Digital Economy Bill will financially penalise the poor

Peers in the House of Lords continue to express concerns about the Digital Economy Bill, which is receiving its third reading. But the government has said there’s enough protection for people already.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer chipped in to the third reading yesterday to say that the disquiets she had at the second reading of the Bill had “not been dissipated”.

She said that the House of Lords is usually assiduous “in making sure that due process is seen to be done in Bills”.  But that’s not happening with the Digital Economy Bill, she said.

She said the fact that peers weren’t being allowed to debate on Amendment 6 “reflects poorly on the government”.

While she upheld that creative industries needed protection, she said there weren’t enough checks and balances to protect people.

“In particular, when a person, an institution, an internet cafe or a university is accused of transgressing these rules, it will hit the individual very hard. How will they disprove the accustations? They will have to employ a computer expert to counter the argument but there will not be legal aid for this,” she said.  People needed to be protected better, she added.

And there’s more, the House of Commons won’t be able to come to a conclusion about this either because MPs will only get a second reading.

Government minister Lord Young of Norwood Green rejected these arguments. He said: “It is untrue that the government are backing protectionism as opposed to innovation.”  There were sufficient safefuards in place, said the good lord.