Digital Britain Bill to get second reading today

7 Apr 2010

The Digital Britain Bill which was due to be passed in Parliament yesterday is to get a second reading in Parliament and several MPs have called for its implementation to be delayed until after the UK elections.

It is understood that part of the bill, the part referring to how copyright holders can block access to websites hosting pirated content, is to be subject to further consultation.

The UK has spotted the size of the digital prize and the impact it has not only for thousands of people who work in creative industries like broadcasting, but the economic impact a far-seeing approach to digital can have to bettering the lives of ordinary people.

Tories have argued that questions have yet to be answered while the Liberal Democrats are seeking greater scrutiny of aspects.

Overall, there appears to be a consensus amongst MPs that backing a digital economy plan is going to be good for Britain overall.

However, one element – known as Clause 18 – will have to undergo a “super-affirmative” process, in other words, greater scrutiny.

Clause 18 of the bill is considered to be a bit of a rush job by the UK government and is aimed at future-proofing the law against accessing pirated materials, granting rights holders the right to block websites with pirated content.

Another matter of contention is public Wi-Fi, which, if the bill is passed into law, may hold owners of public Wi-Fi base stations accountable if individuals are found to be using the hotspot to download pirated material.

The bill is a particular bone of contention because it largely affects the UK’s massive digital creation and broadcasting industries alongside issues like broadband.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Houses of Parliament in London

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years