Email to my MP Jim Dowd about the Digital Economy Bill

[I wrote to Jim before, but didn’t post it here. Anyway, here’s the follow up that I just sent him.]

Hi Jim,

just a quick note ahead of tomorrow’s debate to express again my fear that highly contentious and misunderstood elements of the Digital Economy Bill will get pushed through in the wash-up. I was most grateful to receive your message that you don’t think the majorly contested parts of the bill will get pushed through in the wash-up, but I’m seeing a lot of reports elsewhere that suggest that that is still a possibility.

I honestly can’t stress enough just how much a much wider discussion is needed, for everyone to fully understand the specific and unhelpful vested interests at work in the parts of the bill that were drawn up by the BPI, and the consequences- foreseen and unforeseen – for those of us who work in the digital sector. To not pursue the discussion/consultation to the point where those making the decision were more fully versed in the culture it impacts and the consquences of their decision would be deeply undemocratic, and would certainly impact on my decision about which way to vote at the next election.

As a natural and life-long socialist, I really want to feel at home in the Labour party. Many things have caused me to feel increasingly disenfranchised from the party I grew up rooting for in opposition, the party whose transition to government in ’97 I saw as a huge victory for ordinary people, poor people, the people who’d been crapped on by the tories for so many years. Since then, the transition of the Labour party from the party of the people, the party of workers, of the masses, to being a party open to the kind of insane lobbying that the BPI are responsible for in this instance has depressed me greatly and – along with my gross objection to the Illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq – has lead to me looking for a political home elsewhere, but finding none.

I’d love to see the Labour party move away from its recent big business bed-hopping, and become once again the democratic voice of the people it claims to represent.

The Digital Britain report contained a whole load of wonderful suggestions re: digital inclusion, digital education and the use if internet-based communication technologies to re-enfranchise parts of the population that have been increasingly distanced from much of mainstream civic life. Most if not all of the digital inclusion aims will be damaged and perhaps rendered impossible by the various effects of the Digital Economy Bill, all in order to protect an industry that was never a support to Britain’s artists and musicians, and has utterly failed to capitalise on the massive benefits and advantages brought about by the very technologies this bill seeks to strangulate.

…Not to mention the parts of it that will cost millions to implement before the Government and ISPs discover that hackers and clever internet people will be able to work around it anyway, losing all the vital and useful currently available metadata that we have via the public search sites that track metadata relating to music shared and played online.

Thanks for reading,

Steve Lawson

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