The Digital Economy bill – which includes plans for the PEGI ratings system to be passed into law – is set for a crunch debate in the House of Commons today.

The controversial plans, which include the infamous ‘three strikes’ rule for pirates and file-sharers, have been labelled by some as a “rush job” – with Labour keen to get the bill through Parliament before it effectively closes its doors on Thursday for the General Election period.

Speaking at last week’s ELSPA Question Time event, Conservative shadow minister Ed Vaizey indicated that it was important for the bill to be passed before the election, because – in his eyes – it would difficult for a new Parliament to introduce it afterwards, while Labour MP Tom Watson accused the two main parties of cutting a deal, and branding the actions as shameful.

I’ve highlighted the part I find most pertinent. Source.

The attitude here is not whether the bill should be passed or not – as though that aspect of it is a foregone conclusion that needs no further discussion – but how much trouble it will be to pass it later rather than sooner.

Well, sorry politicians, just because it might mean a bit more work for you that’s no reason to cut corners or compromise the standards by which you are meant to govern and represent the interest of your constituents (you work for us, remember?) to slap some legislation through nice and quickly.

I’m a consumer. I’m also someone that’s worked in a creative industry, working on products aimed at the consumer and protected by copyright law. I know for a fact that people have stolen the work I’ve toiled for months and years over.

I also abhor censorship and am also in full favour of net neutrality. I don’t agree with the idea that a person or a group of people can dictate what information I may or may not be ready to deal with, that they know what is best for me. Such a mentality has repeatedly been proven to have the man-on-the-street’s interests last and control of information for a far less noble agenda first.

Piracy is wrong. It is a form of stealing. Regardless of how the moral pirates wish to spin it, they know that it is wrong. It is a result of opportunistic greed and desire. No pirate is ‘teaching the company’ a lesson by stealing their product. I’ve heard every pirate excuse under the sun and they’re all fundamentally flawed.

By extension, DRM and copyright protection is justified – and a response to piracy, not a cause of it (as some pirates would hope to convince you of). Admittedly, the execution of DRM needs some work, but it is a justified as the lock on your front door.

Given my stance on digital theft and on the openness of the internet I am interested in the Digital Economy bill and see it as something to be handled with care, not rushed through the legislative process for the convenience of people elected to serve me and my best interests.

The subtext of “when” and not “if” in the views expressed and the motives behind them are deplorable and show a worrying disparity between the decision makers and the people who will be affected by such decisions.

How would some of these politicos respond if it were being discussed “when” and not “if” they were going to return the expenses they scammed off the public?


UPDATE: Just saw this in my RSS feeds. I can say it’s especially comforting.

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