The Digital Economy Bill, currently being debated in the House of Lords, would give the Government the power to disconnect people from the internet if copyright files are downloaded without permission. The Government, heavily lobbied by the music industry, seems convinced that's the way to stop illicit file sharing and downloading of music. What's certain is that entire families could be be disconnected if only one member (or lodger or guest) is accused of illegal downloading.
The bill doesn't acknowledge that account holder and infringer can be different people. That's the problem. The account holder will be liable for any infringement, whether he or she has infringed or not. That means that a whole family is punished because of the action of one person. This person can be anyone using their internet: a family member, a guest visiting, a lodger or a neighbour using their open wifi.
A lot of people need the internet for work or depend on if for their eduction. The Government has encouraged that and has pledged to connect citizens to the web, not disconnect them.
Gordon Brown said last year that "the internet is as vital as water and gas". Would he then consider cutting off people's water supply if their kids had shoplifted?
Disconnection is collective punishment. It is unacceptable. It is unfair and it is disproportionate.
What can you do?
1) Ask your MP to help remove the disconnection from the bill. Contact your MP now!
2) Write to your local paper and let people know that disconnection is wrong.
3) Sign up with the Open Rights Group to support our work.