Following Up for the Week Ending 3/28/2010

Digital Economy Bill to Be Rushed Through without Debate

Mike Masnick at Techdirt was one of many to note the bad news. As the Guardian article he links to explains, the minimal wash up period that is all the bill will get before elections doesn’t allow for further debate and while the bill can be changed, those can only be in the form of deletions. This is all the more troubling as it is happening in the face of a large quantity of protest, both live and in the form of letters and petitions.

There is still a chance that public action has persuaded enough representatives to vote against the bill but with an election pending, that is far from certain. It would have been far better, clearly, to reach a compromise before this make or break moment.

Lords Pass DEB, Attempt Bums Rush through Commons

Cory has more details at Boing Boing on the Digital Economy Bill’s passage through the House of Lords and the attempt to rush it through the House of Commons with minimal discussion. He also shares another rallying cry, from 38degrees, including another template you can use to write your MP. All that is being sought is to slow down the bill, to give everyone a chance to continue the discussion.

For context: Labour cancelled its anti-fox-hunt legislation because there wasn’t time for proper debate, but they’re ramming through this copyright bill even though it’s far more important and far-reaching — for one thing, a broken UK Internet will make it harder for people who care about fox hunts one way or the other to organise and lobby on the issue.

This is an old tactic, trying to force passage at odd hours. It almost always comes into play when public discourse makes it clear there will be no solid consensus. However that is the very purpose of democratic debate, to expose reasonable objections and push for better compromises.

Take a moment to read John Timmer’s clear and concise history at Ars Technica of the bill to date and then if you live in the UK, act. Write or call your MP and don’t let the democratic process be subverted entirely by big content.

Dan Bull’s Latest Protest Piece

Open Rights Group shared Dan Bull’s latest brilliant protest effort.

It is a bit over the top though I think it really has to be in order to cut through the nonsensical, panicked rhetoric being shouted by the other side, by big content. In satirical form it skewers the notion that these panics are ever right or the problems that they exaggerate are ever as bad as they make out.

Another reason for folks like Dan Bull to really crank up the dial on the message is that pressure to pass the Digital Economy Bill is mounting. As Cory explained on Boing Boing over the weekend, the head of BPI has an aggressive plan to break copyright. It is clear from every aspect of this leaked message there is a concerted effort to ram the bill down Britain’s throat. Mollet discounts public opposition for lack of a ground swell of support–he gives more weight to the conflict between national security interests and big content’s goals.

Dan Bull’s video is one bright point amongst the opposing voices. ORG is a chorus, and Simon Phipps, among others, weighs in with a few choice thoughts and the letter he sent his MP which he offers up as a model for your own correspondence.

Now is more critical than ever to let your voice be heard. ORG points out the window for public debate is closing, as slim as that window may have been, a mere two hours worth. MPs will be seeking the support of their constituents so write them, let them know that Mollet and the other DEB supporters are wrong, that there is considerable public opposition to this horrid bundle of policy.

Following Up for the Week Ending 3/14/2010

TCLP 2010-03-07 News

This is news cast 208, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, a huge thank you to Chris Miller for his ongoing donation. Also inspired by my latest appearance on The Secret Lair to discuss free content and supporting artists, some brief thoughts on my own views towards the show and earning something from it.

This week’s security alerts are a several OpenSSL flaw and research on statistical attacks on security questions. I recommend treating security answers where they are required like passwords, storing them in a password vault and securely, randomly generating them.

In this week’s news a fan sequel to King’s Quest is shutting down (the original publisher playing a large role in Steven Levy’s “Hackers” which I reviewed previously), a hearing was schedule last week to discuss internet freedom abroad including circumvention though we might do well to apply the same standards at home, two storied about plugless brain-computer interfaces with a compelling first hand account of one, and Google search index to go real time.

Following up this week the USTR responds to Senator Wyden’s letter about ACTA with some good analysis and the problems with a revised censorship amendment to the DEB that now targets weblockers.


Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Following Up for the Week Ending 3/7/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 2/28/2010

Is Three Strikes Being Abandoned in the UK?

Jolie O’Dell at ReadWriteWeb is one of many sources reporting that subscriber disconnection by ISPs on accusation of infringement no longer be part of the implementation of the Digital Economy Bill. The basis for thinking this is so is the response by Downing Street to a petition circulated by the ISP, TalkTalk.

The Register points out you have to read the statement on the Number10 much more closely.

The Bill would require ISPs to write to their customers whose accounts had been identified by a rights holder as having been used for illegal down loading of their material. In the cases of the most serious infringers, if a rights holder obtains a court order, the ISP would have to provide information so that the rights holder can take targeted court action.

We hope these arrangements on their own will secure our aim of a 70% reduction in illegal peer to peer file sharing. If that proves not to be the case, the Bill provides a reserve power obliging an ISP to apply ‘technical measures’ to a customer’s internet account to restrict or prevent illegal sharing. Technical measures might be a band width restriction, a daily downloading limit or, as a last resort, temporary account suspension. A proper independent appeal would be available against application of technical measures.

If I am reading this correctly, the plan is for a notice, followed up by increasingly stiffer measures. The language around those is incredibly fuzzy but I can almost guarantee the effect will be the same. I suspect if the bill is passed with language along these lines, we’ll see court cases between rights holders and ISPs trying to force the issue of “technical measures”.

There is just too little detail for me to believe this is much of an improvement. What exactly will be a “proper independent appeal”? Means for re-dressing false claims has been a sore point with precursors of the Digital Economy Bill and this doesn’t appear like it would do much better.

It is also interesting to note that the only mention of judicial interaction is for procuring subscriber data for “targeted court action”. No mention of a court order required for technical measures. It is surprising given how carefully crafted this message is to address, and potentially deflate, very specific concerns that there is nothing that would ease fears of guilt on accusation. Is it that hard to understand that we need oversight for that part of the process even more than the well trod ground of securing subscriber data?

Following Up for the Week Ending 2/21/2010