back to article File-sharing Bill could give Government control of the internet

The Digital Economy Bill would give the Government the power to control the internet access of UK citizens by ministerial order, bypassing Parliament and without an adequate right of appeal, according to one legal expert. Barrister Francis Davey has examined clause 11 of the Bill and believes that it puts extraordinary powers …


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  1. Gordon Pryra

    The BIS spokesman disagreed

    saying that the Bill says that "Ofcom has to consult".....

    Because we all know just how much the Governenment actually listerns to its consultants in the real world.

  2. Paul Gomme

    EU law does NOT protect us...

    I seem to recall this government disregard any European legislation they don't like. Remember their response about privacy over Phorm, their stance on DNA retention by the police...

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. M Gale

    Oh well

    Mine's the one with the 32GB USB stick in the pocket.

    I suppose if anyone did want to bypass this in a more interesting way, there's always RFCs 1149 or 2549.

    1. AchimR
      Thumb Up

      Nice one

      Added to that, I'd say they should implement

      and they might actually produce something of value for a change

      1. David Barrett

        This has always bothered me...

        Inifinite. If something is infinite it has no end.

        If you had an infinite numeber of monkeys wouldnt you INSTANTLY have the works of shakespear? in fact given an infinite amount of monkeys wouldnt you actually instantly have everything ever written?

        Also given an infinite amount of monkeys you would have one hell of a lot of poo being thrown.

  5. The Metal Cod

    There's Nothing "Inadvertent" Here

    Mr Davey is being far too generous to Mandelson and this "government". This is a deliberate attempt to put in place a process which bypasses due process of law requiring evidence and transparency. This "government" loathes the freedom of expression that the internet has given people and wants to protect its own shady dealings and those of large corporations.

    The power to disconnect people and to block sites it doesn't like is not the desire of a democratic government, it is the desire of a control-freak dictatorship which feels threatened by the free expression of opposing and dissenting views. Filesharing is a convenient excuse on which to hang this legislation.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      The UK is not the only government to want control over any media which allows citizens to freely express their views.

  6. irish donkey
    Thumb Down

    'we know from other laws that when a power exists it finds a way of getting used'

    Laws being abused by the Government, that would never happen in a democracy

    After all would the Government use Anti-Terrorism Laws to harass photographers or Surveillance laws to trap parents trying to get their children into a good school.

    Don't worry Voter it will never happen to you. You have nothing to hide. How do i know you have nothing to hide?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    "Law inadvertantly gives keys to Mandy"

    Nothing this government does has been "inadvertent".

  8. Anonymous Coward


    like this really is an inadvertent side effect of the bill.

    This bunch of shysters don't do anything like this inadvertently.

  9. Martin 47


    I dont think so

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Sieg Heil ...... is not Inappropriate here, no matter how offensive you may view those words.

    "My suspicion is that this is not an intentional power grab," said Davey. "I think that it is just bad drafting. Whoever was doing it, rather than think of a subtle and complicated power that had the right effect, they have just given the broad power that would allow the Secretary of State to do what was needed."

    Oh, FFS, Barrister Francis Davey, Grow up and Enter the Real World, which incidentally is Virtual and Remotely Controlled. Your Closetted Cossetting Naivity is Positive Dangerous. It most certainly is an Intentional InterNetional Power Grab ....... but it is not something which Mandy can wield, no matter how much he would Wish and Pray for it to be so.

    And Now, now that you Know/are advised of such a Truth, what you Like or even Think you will be Able to do about it? Might I suggest Diddly Squat whenever such a Feat is so easily Already Exercised.

    1. John G Imrie

      What have you done to the real man from mars

      Not only did I understand that post I actually agreed with most of it

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Play Nice

      We should be thanking the guy for brining it to our attention.

  11. Scott 19

    The Dark Lord

    Why does this man scare me like the Sith Lord from Star Wars trying to grab power, ever media outlet sound have to play the Imperial March everytime he appears on TV or in media clips on-line (even though you may not have connection for much longer).

    And for the Dark Lords next trick blocking all information about any political party he's not in at the present moment, not sure if the Tories would have him back but the Dark Side is strong Ju-Ju.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I seem to remember that both the Sith (and the DL in another tome) meet their demise, as does Mr Smith in the Matrix.

      So the Goodies always win!!

  12. Hollerith 1


    Oh gosh, does it give us God-like powers, just as in China? Oops, tee hee, our mistake. Colour us embarassed!!! :)

  13. irish donkey
    Paris Hilton

    Law 'inadvertantly' gives keys to Mandy

    Nothing inadvertently about it.

    Make a nice open ended law and the sky's the limit as to what can be achieved in the name of 'public good'

    The other political parties have been strangely mute on this the Big Business supporting legislation. Maybe the Tories are rubbing their hands together thinking of all the fun they will have with this travesty of justice from our NuLabour appointed representatives, once Labour get kicked out.

    Thinking of icons and potential abuses of this law: If Paris Hilton was Prime Minister nobody would have seen her best film. There's a Paris angle

    Vote for change - End SeeSaw Politics - Vote for LibDem

  14. Dan 10
    Thumb Down


    Who fancies running a book on how long it will take before individuals net access is removed for simply speaking out against the wrong person/gov dept?

    In fact, taking this whole thing a step further, how long before net access is a 'priviledge' rather than a right? Toe the gov line, get connected.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Parliamentary Village Peopled Madhouse

      "In fact, taking this whole thing a step further, how long before net access is a 'priviledge' rather than a right? Toe the gov line, get connected." .... Dan 10 Posted Friday 18th December 2009 12:09 GMT

      Toe the gov line is a speeding journey on a titanic train wreck, Dan 10, for they have lost the plot and all credibility and ability to govern democratically. There is not even a pretence at it, and that is surely a monumentally arrogant blunder/misunderestimation which will cause them dear pain ... which is fine for the BDSM/Opus Dei crowd but political suicide in AIMeritocracy and Humiliated Monarchy, ...........

      There's an unpleasant No 10 Coup going on in the UK, whilst Military Resources are Chasing Shadows in Foreign and Hostile Fields/Alien Lands and make no mistake about that?

  15. Red Bren
    Big Brother

    Sub-heading error

    "Law surreptitiously gives keys to Mandy"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mandleson only cares about Mandelson

    This is why Parliament drafts laws, not ministers.

    Time and time again, Labour have given the power to draft laws to ministers, and time and time again theyv'e f***cked it up with some half conceived POS.

    Labour is unelectable because so many of these badly conceived rushed laws have backfired on them.

    So Labour MPs , just need to imagine a few months from now. They're trying to get elected, and Mandy is busy cutting off people from the Internet, people who have upset one of his rich and powerful Corfu friends.

    If you wouldn't let Mandelson cut THEM off, then they'd better think twice about letting this POS Minister get his way on this bill.

    Mandelson is a LORD now, he doesn't care about voters, he only ever cared about himself anyway, so he has no penalty for favouring his Corfu friends over the British public.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    RIPA all over again?

    It's only for terrorists.

    It's only for paedophiles

    It's only for serious criminals.

    None of those groups were actually *listed* in the law however. No limits were imposed.

    It's the crime law for the rest of us.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Bad drafting?

    Bad drafting is a recent bill being discussed in the US that would require AMTRAK to lock passengers with guns in small boxes. Not their guns, just the passengers themselves. That's inadvertent. This is deliberate.

    And no the EU wouldn't protect us. In drafting this bill the UK is complying with the general intent of EU directives on the matter, it's just that, when it sees an opportunity for revenue and control, this government likes to go that extra mile and then give the new power to unelected snakes. Of course, judging by how the EU operates, that's par for the course as well...

  19. Ged T
    Black Helicopters

    I think...

    given this government's splendid track record on such matters, that it is highly unlikely that they would cut off any critics of their net or other policies in mid-

  20. Number6

    Be More Explicit

    If they don't intend it to be used that way then there should be an explicit clause in the primary legislation that provides a narrow definition of what can be done with statutory instruments.

    There has been too much of this vague legislation and promises at the time of "oh, that's not our intention", only to find out too late that actually it was. Once upon a time we had a House of Lords that properly scrutinised legislation, but that was broken when Blair fired most of the competent scrutineers.

  21. FoolD

    Joined up thinking...

    "What you can't do is require an ISP to look at the traffic going over its network and find certain content. But if an ISP is asked to block an IP address they can do that," he said. "Blocking is not monitoring."

    How long will it be before the DPI monitoring of "illegal file sharing" levels will be allowed as the basis for blocking a users traffic ? Once that happens the blocking will be directly caused by the monitoring.

    Even wiithout the link between monitoring and blocking, if the EU E-Commerce directives prohibit laws that force an ISP to monitor traffic, how come that is exactly what the monitoring clauses of the Digital Ecomony Bill do ... ?

    More overbearing laws designed to instill fear and obedience into the electorate...

    GO .. please just go

  22. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!

    "My suspicion is that this is not an intentional power grab,"

    Recent history shows your suspicion is wrong!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Well ...

    First websites to be targeted for immediate closure will be those of the opposition parties ... can't have any views against those of the Labour party reaching the ears of the controlled population.

    Next, all websites will be scoured and any with anti-Labour remarks will go in the bit-bucket ... for your protection of course ...

    All PC's will have to log into a special webpage, which will show an image of the Sith Lord Mandy with heavy breathing coming out of loudspeakers for a period of 10 seconds before allowing you to proceed further into state controlled websites and ONLY state controlled websites. All OS makers will be 'advised' to do this if it ever wishes to sell it's product or gain Government approval - then it will be forced on the end user even if they want it or not as part of a regular state-wide upgrade policy.

    Prove me wrong ..!

    Ich bein ein Englander!

  24. David Adams
    Big Brother

    "Law inadvertently gives keys to Mandy"

    There is nothing inadvertent about it.

    I can hear him saying:

    "And I'd have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for those snooping kids!!"

  25. seanj

    In 6 months or less.....

    I'm going to "inadvertently" vote Lib Dem, thereby "inadvertenly" ejecting the foul vaginal discharge "inadvertently" raised as human that is Darth Meddlesome from his position as High Lord of Everything Going.

    Assuming, of course, that our Politburo don't "inadvertenly" forget to hold a General Election ever again...

  26. Blubster
    Thumb Down

    Always said

    that the proposed `monitoring` of peer to peer networks looking for illegal copyrighted material using DPI is an excuse for monitoring ALL of your internet activity to keep tabs on what you're up to 24/7.

    What the bloody hell has P2P monitoring got to do with the government? That should be the job of those who's copyright is being infringed - let the BPI sort it out.

  27. Nick Davey

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    That is all...

  28. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Big Brother

    Big Brother is coming

    "Law inadvertently gives keys to Mandy"

    Bollocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Since when did a government do anything by accident....?

    "The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has rejected the interpretation of the law, claiming that the EU's E-Commerce Directive prohibits the activity described by Davey."

    The EU Courts also said it was wrong to keep DNA sample from innocent people didn't it.....

    "My suspicion is that this is not an intentional power grab,"


    The UK is rapidly becoming a Totalitarian democracy; maybe we should give it a name, how about "Ingsoc"

    @AC 13:39, why 10 seconds, lets go for the full "Two Minutes Hate" where the proles must watch an infomercial about watch a film depicting the party's enemies.

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    EU Directive Vs UK law

    Because the claim is that the EU Directive says if the ISP's don't know something is illegal they have no requirement to monitor it and are *not* liable for the illegality.

    Is this a get out of jail free card to dump the IMP?

    Only I thought bills were meant to be scrutinised for EU complience *before* they become Acts.

    It seems the apprentice is now the master.

  30. MadonnaC

    don't forget the regulators

    "Ofcom governs the use of the power but can't inhibit it"

    So Ofcom can say what you can do with the power, but can't say what you can do with the power.

    doubleplusgood doublespeak!

    Promote that man!

    [I'm so glad I left the country]

  31. Francis Davey 1


    Its hard to get in the minds of people who draft legislation - one of the reasons the courts are very reluctant to try to do so and lets be thankful for that. I can only guess what was going on in the drafters' minds so I could easily be wrong. That's why I said "my suspicion". Best guess.

    The point is that even if I am right and this is just a mistake, rather than a deliberate power grab, its still a dangerous power that will almost certainly be misused in the future. An assurance from the government of the day that its not what its meant to be used for or that's not how its going to be used is rarely worth anything at all.

    Have a read of the Bill for yourselves though. There's enough signs in there of poor drafting to suggest I might be right. For example the wonderful reference to an "internet portal address" later on. Cobbled together really doesn't cover it.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Nice of you to pop in and say your piece.

      I think, to be frank, this government *is* incompetent. However they're also incredibly malicious, and it's very easy to believe that any apparent mistake they make is actually intentional simply because their actions have made it clear that they intend to progressively strip away ever single right we have. In that context, whether they do it by accident or whether they do it on purpose becomes irrelevant, all that matters is the result, another ratchet toward total power.

      We live in a totalitarian state in all but name now. Whether they do it directly, or whether they bump things up to the EU level in order to push through what Parliament can't bring itself to swallow, this Labour government is attempting to destroy everything that once defined this country.

      The Tories will be no better, before anyone tries to accuse me of partisan thinking. Cameron is Blair lite and cannot be trusted to stick to any promises he's made.

      It's enough to drive you to drink...

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Q type Clearances required/desired or there will be Problematical Issues?

      "Its hard to get in the minds of people who draft legislation - one of the reasons the courts are very reluctant to try to do so and lets be thankful for that." ..... Francis Davey 1 Posted Saturday 19th December 2009 00:16 GMT

      Francis Davey 1,

      Anyone and Everyone minded to draft legislation is a Power Control Freak and therefore should always be subject to constant vetting and surveillance and the highest of courts approval, for they will be always charged with and held responsible for liabilities and failures in legislation? Anything less is an abdication of Judicial Power to an Any Crazy Tom, Dick or Harry Executive?

      And shared as Questions because Facts are only an Accepted Temporal Convenience in Support of Presented Evidence and Available Information. Hidden and/or withheld Intelligence and/or Testimony would then render all Subsequent Facts as being Conveniently False and all Conclusions based upon Incompletely Shared Information, Dodgy Intelligence?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have never been of the opinion

      that such 'assurances' can possibly be genuine. Rather like Richard Branson/Bill Gates are not nice men, because nice men can't accrue that much moolah (It's the 'holding on to it' part!). You don't get to being, say, a cabinet minister, without understanding full well that what they say is not their intention _now_ has bugger all to do with how such laws will undoubtedly be used in future. Therefore we have to assume it _is_ deliberate, the most generous explanation being that they have 'a vision' of how a technological world should be run; that like the (other) cynics (us, as in 'it takes one to know one'; like criminals and police and we're the police) they have always considered actual Democracy to be more of a convenient fantasy for placating the masses, but that is no more practical or desirable than anarchy, and they genuine believe that they are acting in the interests of the nation. Kind of the difference between whether they should be banged up for life, or gutshot.

    4. David 105
      Big Brother

      Also brave

      I would also like to add my respect + to Mr Davey for coming back and backing up what he originally said. I also notice that you're following the dictum of not attributing to malice what can be attributed to stupidity, I applaud your faith in humanity, and if it was anyone but Darth mandlescum I might have agreed with you (either that or your job has a political element we're not aware of and cant *truely* speak freely) but the last year has shown mandlescum make an unprecedented grab for power, presumably in return for his support for a failing and impotent prime minister, and I suspect that he would've had a hand in drafting this law to ensure he got as much power as possible whilst ensuring it appeared that it was written by idiots. Hold on, I'll be right back, there's a knock at the do...

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Bent Government - thats what this is

    Is the Great Britain we live in or China? It is increasingly feeling like the latter...

    Whilst the corps may have fair rights about alleged infrigements this does NOT warrant a sledehammer to kill an ant.

    Mandelson is showing himself up to be an arrogant twat here, if we agree to copyright crackdowns for the music biz then how about secure something RECIPRICATED like "fair use" for todays generation that like to remix and create new works from old.... this, to me, is a very fair and reasonable expectation, yet, as we currently stand is avenue of new works being forced into an illegal situation here because of the sledgehammer approach.

    What BAFFLES me is if people are really "sharing" then take them to court simple as.... Sue them for costs and the process is self sufficient....

    Failure to sue via the courts and existing methods signals to me this is NOT really about illegal downloads here but something more sinister. Having laws created to bypass laws? CMON this is disgusting.

    We are supposed to live in a democracy here not THEIR law of assumed guilty - prove your innocent

    What if... one day they realise the average punter only spends 40 quid a year on music and they agree to put 3 UKP on everyones internet to pay for this... then the problems solved in a legal civil-law manner YET the Government have aquired full on access to snoop on everybody

    THINK PEOPLE............. THINK....

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Slaves do not Think to Act Freely ....... They are as Bit Players for Media Moguls?

      "THINK PEOPLE............. THINK...." ...... Anonymous Coward Posted Saturday 19th December 2009 06:29 GMT

      AC, That is a major problem for most people and thus is the world open to selfish abuse by the very few who do and who would act on their thoughts without fear of rejection and discovery of hidden and unacceptable and destructive agenda. There are many more though, who would think that they act with such impunity and immunity, only to discover that their covers are blown and/or they are to be rendered expendable and not fit for future purpose and their protections are withdrawn, for their Thinking is Sub Prime Ministerial and they have become a Public Liability and Private Embarrassment.

      Then do they have an ever present and ultimately quickly self-destructive Credibility Problem as they Battle against the Truth as revealed by Others who would abandon the Spin of Fools, fully finally realising that they have been Duped and Used as Useful Idiot Tools.

  33. Eddy Ito


    It seems there is a consensus among the posters that this is something other than a minor slip in wording. I prefer to give the beneficent overlords some modicum of credit and in invoking Hanlon's razor I shall "never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." Of course this raises another issue in that it doesn't matter if they are incompetent or evil inasmuch as they still have the keys and are in the driving seat.

  34. dervheid
    Big Brother

    The thin end of the wedge...

    is long gone. NuLabour are inexorably tightening their desperate grip on power in this country. An election is (well, currently anyway) coming next year, gawd help us if these fuckers get back in (or are bold enough to decide that they can get away with not having one. Do you think that the merkins would move in to 'restore democracy'?)

  35. kain preacher

    I'm suprised

    I know the UK is not an armed society but I'm surprised some has not taken a shot at some of these politicians . An on as I dont want to get extradited , or wait I'm a yank my country actual protects . Unless its China, A big mega corp, does not suit their needs or it interferes with a politicians ability to make money .

  36. hwnd
    Black Helicopters

    Remember the movie 'V for Vendetta'?

    Maybe _that_ UK is what you are headed at... lucky me, here in Finland we have no such thing as evil/incompetent prime-ministers or politicians :P

  37. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    In all this let's not forget one thing.

    Whatever the ads say Copyright infringement is *not* theft.

    It is copyright infringement. A civil matter. As in private, between 2 parties, usually some private citizen and some global media corp.

    Ah, global media corp as in the sort of outfit a retiring government minister might like a lucrative part time board membership of.

  38. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  39. Frank Bitterlich

    And the difference...

    ... to the _current_ situation in the UK is what, exactly?

  40. Sam Therapy

    [voice of Peter Kay's dad]Mandelson? Am I hearing you right?[/voice of Peter Kay's Dad]

    Dear God that's like asking Fred West to babysit.

    Not that any of the other lying, self serving, expenses fiddling, power hungy set of bastards would be any better.

    Perhaps we should shoot all politicians and start again.

    Not anon because I'm past caring.

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