My Letter to Lords Razzal and Clement-Jones #debill

Written because I get just as angry when Lib Dems act in illiberal and undemocratic ways as when anyone else does…

I am writing, as a longtime member of the Liberal Democrats (and someone whose wife is employed by the party) to ask you to reconsider your amendment to the Digital Economy Bill.

This bill, even as it stands, is a significant threat to liberty (and is in my view opposed to everything our party is meant to stand for), but your amendment would make it significantly worse. The wording is broad enough that it could, for example, lead to, say, the site being made inaccessible – many blogs on that site host copyrighted material, but a far larger number, the overwhelming majority, are devoted to entirely innocent or even beneficial material.

At the moment, the majority of the most popular uses of the internet are for so-called ‘user-generated content’ – sites like Facebook, or YouTube, or Twitter, or blog sites. All of these would be affected by your amendment, and would quite likely have to shut down.

As with any prohibitionist measure, this will not even have the intended effect. It will drive such sharing underground, but not stamp it out – I can right now think of half a dozen ways in which already-existing technology could circumvent such bans for anyone who was sufficiently motivated – while making it significantly more difficult for anyone who wants to use those sites for their intended, legitimate, purposes.

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