The past, present and future of the Digital Economy Bill

We take an in-depth look at how the Digital Economy Bill has progressed so far and where it can go from here.

Some of the biggest internet players Facebook, eBay, Yahoo and Google wrote a letter to Lord Mandelson claiming the clause risks "stifling innovation and damaging the Government's vision for a Digital Britain."

In January, a document was released by Parliament outlining proposals for 299 amendments to the bill, including a Conservative peer calling for search engines to be exempt from the altered copyright law so they could show copies and content of websites without being liable.

A spokesperson from the Government confirmed the vast majority of these changes were not included into the draft legislation.

The arguments continued to hot up in the first month of 2010 with outspoken ISP TalkTalk not only condemning the filesharing plans themselves but organising an event. The Open Rights Group and Liberty also damned the Government's approach to the problem.

Another area of the public sector raised concerns when educators from libraries, universities and schools asked that they became exempt for the bill, followed just four days later by the Human Rights Joint Select Committee stating the bill may actually pose a risk to human rights by cutting the access of millions of people from the internet.

Amended Bill

A spokesperson from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills headed up by Lord Mandelson told IT PRO that only "fairly minor changes" had been made to the bill. However, he did point out that there was "a lot more time to debate the pro and cons to go" so many more amendments could be made before the final draft of the bill gets passed.

Since then, MPs from the same department slammed the broadband tax element of the bill the proposed 50 pence a month levy on landlines to pay for a 2Mbps broadband rollout for all calling it "regressive" and "poorly targeted," bringing doubt on the support of Mandelson's bill from his own party.

A Government response to an e-petition on the Number 10 website defended its proposed "technical measures," including what they claimed to be a "last resort" of suspending a user's internet connection, but refused to admit this would be a disconnection.

The Open Rights Group has in turn accused the statement of trying to confuse people with the "Government's semantics," but the bill's protectors still don't look like budging.

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