The Digital Economy Bill, which is likely to pass in haste and without scrutiny by MPs before the next election, is supposed to benefit the UK's emergent 21st century digital industries. Yet critics of various parts, especially the controversial plans to disconnect from the Internet alleged repeat infringers of copyright ("three strikes"), include ISPs, telcos, Facebook, Google and even Stephen Fry, and some have suggested it might better be called the Analogue Preservation Bill.
More than this the heated passage of the Bill has raised two worrying issues that go wider than the problems of music, copyright or downloading. First, the vacuum of technical knowledge, and near-disdain for the Internet, at the heart of all the main political parties in this country. Second, the capture of the regulatory process by industry sectors who do understand the technology and can spend the money needed to get the laws they want from those who don't, even where this means restraining not developing innovation.
Does the Digital Economy Bill show that democracy is dead in the Houses of Parliament or that the gap between the ruling classes and the technliterati is unbridgeable? Lilian Edwards, Professor of Internet Law at the University of Sheffield, will discuss these issues in the light other recent experience advising the Open Rights Group and the Liberal democrats on the Bill.
Lilian Edwards can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and her blog is at http://blogscript.blogspot.com/ and she is @lilianedwards on Twitter.
See also the Open Rights Group site: http://www.openrightsgroup.org/