and only then can be done so after a period of analysis and consultation. Parliament will get a chance to vote on these  measure – even if the Government is a Tory or Labour one that doesn’t want to change …

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If you ram through a law about illegal copying online…

… the last you thing you want is to be caught red-handed indulging in a bit of, er…, illegal copying online.

Step forward and take a bow: the Labour Party (front bench voted for the Digital Economy Bill)

Followed by a bow please from the Conservative Party (front bench voted for the Digital Economy Bill)

For as The Frontline reports:

Despite months promoting the rights of copyright holders with its Digital Economy Bill, the government has caused something of a furore after revelations that its recently crowdsourced campaign poster has breached copyright laws.

The poster is intended to parody Tory leader David Cameron by

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LibLink: James Graham – Digital economy bill exposes broken system #DEbill

Over at The Guardian’s Comment Is Free website, Lib Dem blogger James Graham argues that it was the UK’s broken Parliament – an antiquated Lords, a whipped Commons – which got us into the legislative mess of Labour’s Digital Economy Bill. The only way to fix it, says James, is to vote for a new politics. Here’s an excerpt:

The real lesson from this experience is that we need a more representative and responsive political system. Digital rights will always be one of those Cinderella issues while the voting system focuses politicians’ attention solely on a handful of swing voters in

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The ‘Digital Economy Bill Saints’: the MPs who voted against Labour’s internet freedom clampdown #DEbill

The House of Commons voted last night to push through Labour’s latest bit of legislative authoritarianism, the Digital Economy Bill. The Lib Dems were united in opposing it, but Labour brooked no opposition, while the Tories supported it with vague words of change, later, maybe. The Bill was passed by 189 votes to 47.

Alix Mortimer has tallied the scores of how the parties voted:

Of the 189 Aye votes, I make it 185 Labour and 4 Conservatives. Plus the two tellers were Labour.

Of the 47 Noe votes, I make it 23 Labour rebels, 16 Lib Dems, 5 Conservatives and 3 others (DUP, PC, Ind). Plus the two tellers were Lib Dem.

In total 240 MPs took part in the vote: 98% of MPs who voted for the Digital Economy Bill were Labour MPs.

The opposition to the Bill comprised 49 MPs (including the two tellers). As a percentage of the major parties’ representation in the House of Commons that means:

  • 29% of all Lib Dem MPs voted against the Bill (100% of those present);
Posted in News | 52 Comments

What happens in wash up – and what will happen to the Digital Economy Bill?

The concept of “wash up” has become subject of greater attention just before the last few general elections, but it’s not nearly as special as descriptions make it sound. What happens is that just before Parliament is dissolved for a general election various pieces of legislation are rushed through rather than be lost and have to start again from scratch after the election. There are no special Parliamentary rules to allow this speedy legislation. Instead, Parliament just has to vote for speedy processes as it can at any other time in the Parliamentary cycle. If you have the votes, you …

Posted in General Election and News | Also tagged | 7 Comments

An open letter to Jeremy Hunt, Conservative MP for South West Surrey

As the Conservatives look set to help Labour push the flawed Digital Economy Bill into law before the election, Mike Simpson, Lib Dem candidate for SW Surrey, questions his opponent in the election – the Conservative media spokesman.

Dear Mr Hunt

Digital Economy Bill: another Parliamentary scandal?

I am puzzled: why are you and the Conservatives working with the Government to get the Digital Economy Bill passed before the election?

It can’t be because consumers will have to pay an extra £300 million for internet security to avoid being disconnected or have their bandwidth throttled. Or because 

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Will the Tories back Labour’s plan that could land us with a £300m bill?

The ISP Talk Talk (over whose connection I’m writing this) has made an extremely good point about the Digital Economy Bill, which is set to be debated extremely briefly in the House of Commons during the week:

Clause 14 of the bill demands that customers take “reasonable steps” to prevent their network from being used by hackers for illicit purposes. TalkTalk claims that that would “presumably” be interpreted as a demand for the latest security measures, and calculates that such expense would, spread throughout just half the current number of houses connected to broadband, necessitate approximately £300 million in upgrade costs.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Open Rights Group flashmob serves disconnection notice on UK Music #DEBill

DEBill flashmob at UK Music
Filmmaker Obhi Chatterjee, one of the team behind the Lib Dem Spring Conference emergency motion on Freedom, creativity & the internet, describes the experience:

It was while following #DEBill on Twitter on the train that, with just over an hour to go, we discovered where we had to be at 12:15. In front of London’s Dominion Theatre, near Tottenham Court Road. Bring a police helmet and clipboard if poss.

My father had struggled to understand how we could have left home knowing only that we had to be in central London at a certain time. We had aimed for Trafalgar Square.

I recognised Open Rights Group‘s Executive Director, Jim Killock, from his Facebook photo. A few people were distributing imitation police helmets and clipboards. A journalist was asking people why they were there.

The sheet on the clipboard explained what we had to do and where we had to go: the Soho offices of UK Music, a short walk away.

Once there, we were to wander up and down outside the building, looking officious. Perhaps everyone was too good-humoured and smiling a bit too much for that.

Still, there were quite a few photographers and video cameras around to record the event.

Staff heading out of the building for lunch didn’t seem to be very conversational. I can’t imagine they mistook us for MI5 …

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Paul Burstow: Liberal Democrats won’t support the Digital Economy Bill

The Liberal Democrats have now withdrawn their support for the Digital Economy Bill, in a revision of the original plan to vote against certain elements in the “washup” (the last-minute rush to pass laws without debate or detailed scrutiny at the end of a Parliament).

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip announced on Twitter earlier today:

I have told the Govt we won’t support the Digital Economy Bill as drafted. There is not enough time for MPs to examine it in detail.

The Guardian takes up the story:

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Digital Economy Bill latest – two cheers for the LibDem team

As Liberal Democrat Voice has reported in depth over recent weeks, there was a surge of debate around the party’s response to the Digital Economy Bill, leading to our open letter from PPCs, and the emergency motion passed at conference. Great joy.

Then it all went quiet.

There has of course been a little matter of the Budget. MPs and candidates have been, quite rightly, out on the hustings and the doorsteps. But if our Parliamentary party were otherwise engaged, the blogosphere was not. The dedicated campaigning of the Open Rights Group was joined by the 38 Degrees lobby. They have objected not only to the content of bits of the Digital Economy Bill, but also the obvious concerns about its process.

If nothing else, this Bill has highlighted to a new generation of voters the urgent need for Parliamentary reform. The unelected second chamber; ridiculous rush, horsetrading and lack of debate of the washup; the way a Government elected with a minority of the vote can railroad through legislation – all of this must change.

The Open Rights Group anti-disconnection rally took the issue from the screen to the streets, and I was delighted to be invited to speak on behalf of our party. As I told the crowds, we started campaigning for Freedom of Information against a Tory government; now we are campaigning for free exchange of information under Labour. When you deal with a death, there is a cycle of emotion from grief through anger to acceptance. When it comes to the death of our freedoms under Labour, as Liberal Democrats we may be aggrieved, we are angry, but we will not accept it.

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Daily View 2×2: 26 March 2010

Time flies – Friday already! And is it really 29 years to the day that the Gang of Four launched a new political party: the Social Democrats?

Roy Jenkins said at the launch:

We want to get away from the politics of our dated dogmatism and class confrontation. We want to release the energies of people who are fed up with the old slanging match.

Watch the video of the launch here.

2 Big Stories

Digital economy bill to be pushed through parliament next month

The controversial digital economy bill will be pushed through in the “wash-up” leading up to an election, after the government confirmed that it will receive its second reading in the Commons on 6 April – the same day that Gordon Brown is expected to seek Parliament’s dissolution.

Harriet Harman, the leader of the house, said today that the bill will get its second reading. But when questioned by Labour MPs Neil Gerrard and Tom Watson about the lack of time given to debate over controversial issues in the bill, she said only that “ministers are aware” of the strong feelings that the proposed legislation has engendered.

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Daily View 2×2: Jenga special

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am. It’s time for jenga, but first the news.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

  • A failure of scrutiny on digital bill: Peter Black blogs about the letter signed by, amongst others, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidates Bridget Fox and Julian Huppert. Danger of Parliament rushing through legislation without proper debate? Who would have thought it.
  • Elementary errors: Giles Wilkes on the important difference between a stock and a flow. More interesting and useful than I’ve made it sound.

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

BA fights to limit the impact of cabin crew strike

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The Independent View: The Digital Economy Bill should not be pushed through without proper scrutiny

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, writes about the Digital Economy Bill:

The Open Rights Group would like to thank the Lib Dems for taking a strong policy stance against the Digital Economy Bill’s disconnection and web blocking proposals.

The biggest danger now is that Parliament will not debate or amend the Bill at all. After the budget, the Bill could be passed with little or no debate, as the election must be called within the next few weeks. The result could be that the Bill becomes law in very bad shape.

The Lib Dems have a very significant role …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | 12 Comments

Digital economy bill must be debated in the Commons

So despite conference taking our peers out for a friendly word in their shell-like, it seems the Digital Economy Bill has successfully cleared the hurdles in the House of Lords.

Some industry experts are relying on the bill passing simply because it runs out of time, the MPs fail to scrutinize it, and it gets through thanks to the wash-up.

So now is the time to write to your MP to insist the bill gets a proper hearing in the Commons.  38 Degrees have information and a campaign to help you do that.

Posted in Conference, LDV campaigns and News | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Lib Dems and the #debill

I don’t want to be excessively partisan, but for the second time this weekend at conference, I’m getting a really good feeling about the Liberal Democrats.

The first was when we heard that a senior, experienced MEP thought our party was the best way forward.

But the second has been our response to the Digital Economy Bill and a huge online campaign from internet activists within the party and of no party.

Yes, it’s true that our team in the Lords invited the anger of the online activist fraternity. A lot of resentment has been brewing about the Digital Economy Bill as a …

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+++ PODCAST: Lib Dem #debill debate

I always seem to start my podcasts with an apology. In the hurry to bring this recording to you so you can share in the debate the Lib Dems had this morning, I have not yet processed my sound file. It could do with a bit of amplification for sure. And I’m afraid I missed the vital first few moments of Bridget Fox’s speech. And after that, the speeches will be punctuated by the sounds of the hall slowly filling up as the debate progressed, and the frustration of many of the delegates that what looked like …

Posted in Conference and Podcasts | Also tagged | 2 Comments

+++ BREAKING: Freedom, Creativity & the Internet motion passed overwhelmingly

The last morning of conference has a traditional feel to it. Sore-headed delegates drag themselves wearily out of bed, stagger to the nearest coffee emporium, point themselves in the general direction of the conference venue and start walking, hopeful that some residual memory of that first, non-hungover, visit will get them there.

The venue opened at 8.30am and by 9 o’clock the small trickle of Lib Dem activists has turned into a slightly larger trickle.

Whether through abstinence and early night or impressive force of will, some travellers seem a little less weary.

Julian Huppert, one of …

Posted in Conference | 6 Comments

Digital Economy Bill debate: what’s set to happen tomorrow?

The story so far:

  • Emergency motion on the Digital Economy Bill submitted (see full text on Bridget Fox’s blog)
  • Federal Conference Committee treat it fairly generously – as emergency motions do not normally get into the territory of drawing up significant new party policy (because, by their nature, the wording is only published at the last moment and so people have little time to debate over it, draw up alternatives etc.).
  • There are two emergency motions but only a slot to debate one of them – so conference voted this morning on which to debate tomorrow. Digital Economy Bill motion wins that

Posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 3 Comments

+++ BREAKING: Lib Dems to debate Freedom, Creativity and the Internet tomorrow

In a close vote in the conference hall, Lib Dem conference delegates decided to debate “Freedom, Creativity and the Internet” as the single emergency motion to be considered tomorrow.

The alternative NHS motion was narrowly edged out.

Promoters of the Freedom, Creativity and the Internet motion hope that it will send a clear signal of the Lib Dems both understanding and supporting a liberal position on enforcement of copyright laws online.

Posted in Conference and News | 4 Comments

Danny Alexander commits party to seeking further changes to Digital Economy Bill

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat spring conference this morning, Danny Alexander MP (Vice Chair of the Federal Policy Committee and chair of the party’s General Election Manifesto Group) said the party will seek to make further changes to the Digital Economy Bill when it comes to the Commons.

The Bill, currently passing through the Lords, has been the subject of much debate (such as here and here) and yesterday Liberal Democrat peers announced plans to table further amendments to the bill.

This morning Danny Alexander committed the party to supporting further changes to the Digital Economy Bill, saying:

There is

Posted in Conference and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Lib Dem Lords offer concessions on Digital Economy amendments

Following a barage of criticism over amendments to the Digital Economy Bill, the backers of the amendment are to make concessions which, they hope, will answer many of the objections.

As the FT reports :

The Liberal Democrats will publish changes on Friday to their original amendment, of which the Conservatives said they were “broadly supportive”.

Under the new proposals, which will be put to the vote on Monday at the bill’s third reading in the Lords, a judge could order copyright owners to pay legal costs and other compensation for asking a service provider to block

Posted in News | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Nick Clegg’s conference speech: what does it need to do? #ldconf

With the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Birmingham this weekend, Nick Clegg is giving his last conference speech before the general election. Who knows, there may even be two general elections before he gets to give his autumn conference speech…

So what does Nick need to achieve with his Sunday speech?

Conference speeches have two audiences: the external and the internal. For the external one, the job is in the main fairly straightforward: give a speech that has at least one eye-catching section which means it gets more than a nano second of passing media coverage.

The party’s overall messages for the general election …

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‘Save the Net’ emergency motion submitted … now what?

Bridget Fox (PPC Islington South & Finsbury), Julian Huppert (PPC Cambridge) and filmmaker Obhi Chatterjee write:

Several of us have submitted an emergency motion on Freedom, creativity & the internet for the Spring Conference. It concerns an issue which affects the daily lives of almost everyone on which the party appears to have no defined or consistent policy: the internet. A BBC poll shows that 75% of UK adults think access to the internet should be a fundamental right of all people.

Our Parliamentary DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport) Team has been doing a great job tackling the worst …

Posted in Op-eds | 29 Comments

LibLink: James Graham on the Digital Economy Bill

On Comment is Free, James Graham asks:

Have the Liberal Democrats been taken over by the Flat Earth Society?

To find his answer read here.

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