Repeal Digital Economy Act

While I agree that there should be *some* measures taken to limit or punish those who use the internet to steal, I feel that the current bill is highly flawed and has removed civil liberties that should remain, even if a household is caught.

As it stands, the Digital Economy Bill is too broad. It targets the bill payer of the family instead of the individual culprits. As a family is composed of many differing age groups and incomes, all using the same wireless or wired internet, it shouldn't be right that a mother, who does not use the internet, is punished because her son downloads an album illegally. 

There is also an issue that there is currently no way to go to trial over these allegations. As I understand the bill, you receive a letter from your ISP (internet service provider) saying you've been caught and either have to pay a fine or lose your connection. There seems to be no way to have a fair trial on these allegations, which is unrealistic, as many peer-to-peer sharing or torrenting CAN be used for legal practices, such as sharing large amounts of data through a business. However, they may flag up as illegal sharing and lead whole families into bankruptcy. 

Instead, Government should focus on educating the youth and fair warning systems. This would allow the parents to talk to their children if their household is warned.

I also feel that there should be technological experts on hand to give fully educated guidance to government, as there has been a lack of understanding in how the Internet works from both the House of Lords and House of Commons whenever the issue of the Internet has been raised. 

Why is this idea important?

While I agree that there should be *some* measures taken to limit or punish those who use the internet to steal, I feel that the current bill is highly flawed and has removed civil liberties that should remain, even if a household is caught.

As it stands, the Digital Economy Bill is too broad. It targets the bill payer of the family instead of the individual culprits. As a family is composed of many differing age groups and incomes, all using the same wireless or wired internet, it shouldn't be right that a mother, who does not use the internet, is punished because her son downloads an album illegally. 

There is also an issue that there is currently no way to go to trial over these allegations. As I understand the bill, you receive a letter from your ISP (internet service provider) saying you've been caught and either have to pay a fine or lose your connection. There seems to be no way to have a fair trial on these allegations, which is unrealistic, as many peer-to-peer sharing or torrenting CAN be used for legal practices, such as sharing large amounts of data through a business. However, they may flag up as illegal sharing and lead whole families into bankruptcy. 

Instead, Government should focus on educating the youth and fair warning systems. This would allow the parents to talk to their children if their household is warned.

I also feel that there should be technological experts on hand to give fully educated guidance to government, as there has been a lack of understanding in how the Internet works from both the House of Lords and House of Commons whenever the issue of the Internet has been raised. 

Replace Internet Watch Foundation

The Internet Watch Foundation deals with obscuring and hiding internet 'nasties' such as Child porn and terrorism. It should be replaced with a politically independent oversight committee made up of differing views and beliefs.

Why is this idea important?

The Internet Watch Foundation deals with obscuring and hiding internet 'nasties' such as Child porn and terrorism. It should be replaced with a politically independent oversight committee made up of differing views and beliefs.

Prevent foreign software companies monitoring computer programs

Scrolling through the licence agreement for a piece of software pre-installed on my new BlackBerry, I was appalled to find that the software company was telling me that I could not use it unless I agreed to monitoring.

The software company monitors usage to ensure that users comply with US law.

Why is this idea important?

Scrolling through the licence agreement for a piece of software pre-installed on my new BlackBerry, I was appalled to find that the software company was telling me that I could not use it unless I agreed to monitoring.

The software company monitors usage to ensure that users comply with US law.

Repeal Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act was brought into force as one of the last acts of the outgoing Labour government, with the support of the Tories and against the wishes of the LibDems. This undemocratically enacted act must be repealed and the parliament must be given a proper debate about its future.

Why is this idea important?

The Digital Economy Act was brought into force as one of the last acts of the outgoing Labour government, with the support of the Tories and against the wishes of the LibDems. This undemocratically enacted act must be repealed and the parliament must be given a proper debate about its future.

Rude words on the internet

On 12 March it was widely reported that a magistrates court in Wrexham convicted and fined one Darren Mattox for posting a message about his former girlfriend on Facebook.  Apparently he had called her by an offensive name. 

He was prosecuted for having done so under section 127 of the Communications Act, which makes it an offence to send "by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".  This is an odd provision.  It is a legacy of the old Post Office Acts and has lurked, little used, in the bowels of communications legislation for 75 years.  It does not apply to anything in the nature of a programme service, which is regulated under broadcasting law and, more recently, under provisions implementing the European AVMS Directive.  But thanks to the ingenuity of the prosecuting authorities in Wrexham, a new dimension in Internet regulation in the UK has been opened up.  Sending anything that falls within the scope of the section otherwise than as a programme service is a criminal offence.

 There is room for more than one view about calling ex-girlfriends names but since the offence is also committed by sending something which is merely indecent, there are serious consequences for anyone sending content for posting on a social network or otherwise.  

 The threshold of indecency is lower than the standard that applies to most programme services.  Under the AVMS Directive, for example, which introduces content regulation to on-demand services, all that is prohibited so far as adult material is that, where a service contains material which might seriously impair their development, children and young people will not normally see it.  So it can be included so long as it is PIN-protected, for example.  Section 127 goes much further.  Anyone uploading anything even faintly prurient to a social networking or other site may find themselve being prosecuted.  To put it another way, content regulation on the Internet does not stop at the boundaries of the AVMS Directive.  On the contrary, it gets more stringent.  Section 127 prohibits, for example, the uploading by means of a public telecommunication system (such as a standard BT connection) to any website of anything which falls within the ambit of the section.

 It is sometimes hard to believe that the section should be taken seriously.  In DPP v Collins, a House of Lords decision in 2006, their Lordships struggled to find a purpose for it, eventually holding that its purpose was to "prohibit the use of a service provided and funded by the public for the benefit of the public for the transmission of communications which contravene the basic standards of our society", thereby displaying a misunderstanding of the nature of network infrastructure that is almost comical.  But they upheld Mr Collins' conviction and the Wrexham magistrates have convicted Mr Mattox so it is no laughing matter.

 The upshot is that an old legacy of content regulation from another age has found new life in relation to the Internet.  The indecency test in particular presents a hazard to anyone sending the mildest adult material over the Internet.  In practice, the authorities will have no way of discovering much of it, when for example it is sent by e-mail, but anything uploaded to an accessible site is vulnerable.  

 This is legislation that should urgently be repealed or amended.  It is a gift to mischief-makers, not to mention officious public authorities.  It is in need of urgent legislative attention.

Why is this idea important?

On 12 March it was widely reported that a magistrates court in Wrexham convicted and fined one Darren Mattox for posting a message about his former girlfriend on Facebook.  Apparently he had called her by an offensive name. 

He was prosecuted for having done so under section 127 of the Communications Act, which makes it an offence to send "by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".  This is an odd provision.  It is a legacy of the old Post Office Acts and has lurked, little used, in the bowels of communications legislation for 75 years.  It does not apply to anything in the nature of a programme service, which is regulated under broadcasting law and, more recently, under provisions implementing the European AVMS Directive.  But thanks to the ingenuity of the prosecuting authorities in Wrexham, a new dimension in Internet regulation in the UK has been opened up.  Sending anything that falls within the scope of the section otherwise than as a programme service is a criminal offence.

 There is room for more than one view about calling ex-girlfriends names but since the offence is also committed by sending something which is merely indecent, there are serious consequences for anyone sending content for posting on a social network or otherwise.  

 The threshold of indecency is lower than the standard that applies to most programme services.  Under the AVMS Directive, for example, which introduces content regulation to on-demand services, all that is prohibited so far as adult material is that, where a service contains material which might seriously impair their development, children and young people will not normally see it.  So it can be included so long as it is PIN-protected, for example.  Section 127 goes much further.  Anyone uploading anything even faintly prurient to a social networking or other site may find themselve being prosecuted.  To put it another way, content regulation on the Internet does not stop at the boundaries of the AVMS Directive.  On the contrary, it gets more stringent.  Section 127 prohibits, for example, the uploading by means of a public telecommunication system (such as a standard BT connection) to any website of anything which falls within the ambit of the section.

 It is sometimes hard to believe that the section should be taken seriously.  In DPP v Collins, a House of Lords decision in 2006, their Lordships struggled to find a purpose for it, eventually holding that its purpose was to "prohibit the use of a service provided and funded by the public for the benefit of the public for the transmission of communications which contravene the basic standards of our society", thereby displaying a misunderstanding of the nature of network infrastructure that is almost comical.  But they upheld Mr Collins' conviction and the Wrexham magistrates have convicted Mr Mattox so it is no laughing matter.

 The upshot is that an old legacy of content regulation from another age has found new life in relation to the Internet.  The indecency test in particular presents a hazard to anyone sending the mildest adult material over the Internet.  In practice, the authorities will have no way of discovering much of it, when for example it is sent by e-mail, but anything uploaded to an accessible site is vulnerable.  

 This is legislation that should urgently be repealed or amended.  It is a gift to mischief-makers, not to mention officious public authorities.  It is in need of urgent legislative attention.

Return Internet Access to DEFAULT:ALLOW

The internet has traditionally been a default:allow state, this means that if you did not specifically disallow access to your network via passwords or other security, it was considered fair game to access the network.

It is now illegal to access an unsecured and open network even if it has been deliberately left it that way. The network is now DEFAULT:DENY.

Nearly all access points to the internet have the capability of being secured and I imagine most, if not all, internet access points of internet users come pre-secured by their ISP.

Why is this idea important?

The internet has traditionally been a default:allow state, this means that if you did not specifically disallow access to your network via passwords or other security, it was considered fair game to access the network.

It is now illegal to access an unsecured and open network even if it has been deliberately left it that way. The network is now DEFAULT:DENY.

Nearly all access points to the internet have the capability of being secured and I imagine most, if not all, internet access points of internet users come pre-secured by their ISP.