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Lib Dems back repeal of the Digital Economy Act

Party was 'Damaging parts' of the Act removed

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to repeal "damaging parts" of the Digital Economy Act.

At the party's autumn conference, MPs voted in favour of the Preparing The Ground: Stimulating Growth In The Digital Economy policy paper. The paper offered two proposals in regards to backing-down on the DEA, which became law in April last year.

The MPs voted in favour of Option A, which calls for sections 3 to 18 of the Act to be repealed, as the legislation is "a deeply flawed and unworkable act which stands only as the main emblem of a misguided, outdated and negative approach".

These sections cover the three-strikes system for illegal downloaders that could result in repeat offenders "technical measures" such as temporarily being banned from the web.

Furthermore, the sections also call for ISPs to block access to sites that contain copyright-infringing material as well as monitoring their activities of its customers and handing over contact details to right holders of any who's net connection is being used for illegal file-sharing.

"Tackling piracy is important, but it shouldn't be seen as an end in itself. It's more important to create conditions that reward innovation and talent, and ensure that creators get the benefits of their work," said Julian Huppert, chair the Lib Dems' Information Technology Policy Working Group.

"The Digital Economy Act fails to do that. Worse, it sorely lacks a convincing evidence base and real democratic legitimacy. I am delighted that conference has passed this motion calling for the damaging parts of the act to be repealed, and suggesting new ways for the digital economy to grow."

Just days after the Digital Economy Act became law, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, told the UK student social networking site The Student Room that the Digital Economy Act should be subject to further scrutiny. However, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron,  said at the time rejecting or reconsidering the Digital Economy Act would lead to "an unacceptable setback for the important measures it contains".

However, in May Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, revealed the Coalition hade no plans to repeal the act. UK ISPs BT and TalkTalk also called for the High Court to launch the review, stating the Act was "rushed through" and had "insufficient scrutiny". The two firms were also concerned that measures to tackle net piracy - including plans to temporarily suspend people from the web - could be in breach of "basic rights and freedoms.

The subsequent judicial review, which began in March this year, rejected four out of the five claims put forward by the ISPs. In May, the pair made an application to appeal against the result, but it was refused.


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