"You can be punished for the actions of a friend or even a neighbour who has used your Internet connection." - OpenRightsGroup on the Digital Economy Bill.
"Essentially translating as “We can, via the secretary of state for business, take down any website we don’t like simply by citing a connection to some form of copyright infringement” - Jamie Thompson on the Digital Economy Bill.
The UK is ready to get China-style censorship of the internet, with the forthcoming Digital Economy Act that was voted in against the tens of thousands of wishes expressed by ordinary computer users. A despicable collection of MPs voted in favour of online censorship.
Politicians are a breed of people who have a lowly reputation, wedged somewhere between a orphanage arsonist and a commercial radio DJ. With the shameless expenses scandal, and a national economy so broken not even Cash Converters would accept it, there appears to be no hope for MPs trying to prove they share the same DNA as us.
It's no wonder that over half the population would rather vote on Big Brother or whatever Simon-Cowell-fronted sneer-fest is running at the moment. If you're in the company of friends and mention that you take an interest in politics, you may as well have sprayed concentrated halitosis in their faces.
There's simply no interest in Parliament these days, and I think the MPs rather like that. With the heavily articulate wordings of proposed laws, the endless exchange of statistics and monotone speeches, it's no surprise Joe Sixpack doesn't tune in.
Besides, when have you had a politician actually LISTEN to you? They don't do that, do they?
Recently, the Digital Economy Bill was proposed by the Labour government to impose censorship on UK internet services, all in the name of "reducing piracy". Unsurprisingly, it didn't take long to realise that the bill had been lobbied for by the BPI - the UK's record industry. In fact, large portions of this censorship law had been written by the BPI.
We know the record industry is angered at the millions of MP3s available illegally on the internet, and have pushed an anti-piracy agenda so heavily that they ignore the bigger picture - why piracy occurs in the first place.
Digital files are easy to copy and distribute, they cost almost next-to-nothing, they don't take up physical space and are theoretically infinite in supply. Compared to the physical product (such as a CD or vinyl record), there's a lot of convenience.
Yet the record industries still persist in selling their downloads at equivalent prices to the CD. They get a bigger margin, refusing to pass on any of the cost savings to the consumer.
Let's not forget the record industry tried to ban MP3 players back in 1999, so I don't have sympathy for the wailing dinosaurs. Imagine if they got their way! We know they spent most of the noughties coming up with rival formats, all of them were cumbersome and highly restrictive. No wonder they failed!
However, one small victory for the record industry is that Peter Mandelson recently holidayed with record boss David Geffen. And just by pure "coincidence", Mandelson later decided to put forward a law forcing all UK ISPs to regulate what you look at online, in the interests of copyright.
Those of you who've read this blog will know how I exposed Lily Allen for her copyright-infringement, along with Lily's response to me falling flat on its face.
Well, last week I discovered that Peter Mandelson has followed in Lily's footsteps as a copyright hypocrite. Again, I reported the story to techdirt.com, who are always keen to showcase the "do as I say, not as I do" arrogance of politicians and musicians who insist copyright should be stronger, despite masses of economic studies showing that lighter copyright laws benefit both publishers, creators and consumers alike.
My local MP is Peter Bone from the Conservative Party. In the run up to the Digital Economy Bill being debated (and I use that term loosely), various online compaigns were set up encouraging us to contact our local MP.
Thanks to the wonderful TheyWorkForYou.com website, it's easy to write a letter to Peter Bone. As my friends know, I'm not exactly a fan of the Conservatives, but I did vote Tory in protest at Labour's support of the ongoing illegal and unethical wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. There you have it, I'm admitting to having voted Tory. (Well, in the ward I lived in at the time, it was just Labour vs Conservative, no other options.)
I confess to having not known much about Peter before. I do recall my friend Kat Fiction a few years back, stating her shock at how the Tories prepared an election leaflet for Mr Bone, using the fact he resembled then-England-manager Sven Goran-Eriksson as a positive campaign point.
Oh hang on, there is something quite disturbing about Peter Bone. He opposed the minimum wage, and continues to oppose it. Such was his conviction that Peter Bone paid just 87p-an-hour to one of his workers back in 1995. "The minimum wage would condemn hundreds of thousands to the dole queue", he was quoted as saying.
However, when it comes to Peter Bone employing his wife, he thinks she deserves £40,000 a year.
So, should I have anything to do with this hypocritical charlatan? Something else stirred the memory banks. Drinking buddy Richard Lockwood wrote to to ask why the MP supported the laughable bunkum known as 'homeopathy', which would clearly be a waste of NHS money. The reply he got back from Peter Bone was, er, minimal to say the least.
Still, I felt so strongly about the Digital Economy Bill (and still do), that I decided to write to Peter Bone and see where it would take me. It wouldn't matter if I didn't like the man, what would matter is him speaking against it. After all, a lot of businesses in Wellingborough do depend on an open web to do commerce. I'm affected by any such changes, being a local web-designer, web-programmer and SEO consultant.
A look at Peter Bone's voting record shows some signs of a soul. He wanted an investigation into the Iraq war, voted against the government's draconian 'anti-terror' laws and is heavily against ID cards. Pretty commendable, I have to say.
However, with his stance against gay equal rights, he shows himself up as an embarrassing social dinosaur, no better than the US politicians who denied civil rights for black people. The Conservatives try to position themselves as a modern party, but the homophobia isn't far away.
Still, I announced my intention to write to Peter Bone, urging him to vote against the Digital Economy Bill, and a few of my friends followed my lead. I even got a reply:
One of my key roles as your representative in Parliament is to listen to my constituents and campaign on your behalf - in fact, this is the whole philosophy behind my "Listening to Wellingborough and Rushden" campaign.
You have raised an important issue and I have accordingly forwarded it onto the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport so that the government can fully take your opinions into account. I have also requested a response from the Department and I will, of course, forward on to you any that I may receive.
Sounding very nice indeed. Unfortunately, Peter Bone could not be bothered to turn up to the second reading of the bill. Actually, to be fair, 95% of MPs - our so-called 'public servants' - also could not be bothered to attend this essentially important debate.
And thus, we entered the next step as the technically-illiterate MPs present outnumbered those who actually understood the importance of a free internet for the UK's economy.
Yeah, cheers Peter Bone. Well done for your apathy. Well done for ignoring such an important issue. Obviously sitting in a £15k-a-year rented flat paid for by us taxpayers was a much better option?
I wrote back, airing my disappointments on his lack of action, and my intentions to blog about his failure to represent his constituents' views. His response:
Thank you for your e-mail. You will know that I have one of the best voting
records of any Conservative Member of Parliament and my attendance in the
House of Commons is second to none. You will also know that I fully support
the Conservative Party on the Digital Economy Bill. I am sure you will also
appreciate that sometimes Members of Parliament have to be in their
constituency and not in the Palace of Westminster. Unfortunately, Members
of Parliament are not able to be in two places at once.
With regards to your attack on me for being anti-gay-rights, you are
entitled to your opinion, but it is not correct. You may be interested to
hear that I was recently voted by Liberal Democratic Voice to be one of the
62 most Liberal non-Lib Dem MPs.
The "you are entitled to your opinion" statement is such a poor cop-out. A terrible cliche that is a verbal white flag. It signifies the fear of his old-fashioned views being held up to rationality.
In a similar fashion, he states that he supports the Bill (Conservatives back it) yet will not even dare discuss why he supports it.
I'd like to put it to this pauper-wage-loving technically-illiterate gay-despising taxpayer-money-wasting waste-of-space that he dare not enter into any debate, because he knows he will lose. He's backing whatever the Conservative Party say, because that's his easy career - claiming huge expenses from hard working people, denying them rights, imposing censorship and wishing he could cut their wages to a fraction of what they are.
Naturally, I won't be voting for this knowledge-lacking tosswit, and since his views have been spread via Facebook, other locals agree...
"I'm not voting for that useless twat, who didn't have the honesty to admit, on his first reply that he had no intention of voting against the bill."
"it is HIS JOB to be entitled to MY opinion. So the oily, lazy waste of space can drop dead."
"I've emailed him 6 times. Had 3 responses, two of which were pretty much stock letters and the third was a little more detailed, but boiled down to "I'll be talking to the secretary of state about it". My question was explicitly about his behaviour, nothing to do with the government or anyone else.
Now, my understanding is that an MP is supposed to represent their constituents. Ignoring them is not representation....
I want him gone, unless he learns to
2) Turn up on debates that matter instead of the pointless ones that just bump up his numbers"
"make all the candidates in a constituency work as a waiter in a 'Frankie n Bennys' for a month....whoever gets the most tips in that time obviously has the right work ethic and becomes the MP.....shimples!!"
"if they could be in two places at once they'd be claiming expenses for both"
To conclude, I've just realised why Peter Bone is in favour of a law that censors the web.