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The Digital Economy Bill will provide an immediate test for the UK's new coalition government. Will the LibDems keep their pledge to repeal it?


Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat economic spokesman, has been made Secretary of State for Business under the new conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in the UK.

The Liberal Democrtat policy before the election was to oppose the Digital Economy Act and in particular, the policy of 3-strikes/graduated response measures for copyright enforcement. This was clear in  their emergency motion at their recent Spring conference.

Liberal Democrat leader, and now the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, is on the record as calling for the repeal of the Digital Economy Act.

Meanwhile, Ofcom has acted in indecent haste to ram through the implementation of the mis-named Act, in spite of widespread opposition which contentds that the Digital Economy Act  will  predjudice civil lilberties, be an expensive drain on industry finances and bring little in the way of benefit.  

Two meetings with industry have already

taken place, and a further meeting is scheduled for next Thursday. Ofcom's role under the DEAct is to supervise the policing of the Internet for copyright. Its first action will be to set up a non-judicial body, funded (and staffed?) by industry to manage post-sanction appeals from users and this is what those first meetings have been discussing.


With the regime change, and a coalition claiming to stand for civil liberties, will the new Minister for Business  be so keen?


This presents an immeditate challenge to the new coalition government - one that  is guaranteed to be watched by thousands of voters.

Will Vince Cable hold true to Nick Clegg's pre-election pledge to repeal the DE Act? Could he even put it on the blocks for a while?


Conservative culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt has been made the new Minister for Culture. He stood against the BPI (UK recorded music industry)  PR man and lobbyist, Richard Mollet, who was the Labour party candidate in his constituency of South-West Surrey. On election night when he was re-confirmed as MP, Mr Hunt said that he stood for ‘fairer politics'.


Those words would stick in the mouth of anyone who watched how he helped to ram  the Digital Ecomony Bill through the last Parliament on its dying day.


However, as the other Minister with responsibility for the Digital Economy Act, Mr Hunt has a new opportunity to demonstrate whether or not his ‘fairer' politics are real or disingenuous.


It's also worth reminding ourselves of a previous pledge by the Conservatives to make a ‘bonfire of the quangos' with Ofcom on the top of the pyre. Ofcom is certaiinly over-reaching its role as telecommunications regulator, and arguably deserves some stripping if not burning.


Nick Clegg pledges to repeal the Digital Economy Act - The Guardian, 16 April 2010

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) Liberal Democrats take on challenge of  UK 3-strikes policy  13 May   2010

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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