I wrote to Angela Smith asking her not to rush through the Digital Economy Bill, here is the 2nd response I got, the first being a letter explaining my letter had been forwarded to another department.
Here is the letter in full:
07 April 2010
Our Ref: Digital Economy Bill
Thank you for your recent email concerning the digital economy bill and the prospect of this bill becoming legislation.
Although I would have voted in favour of the bill at its second reading, none of the opposition parties provided any opposition to advancing the bill. As a consequence of this, no vote was held and so the bill progressed to committee stage unopposed. I do however feel compelled to explain the reasons why I was in favour of the bill’s passage at second reading.
It is the case that businesses crucial to the UK’s media and technology economy will greatly benefit from the implementation of the bill. Such companies include Channel 4, whose main benefit would be an extension of its public service remit. The Bill will legally require Channel 4 to invest in film, thereby securing its already considerable commitment to this medium.
The other provision I strongly support is that relating to the strengthening of online protection of children and young teenagers. There have been numerous cases of children downloading information, using internet gaming and using social networking sites without their parents’ supervision or permission. The internet is one of the most influential and therefore powerful tools in the world, and there is little doubt that this level of unregulated and free information can have dangerous consequences on an impressionable mind.
A major area of controversy that the bill seeks to readdress would be the issue of online gaming. Rather than there being two regulatory boards examining and classifying the suitability of games, there would now be just one, avoiding the confusion on gaming suitability that currently exists. Secondly, the bill would put in place a strict procedure when games rated for ages 12, 16 and 18 are supplied to people under these ages, as it simplifies and clarifies the law on age-related status for retailers, parents and children, ensuring that children are not exposed to any material that is not deemed appropriate for them. Finally, it will create an age ratings system harmonised across 30 European countries so that children will not become exposed to offensive gaming material from other countries. Whilst the majority of research conducted on the internet is useful and informative, I believe that where we can take reasonable measures to protect children then this action should be taken.
It is also the case that the Bill has been thoroughly debated in the Lords and amended in relation to the provisions on copyright. It is my understanding that a clear and effective appeal mechanism has been put in place and that before Regulations could be implemented there would be full consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny.
Angela Smith MP
So in short, my MP would have voted for the bill because it had a couple of provisions in it that protected children, regardless of how many bad provisions there are in the bill. Surely that is a reason NOT to vote for it and hold it over for proper debate and proper consultation in the next parliament!
Update: As Saul pointed out on Twitter, the last paragraph says it all “It is also the case that the Bill has been thoroughly debated in the Lords“, an unelected and unaccountable body, and that is one of the complaints against the bill.
I’ll update the post when I send a reply.