Feeds

Web blocking powers return

Digital Economy Bill gets another do-over

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Mandybill The government has been circulating revised web-blocking powers for the Digital Economy Bill with industry and activist groups, and The Register has seen a draft. This version is believed to have won the backing of the Tories, and could end up in a Second Reading.

The revised Clause 18 we've seen is a hybrid of the earlier Clause 17 (which was defeated) and its successor, the Tory/Lib-Dem Clause 18 (which was withdrawn). Ben Bradshaw's latest draft gives the Secretary of State the power to allow Courts to grant injunctions against service providers compelling them to block "internet locations" - but only after a Parliamentary vote, and with a lot of conditions to be met.

These may not satisfy the rights holders, as it limits the scope of a possible injunction to one or two circumstances. The original BPI proposal, which you first read about here in January, looked a lot more like the US-style DMCA, which places the presumption of guilt on the service provider, and can result in large chunks of the internet disappearing based on one simple form. (See Record labels seek DMCA-style UK takedowns). And of course, it's hugely uncertain whether the revised Clause will survive Wash Up.

Music business sources tell us that the most important part of the bill remains the technical measures against serial file sharers, introducing some element of risk to downloading, which today is largely risk-free. They'd like to see something in what's called the 'Rapidshare' clause, but it's not the clincher.

What's in the new Clause

Under the new Clause 18, the Minister of the day and Courts would have to satisfy a long list of qualifications. The former would be obliged to consult widely during a 60-day consultation period, and then throw the proposals open to Parliamentary debate and scrutiny, and finally a vote.

The injunctions would only apply to sites where most of the material was infringing, and the court would have to consider steps taken to remove infringing material, the impact on "Freedom of expression", and the proportion of the effect of the block on the business or individual. Courts couldn't order costs against the service provider, while copyright holders would also have to demonstrate that they'd provided lawful access to the material that's the subject of their infringement complaint.

Hollywood and the record companies are unlikely to be happy with that - since the hottest torrents at any time are frequently pre-release films or albums. And these, by definition, haven't yet been lawfully released.

(And that's the problem with such laws: regulations sprout clauses and subclauses and qualifications and breed exponentially.)

The get-outs cover innocent or accidental infringers, publishers and the news media, and even sites like YouTube, since owner Google takes steps to remove infringing material, after a fashion.

The draft was circulated to various parties earlier this week, including the Open Rights Group, but it declined to share this exciting new development with its supporters. So we're publishing the full draft clause overleaf.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.