Big tech accountability? Read how we got here in  The Closing of the Net 

Civil liberties...the UK election ...and the Digital Economy Act. Can the Liberal Democrats use the Digital Economy Act as one of  their bargaining chips in their deal with the Conservatives to form the new UK government?


Following the UK election on Thursday, which gave none of the political parties a clear majority, negotiations are  now taking place between the Conservatives - who gained the largest number of seats - and the Liberal Democrats - who hold the balance of seats between the Conservatives and Labour.

David Cameron has stated that one policy issue where the Conservatives and LibDems have common ground is civil liberties. He cites their mutual opposition to Labour's  ID card scheme. 

However, as iptegrity readers will know there is another major civil liberties issue raging in the background, which the LibDems have understood and  the Conservatives have not.

These issues concern the Digital Economy Act and the reversal of  a principle of justice which has existed in England since the Magna Carta, namely the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. Mr Clegg's advisors will be able to obtain full details of this issue from their Liberal colleagues in the European Parliament who fought for it in the Telecoms Package in November last year.  In particular, their

Swedish colleague, Lena Ek would be able to explain  it to them. 


In brief, the measures to support copyright by acting against Internet users are intended to bypass the court system. The EU Telecoms Package contains a clause which seeks to ensure that such a bypass cannot happen.  In the process of the Telecoms Package through the EU legislature there was considerable public debate surrounding this issue, and it is well-known in Brussels.

Moreover, those who understand technology and the Internet are only too painfully aware that the implementation of such measures, as proposed under the Digital Economy Act, stands to create a technical infrastructure capable of censorship, and the measures could easily be misappropriated for censorship purposes. 

The Digital Economy Act was put in place as a protectionist measure for the large and wealthy entertainment industries.   Mr Cameron admitted before the election, in the YouTube Facebook leaders debate , that he could have blocked the Digital Economy Actl.  (The Digital Economy Bill was rammed through the British Parliament on 6 April, and gained royal  assent with indecent haste on 8 April)

The reason he did not do so was to support the "good bits" which were "important" for the music and entertainment industries. My feeling is that he was never briefed on the civil liberties issues. The reason may be that the collusion with Labour and corporate industry  goes back to the European Parliament and the Telecoms Package. The UK Conservatives in the European Parliament singularly failed to address the civi liberties issues and in the end were out-voted. 

Assuming that the LibDems can convince Mr Cameron of the serious civil liberties issues at stake, what then do they ask for? A repeal of the Act? A stay of execution - blocking the Ofcom discussions? 


 For more information on the EU Telecoms Package and the civil liberties issues, please see the Telecoms Package sections on

In my section Copyright Business I am starting to track the wealth that is retained in these industries.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Digital Economy Act: can Clegg push Cameron? 8  May 2010


States v the 'Net? 

Read The Closing of the Net, by me, Monica Horten.

"original and valuable"  Times higher Education

" essential read for anyone interested in understanding the forces at play behind the web."

Find out more about the book here  The Closing of the Net


FROM £15.99

Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

Iptegrity  offers expert insights into Internet policy (and related issues on Brexit). Iptegrity has a core readership in the Brussels policy community, and has been cited in the media. Please acknowledge Iptegrity when you cite or link.  For more, see IP politics with integrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

Contact  me to use  iptegrity content for commercial purposes

The politics of copyright

A Copyright Masquerade - How corporate lobbying threatens online freedoms

'timely and provocative' Entertainment Law Review