Digital Economy Bill moves to the House of Lords

The House of Commons has passed the controversial bill without a vote

The Digital Economy Bill has been passed by the House of Commons without a vote, leaving only the House of Lords to decided if it will become law.

The controversial bill, if it passes through the upper house, would mean porn websites considered inappropriate by the government will be blocked without a warning, with ISPs forced to pay a fine if they don't implement the restriction. The government would also have the power to add more content types to the list of banned material without consultation.

Part of the legislation also gives the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which typically issues age classifications to films, responsibility to decide wich sites ISPs must block, even if they don't have pornographic material, but other content that could be viewed as inappropriate.

"The requirement to block websites would apply to all sites in the UK and overseas," the BBFC said. "Where websites originate in the EU the process will be compatible with country of origin rules."

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However, there's been a huge amount of criticism about the bill, particularly from ISPs who think the legislation could have a negative impact on their business.

"The government previously said web blocking is a policy that is disproportionate', that technical measures can be easily circumvented and legal content could be blocked my mistake, so we are concerned and disappointed it has gone down this path," the Internet Service Providers Association said in a statement.

"This change in direction has been agreed without any consultation, with no assessment of costs nor is there any certainty that it will comply with judicial rulings on interference with fundamental rights."

The Open Rights Group has also opposed the plans, saying that although it supports the prevention of children from accessing websites that present inappropriate content, it's not as simple as blocking the offending websites.

"We believe the aim of restricting children's access to inappropriate material is a reasonable one. However, placing age verification requirements on adults to access legal material throws up a number of concerns which are not easily resolved," the Open Rights Group added.

"Our concerns include whether these proposals will work, the impact on privacy and freedom of expression, and how pornography is defined."

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