Government must scrutinise "web blocking" law - Huppert

July 28, 2010 11:14 AM

Julian HuppertA law forced through in the last days of the Labour government which could lead to web blocking, must be scrutinized by the government, Cambridge MP Julian Huppert told Parliament.

Julian believes that sections of the Digital Economy Act deny freedom of expression, competition, innovation and could lead to an abuse of civil liberties.

They alter UK copyright law in a way which allows the courts to order the blocking of websites following legal action by rights-holders, or the removal of internet access.

Julian fears they could even be illegal under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and other EU law.

Julian raised the issue in a question to Parliamentary Under Secretary for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Edward Vaizey.

He asked what recent representations Mr Vaizey had received on sections 9 to 18 of the Act and where he was aware of the deep concerns among internet service providers such as BT and TalkTalk and members of the public.

"Given that the Act was rushed through in the dying days of the last government, will he ensure that there is proper scrutiny of not just the details but the principle of those sections which many of us oppose?" he said.

Mr Vaizey said that ministers and officials had had meetings with copyright owners, consumer organisations and internet service providers at which the matter had been raised.

He emphasized that the technical measures laid down in these sections of the Act would not come into force until at least 2012 and the House would have a chance to debate the matter in full.

Thousands of people joined a campaign earlier this year led by the Lib Dems against the restrictions of the Act on the social networking site, Facebook.

After raising the issue in Parliament, Julian said: "This is another example of Big Brother tactics. These sections of the Act are restrictive, oppressive and controlling. They deny freedom of expression, could stifle innovation and kill off competition. This is not acceptable in a free and fair society."

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