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Coalition govt to fight over Digital Economy Act?

Clegg and Cameron don't agree on repeal of bill

The Digital Economy Act could become an issue in the new Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government, which was announced last night.

The Act became law last month after MPs voted to pass the controversial Digital Economy Bill before Parliament was dissolved in preparation for last week's general election, despite a number of concerns that the bill had not been properly scrutinised.

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

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.

However, while new Prime Minister David Cameron recently told UK student social networking site The Student Room he believes that rejecting or reconsidering the Digital Economy Act will lead to "an unacceptable setback for the important measures it contains", his Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, doesn't share his views. Clegg told the same social network that the Digital Economy Act should be subject to further scrutiny.

"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 It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

Brits will have to wait and see what happens to various aspects of the Digital Economy Act. When the act was passed, it was confirmed that some measures within the act would be subject to further debate and public consultation once Parliament resumed after the general election.

This includes the contentious clause that allows courts to order ISPs to block websites offering copyright infringing content.

The new coalition government is also thought to be working on a Great Repeal Bill, which will see a number of legislations seen to be hampering freedom dumped. The Digital Economy Act, ID cards and biometric passports are among the issues expected to be scrapped.

It also looks unlikely that the 'broadband tax' will be re-introduced under the new government.

The levy, which was intended to help finance the provision of faster broadband across the country, would have seen households with a landline phone forking out £6 a year.

However, the Conservative Party was heavily against the tax, instead believing the TV Licence Fee and private investors should cover the cost of rolling out fibre-optic broadband.

As a result, the broadband tax was one of three proposed charges dumped from the Finance Bill before Parliament was dissolved on 12 April in preparation before the General Election,

It was thought that the tax would be reintroduced if Labour won the election.

See also: General Election: what it means for the IT industry

Poll: Where next for the Digital Economy Act?

Under 14 percent fully support Digital Economy Act

This includes the contentious clause that allows courts to order ISPs to block websites offering copyright infringing content like YouTube.

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