DEA three strikes rule slammed by early day motion

Cut off

An early day motion has been launched in the House of Commons by an MP against the three strikes element of the Digital Economy Act (DEA).

Julian Huppert, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge and vice chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the DEA, tabled the motion claiming the element of the law allowing ISPs to cut off alleged illegal filesharers would be a "violation of freedom of expression."

Supporting a report by Frank de la Rue, presented to the Human Rights Council of United Nations, the motion proposed laws permitting disconnection of users from the internet should be repealed, web censorship should "never be delegated to private entities" and "corporations should only act to block and censor with the authority of a judicial process."

It has been rejected by those who it will have an impact on, as well as those who must enforce it.

So far 11 MPs have backed the motion, including prominent critic of the Act Tom Watson, but it has also won the support of the Pirate Party UK another regular opponent of the DEA.

"From the outset we have been vocal critics of the Digital Economy Act," wrote Loz Kaye, leader of Pirate Party UK, on his blog.

"The Act was forced through in the dying days of a discredited parliament and survived a judicial review. It has seen popular opposition and objection from business, it has been rejected by those who it will have an impact on as well as those who must enforce it."

He added: "We would urge anyone who opposes this legislation, anyone who values freedom of expression and open access to the Internet to offer their support to these MPs."

However, the Government department responsible for the act the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) is sticking to its guns and claiming the introduction of "technical measures" is a long way off.

"The Government shares the view that access to the Internet is extremely important," a DCMS spokesperson told IT Pro. "However, there are counter-balancing rights, including Intellectual Property, and Government must set the balance in a fair and proportionate way."

There are counter-balancing rights, including Intellectual Property, and Government must set the balance in a fair and proportionate way.

"The Digital Economy Act 2010 does include reserve powers to introduce technical measures to address widespread online infringement of copyright, which might include temporary suspension of accounts."

"However, this is not part of our current plans and could not be introduced until at least a year after the initial obligations are in place, and only then on the basis of clear evidence of need and appropriateness and after close consideration by Parliament."

This is unlikely to silence challengers of the Act, however. The Pirate Party UK has set up a template letter on its website, encouraging supporters to send it on to their MPs and encourage them to back the early day motion.

The DEA had faced a judicial review, launched by BT and Talk, but the ISPs lost their case in April. In May, the two companies confirmed they would appeal the decision and keep on fighting.

Read our feature on how the Digital Economy Act will affect your business here.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.