Digital Economy Bill passed by MPs

The Digital Economy Bill was passed today by 189 votes to 47, after two hours debate in it’s third reading at the House Of Commons and has managed to keep the majority of its original clauses intact.

The Bill received last minute support from the Conservative Party and despite some opposition the Government managed to get Bill vote through with relative ease. However, for final approval the Bill will need to go back to the House of Lords as this is where it originated. Approval is expected to be given as this procedure is a largely viewed as a formality. After this stage the Bill will have completed all of its parliamentary processes and is expected to receive Royal Assent before passing into law.

MPs were criticised for a low turn out to the Bill’s second reading despite strong opposition with over 20,000 voters writing to their MPs in the last seven days to lobby against the Bill being rushed through in its current format.

The Bill controversially seeks to curb online piracy and other major policies, all with the overall aim of stimulating the UK’s digital economy. It has already caused ripples across the technology world, most notably because of its proposals regarding the suspension of repeat filesharers’ internet connections and also the measures that would allow politicians to block pirate websites without primary legislation.

The Government initially removed this proposed clause during previous Parliamentary readings, but have since replaced it with a different amendment allowing the Secretary of State for Business to block any site which “the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright”.

Clause 43 was withdrawn which proposed extending the licensing of orphaned copyrighted works and the Government has abandoned plans to introduce a 50-pence-a-month tax on telephone land lines to help part-fund the build out of a next-generation high-speed broadband network. This clause was dropped from the separate Finance Bill.

Source: The Telegraph

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