Tories push Digital Economy Bill through to second reading

The Digital Economy Bill is on track to become law after the Conservatives buckled and offered the legislation their support during its second reading.

However the Lib Dems have called the move “totally inappropiate” claiming pieces in the Bill such as illegal file-sharing need more consideration.

The controversial bill, which  would also allow copyright-infringing websites to be blocked, was going to be delayed until after the election.

However, during a debate yesterday Tory shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt bowed down and said the party would support the legislation, meaning the bill could be rushed through before the general election next month.  

“There are parts of the bill that we will reluctantly let through. Digital piracy is a very real problem for our creative industries, and we do accept that action needs to be taken to ensure the internet is a functioning marketplace and that copyright infringers do not get away with their actions scot free,” he said.

But it’s all a little bit too much too soon for the Lib Dems. Don Foster MP, Lib Dem Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, told TechEye: “It is totally inappropriate for a Bill as important as this to be given so little time for debate in the House of Commons.
“We want to do all that we can to support our creative industries and believe that action needs to be taken to tackle illegal file-sharing. However we remain unconvinced that technical measures are the best way to do this and are concerned that not enough safeguards currently exist within the legislation.”

Labour has gone someway to ease the blow with Harriet Harman, the leader of the Commons, claiming that controversial elements of the bill, which grants rights-holders the power to force ISPs to block websites hosting pirated content, would be opened to further Parliamentary scrutiny and public debate, but whether that happens remains to be seen.