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Lib Dems want further scrutiny of Digital Economy Act

Innocent Brits face internet ban

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, says the Digital Economy Act should be subject to further scrutiny.

Clegg made the comments during a question and answer session for The Student Room, a UK student social networking site which claims 2.8 million unique visitors.

"We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off," Clegg said.

"It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

The controversial Digital Economy Bill became law earlier this month after being given final approval by the House of Lords.

The bill was debated in the House of Commons for just two days as MPs rushed to make the bill law before Parliament was dissolved, in preparation for the general election, which will take place on May 6.

The act contains a 'three strikes' rule designed to tackle internet piracy, which will see those suspected of illegal downloading issued with letters from their ISP regarding their activities.

Copyright owners will be allowed to ask a court to order ISPs to reveal the name and addresses of illegal file-sharers so they can start legal action.

Finally, repeat offenders could also face technical measures including a temporary ban from the internet.

One of the country's largest broadband providers, TalkTalk, has said it would rather go to court than disconnect a customer's account for alleged copyright infringement.

It has also pledged to never surrender a customer's details to copyright holders without a court order.

Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk, wrote on the company blog: "Many draconian proposals remain [in the Act], such as the presumption that they [customers] are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent, and, as in China, the potential for legitimate search engines and websites to be blocked."

Nick Clegg's full Q&A session can be found here.

See also: Lib Dems call for re-think on Clause 17 amendment

Poll: Where next for the Digital Economy Act?


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