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Lib Dem Leader Clegg Calls for Repeal of Digital Economy Act

Gordon Kelly by

Lib Dem Leader Clegg Calls for Repeal of Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act is something we've covered very closely on TR and with good reason: we believe it is a horrendously misjudged and ill-thought out piece of legislation which places British citizens under severe and flawed scrutiny and further damages the credibility of both copyright holders and government officials. So could this be the first chink of light?

Still riding high from his impressive showing in the country's first ever Prime Ministerial Debate (admittedly easier when 1. he had no recent party parliamentary record to defend and 2. Cameron and Brown went relatively easy on him in case of a hung parliament), Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he wants the Digital Economy Act repealed.

Speaking to university student communal website The Student Room, Clegg was asked:

Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?

He replied: "We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

I'd say there's little to argue with there and in fairness, the Liberal Dems did largely oppose the Digital Economy Bill in the first place. They also managed to have a clause inserted into the Bill (which has now become law) that no "technical measure" (read: cutting off Internet connections) can be introduced for a minimum of 12 months. Furthermore such action cannot be rubberstamped without further analysis and consultation.

Ultimately, given the waves of abuse which have met the #debill (as it is known on Twitter), this is a strong position for the party to find itself. Furthermore, while it is unlikely to win the election, it is likely to hold a key role influencing policy should there be either a) a hung parliament, or b) a narrow victory for either Labour or the Conservatives.

Furthermore, since exploits such as the Seedf**ker hack have shown the potential to run rings around copyright holders, coupled with threats from hackers that they will make an example of MPs by hijacking their home WiFi to download illegal content, it is a stance which at least one party needed to take.

Lastly, with two more Prime Ministerial Debates still to be held and the Digital Economy Act set to be a topic on at least one of them there's hope yet people...


via The Student Room

Go to comments

b o d

April 16, 2010, 6:45 pm


Whilst lib dem managed to oppose the bill more than the conservatives, only 18 of their 62 mps bothered to vote. Nick Clegg was among those who chose not to vote.

Also although he states that it badly need to be repealed, he doesn't say that they would pursue any motions to actually repeal the bill. Sounds more like just telling a university crowd whqat they want to hear.

Sorry to come over a little political on a tech site.


April 16, 2010, 6:46 pm

Mr Clegg is on a role! First the debate, and now attacking my current pet hate the Digital Economy Act! He's got my vote, of course in my constituency the incumbent Tory was elected with 80% of the vote, so I dont hold out much hope for a swing.


April 16, 2010, 7:05 pm

I think Mr Clegg is on a sausage roll. ;)


April 16, 2010, 7:09 pm

@b_o_d it's a fair point, but at least it's a start!

Andy Vandervell

April 16, 2010, 7:34 pm

Interesting stuff, but given the minute number of MPs that bothered to vote on it, it was well within Lib Dems' power to block had enough of them turned up. Did Clegg vote? I don't recall seeing him, but I could be mistaken...


April 16, 2010, 7:54 pm

@Andy - he didn't vote. Which is better than voting yes, but substantially worse than following through the Lib Dems protests with a definitive no vote. Ultimately I suspect the Lib Dems have watched reaction to the Digital Economy Bill, seen just how unpopular it is and realised they are the only party with the wriggle room to speak out against it.

Whether such spin is what is required to get the DEB repealed or not I don't really care, as long as it is.


April 16, 2010, 7:58 pm

Just because he did not turn up does not mean he did not vote. MP's usually pair up so both don't have to be present.


April 16, 2010, 8:28 pm

@LetsGo - he didn't vote: http://www.theyworkforthebpi.c...


April 16, 2010, 8:33 pm

@Gordon, i don't think that you understand LetsGo. MPs are lazy and have this strange system where if one of them WOULD vote no and another WOULD vote yes, they both agree not to vote at all, as the result is the same. As i say, very lazy and not really "leading by example". And also proves that they don't really care that much about the DEB/DEA.


April 16, 2010, 8:35 pm

@Gordon, that's not what LetsGo said. A lot of MPs will pair up, on the knowledge that one "Aye" is cancelled out by one "Nay", so an MP who intends to vote "Aye" will find an MP who wants to vote "Nay" and both of them will not vote at all, which achieves the same end result as it is the majority that counts, which is completely unaffected.


April 16, 2010, 8:35 pm

Um, didn't the LibDems try to insert that clause about blocking sites?

Also, everyone else here seen the US government report rubbishing piracy statistics?


April 16, 2010, 9:52 pm

@all - fair points. Could well be.


April 16, 2010, 10:37 pm

drdark: I believe it was two individual Lib Dems acting on their own initiative (or hopefully on their own initiative rather than that of lobbyists or other vested interests). It was not a policy determined by the party leadership. Still, I hope the people in those two MP's constituencies remember their actions when casting their vote.


April 16, 2010, 11:36 pm

First thing to note is that those who campaigned for the DE bill don't understand the piracy issue so how the hell can you expect the MPs to understand it? As one commenter said in the earlier discussion his MP mistook IP address for Intellectual Property Address!!!

So why not try to preach to and educate the unconverted. Try and write in a professional manner to your MP (after the election). Arrange a meeting at the MP's surgery. If it is a group of you all the better (will show more irate voters), sensibly the group leader does the speaking (otherwise it will descend into shambles and achieve nothing and may be the opposite), means you are likely to be taken more seriously. Even better go round the town centre and/or knock on doors and get petition signed up and take that to your MP. Target the signers: If you are talking to parents then tell them what the Bill will mean to them and a potential criminal record for their kid(s). Thus the effect of it on their child's future career/prospects!! Also remember children's pester power over their parents. Better still give them the web address (see earlier discussions) where they can e-mail a prepared letter to their MP.

I think you will find the LibDems and Mr Tom Watson, Labour, your best allies. As for the prospects of the LibDems becoming a Government, look back at the post WW-II election when Labour trounced the Churchill's Tories and other such elections. After all what have you got to lose? By not getting the LibDems elected you are left with what you already have. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

We are all for them targeting the pirates but not the domestic customers. Otherwise it is a licence for the unprincipled Lawyers and their equally unprincipled clients to make money by menaces.


April 17, 2010, 12:06 am

He's not my ideal choice for Lib Dem leader (I still wish Kennedy was in the running) but I've always admired Clegg's ability to convey a sense of public anger. Last night just meant that without everyone in the Commons screaming over the top of him, we could actually hear what he had to say. And who cares what their motivations are - if they're leading a similarly angry charge to repeal this hideous bill then more power to them.


April 17, 2010, 1:09 am

I agree with Nick...


April 17, 2010, 2:32 am

Hmm, interesting. Maybe it really is time for a real 'change'...for better or worse.

Apparently, it's as good as a holiday :)


April 17, 2010, 2:02 pm

Only 3 words are needed:

He's a politician.


April 17, 2010, 8:05 pm

Why is it when an MP of any 'colour' suggests something radical, I first wonder how the have answered their own question; "what's in it for me?". In this case, one could easily be cynical and say 'popularity amongst a certain voting group with a potential' - in an election run up.

I suppose what I SHOULD be saying is.. well at least someone has pushed their head out of the cow sh1t ( you know that warm comfortable place where expenses and and a 'fat' life pervade) and shouted "unfair" . Perhaps I had (stupidly) hoped a sense of social duty and wanting to ensure equitable and fair law in the first place. But then, silly boy, politics is no longer about representation of the people. I guess we get what we created and parliament is about as real as Avatar....

I live in hope.....and perhaps a true change and shake up of the cronie politics we have is warranted by letting Mr Clegg have a go... Given the last 25 years what have we got to loose! (eg Thatcher, Blair, Brown)

I read somewhere that when general economic prosperity is graphed against political colour over time, the result was no overall discernible correlation.

Go for it Nick....


April 17, 2010, 8:44 pm

What I don't understand is if the 'piracy' is such big problem why is there not a big campaign on the net (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc)? After all other campaigns on these media have proved very effective. After all the supposed demographics of the 'pirates' are also users of this media and any campaign on there would be powerful indeed. Kids may not be able to vote but they certainly could influence those who do vote (parents, grand parents, etc)!

Pirates, pirates... everywhere! How often have we seen this sort?:

OFT faces challenge to £225m price-fixing ruling: http://business.timesonline.co...

$1bn fraud charge for Goldman Sachs: http://business.timesonline.co...

As for having a LibDem Government as someone who is apolitical the Tories are the last party you want to vote for. Very briefly Mr Cameron was the Advisor to Mr Norman Lamont, Chancellor when the Black Wednesday and ERM happened: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisda... - 15% interest rates followed by record house repossessions, negative equity and 10 years of recession etc etc.

Oh Mr Cameron was a Banker! Do you want a Banker running the country? Here's more evidence that Mr Cameron was a banker: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... - Does his Oxford constituency (2nd) home, mortgage paid for by taxpayers, really need to be that big to carry out MPs business?

As for Labour do I really need to say it?


April 18, 2010, 6:12 pm

I wrote to my MP and found they did not vote because of "family commitments". What is the voting procedure for bills like this? Surely there would have been a way to vote by proxy? Being such an important bill, am I likely to get a honest response if I ask my MP "If you had voted, which way would you have voted?"

Imagine if there had been a public transport strike, and nobody save one mp was able to get to parliament. It is actually possible for a bill to get passed by say, 1 vote to 0?


April 19, 2010, 4:34 am

I am afraid the MPs are literally a law unto themselves. Indeed that is the defence being argued by the three Labour MPs and a Conservative Peer being prosecuted for alleged fraudulent expenses claims. Constituents have no means to complain about their MPs for bad service, like ignoring a constituent's request for help, or anything else. As has already been shown NO ONE can even get rid of bad MP. However, they do have a rule another MP will not help another MP's constituent!

Here's an example of two MPs (Mr Gerald Howarth, MP (Conservative) for Aldershot, Hants and Shadow Defence Minister, and Mr Michael Howard, Folkestone and Hythe, former Leader of the Conservative party) proving that not even most worthy can expect help from their MP! In this case the Gurkhas ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... ), formerly based at Aldershot and latterly at Folkestone and Hythe, failed to receive support as exemplified by the EDM 1194 ( http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi... ) and continue to be denied that support by their MPs ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... ).

Despite the expenses scandal what have they done? Fiddled around with the rules governing the expenses supposedly by an independent scrutineer.

The DE law is not the only flawed law passed. Remember the case where a granny who was convicted for assault for poking with a finger a troublesome kid!

Philip Angell

April 19, 2010, 3:40 pm

So, apparently, Gordon Brown has "...learnt from that. So you don't listen to the industry when they say, 'This is good for us'. You've got to talk about the whole public interest."



April 21, 2010, 5:55 pm

The Digital Economy Act will make each and every British citizen nothing more than litigation fodder. The BPI have already publicly announced that they will resume suing people en mass:


Also, wait until our friends across the pond jump in on the "act" (pardon the pun). There is an army of American law firms waiting to unleash a wave of litigation on UK citizens. Let's face it - most of the stuff British kids are downloading is American films and music (you just have to look at the most popular downloads on any P2P website). Billions will be siphoned out of the British economy every year, and it will mostly be parents with teenage kids who are hit hardest (parents who have already been hit hard by the recession).

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