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MP demands government rethink on Digital Economy Act

Calls for repeal of proposed web-blocking laws

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A Liberal Democrat MP is demanding a repeal of the Digital Economy Act having tabled an early day motion in Parliament yesterday, which so far has gained nine signatures from across the political spectrum.

Julian Huppert wants the UK government to debate the issue in the House of Commons. Signatories include Labour MPs Tom Watson and Eric Joyce as well as Tory backbencher Peter Bottomley.

The Lib Dem MP has made similar demands in the past about the DEA Act - which was rushed through the Palace of Westminster during the final days of the previous Labour government.

On this occasion Huppert used the recent report penned by Frank de la Rue entitled 'Special Rapporteur on Free Expression' (pdf) that was issued by the UN Human Rights Council, which highlighted concerns surrounding certain elements detailed in the 2010 Act.

He then goes on to say in the motion that the report recommends to "repeal laws permitting disconnection of users from the internet" and claims "that web censorship should never be delegated to private entities, and that corporations should only act to block and censor with the authority of a judicial process".

Huppert "calls on appropriate Parliamentary Select Committees and the Government to re-examine new website blocking proposals from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the Home Office's Prevent strategy, and in sections 3 to 18 of the Digital Economy Act 2011 in the light of this report".

Late last month BT and TalkTalk sought leave to appeal a ruling on four points relating to their corporate challenge to the Digital Economy Act, after their legal gambit against it failed in April this year.

An attempt by the two telecom companies to derail the copyright infringement portions of the DEA was thrown out by the High Court in London. The judges chucked out the arguments that the provisions designed to clean up their networks were unfair.

BT and TalkTalk were tossed a scrap on a technicality relating to costs. However, nothing else in the DEA would require changing, according to the ruling.

Interestingly, the firms decided not to pursue leave to appeal on the grounds of freedom of expression. ®

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