1. It’s the economy, stupid
Last week’s official advice (Word doc) on the bill ‘would effectively “outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses”‘ said Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University.
“This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in,” Edwards said.
It also makes it harder and more expensive for the sort of mobile young business people who frequent these shops. In Birmingham, for example, many entrepreneurs meet in places like Urban Coffee Company and Coffee Lounge to network, exchange ideas, and work (often at the same time). Take that away and you’re making it more expensive for those people to do business, it’s as simple as that.
In addition, the likes of Clause 17 (see below) make it difficult for any business to plan and innovate in an environment which can be changed on the whim of the Secretary of State.
2. Death to open access
Last week’s document would also “leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position,” adds Edwards. From ZDNet:
“Universities cannot be exempted, [Lord] Young said [in the document], because some universities already have stringent anti-file-sharing rules for their networks, and “it does not seem sensible to force those universities who already have a system providing very effective action against copyright infringement to abandon it and replace it with an alternative”.”
In fact, the government would do well to look more closely at just how ‘effective’ those university measures have been. I know of students who have had internet access cut off without notice for apparently completely legal activity. I guess you’d call that ‘collateral damage’, and it’s a sign of things to come if we extend the principle throughout the country.
There’s a principle of open access to knowledge here that lies at the heart of what libraries and universities do. Restricting their (already hamstrung) ability to offer that is of real concern.
3. Unchecked power
Clause 17. Backed by the NUJ. Are you insane?
Clause 11. From SamKnows:
“What’s rapidly becoming the textbook example of this is the way that legislation designed to freeze terrorist funds was used against one of Iceland’s banks, Landisbanki, during the country’s recent financial crisis.
“[Francis Davey, a practising barrister and legal advisor, says] “Clause 11 could easily be used to force the blocking of specific sites or group of sites, such as those that have been identified as having unlawful content by an organisation like the Internet Watch Foundation; or the choking of specific forms of P2P protocol,” he told Samknows. “There is not even a requirement that the subscribers to ISP’s are made aware of technical measures which could be imposed by stealth. The fact that there is no need to publish or consult on the use of the power means that there is minimal external quality control, or publicity which might serve in lieu of parliamentary scrutiny.””
4. The logic behind it is flawed, the data is skewed, and most people don’t want it
There’s a great piece by Rory Cellan-Jones that identifies some of the data that is lacking surrounding the bill. Meanwhile, hello everyone from Mark Thomas and Google, Facebook, Yahoo and eBay, to MI5, Talk Talk and, yes, Stephen Fry, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, Metropolitan Police, Consumer Focus, er, the public according to polls.
What can you do?
You don’t even have to take to the streets…
You can also receive email and RSS updates for the Bill via the Parliament website