back to article MPs, Lords ask if Mandybill is human rights friendly

The Government must provide more detail on exactly how alleged copyright infringers will be cut off from the internet before a file-sharing disconnection law is passed, according to a parliamentary committee. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has said that the Government must make the Digital Economy Bill more detailed to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other laws being broken

    So Mandy wants a framework pushed through Parliament that lets him write illegal laws by ministerial dictate. How is this surprising? Home Office regularly breaks human rights laws with impunity (e.g. DNA), even the treasury breaks laws when it wants (my pet hate, currency scams):

    Take a look at the Maastricht treaty section 101 which outlaws central banks buying government debt, or creating government overdrafts. This is there to prevent another collapsed currency.

    Bank of England QE is being used to buy government debt from the market to prop up the price, this is not legal, Bank of Englands response is to claim it is legal as long as it's being used to meet an inflation target. Yet inflation is above it's predicted targets and it's still using QE money to buy government debt. Lets not kid ourselves here, Brown is gambling he doesn't collapse the currency before an election.

    Read section 6, my comments in []

    "6. Are you not simply monetising government debt? Is there any economic distinction between buying government debt in the secondary market from buying it directly from the Government?"

    " The key point is that the Bank is not being forced to create money in order to cover the gap between the government’s tax income and its spending commitments [irrelevant]. If it were carried out to finance the budget deficit [no it's illegal for whatever reason], it would be a violation of Article 101 of the Maastricht Treaty (which the United Kingdom must abide by, even though it is not a member of the euro zone). Rather, the Bank is undertaking quantitative easing in order to meet the inflation target [inflation is ABOVE target] and will sell the government debt back to the private sector once the economy recovers, thus unwinding the original increase in the money supply [QE was done to PREVENT the decrease in money supply, so this 'unwinding' will never happen]."

    " Central banks routinely buy and sell government debt in the secondary market as part of their normal operations in the money markets and such operations are not deemed to amount to monetary financing under the Maastricht Treaty. The only thing that distinguishes quantitative easing from normal operations is their scale and the length of time for which the assets are likely to be held"

    Not only can the BOE *NOT* sell the gilts, routinely or otherwise, it can NOT STOP buying, because there is no market for government debt at that price and Brown continues to run the government at a huge deficit and will continue to do so right up to the election.

    So to pretend the BOE is just doing something routing is political bullshit, the Bank of England is not independent if it simply used to prop up Browns spending plans, and it needs to protect the currency, even from Brown & Darling.

    1. noboard

      Lord sounds like a good title

      "Lets not kid ourselves here, Brown is gambling he doesn't collapse the currency before an election."

      He's hoping he doesn't collapse the currency while he's in power. I'm pretty sure the worse thing for Labour and Brown is to stay in power for another five years as they won't be able to hold off a collapse for that long. At least if they lose the next election someone else deals with the fallout.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      The Money Problem is laid bare here...

      A wee bitty long for lunch time, but take it home and get educated :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I prefer this one

        Explains the same problem but in less than half the time:

        What a scam QE was, Parliament approved when it was supposed to buy undervalued assets in the market place. Yet the Bank of England, surprise surprise, buys government debt in violation of Maastricht 101. If the intention was to print money and use it to buy government debt, then why didn't Parliament approve *that* instead? Why were they not told the true story?

        Back to the topic, here we have Mandy trying *not* to pass a copyright law, rather he's trying to pass a law that will give him the power to write a copyright law. Yet if his intentions are pure then why can't Parliament debate them BEFORE he f***s up again and makes a bad law?

        Did Parliament get to vote on whether MI6 could assist in torture? Nope, some minister decided it in secret and tried to cover it up in secret.

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  3. Ian 10

    What about my brother

    No one that I am aware has asked the question - What if in a house hold a 18 year old infringes. The internet connection is not theirs alone. They have the right not to be monitored as they are over 18. Some ones human rights are going to suffer?

  4. Mike Bell

    Legal and Proportionate My Arse

    I'm looking forward to some MP downloading smut at the House of Commons and then having the whole building's internet access blocked because he violated their dumb copyright proposal.

    1. Iggle Piggle

      Indeed someone rights are being infringed

      and those are the rights of the copyright holder not to have their work blatantly copied around the internet with no consideration of their wishes.

      However I do agree that cutting off a shared service means that someone other than the perpetrator will suffer. Just as others, I have my concerns, people should not be cut off simply because the copyright holder believes their rights are being infringed. If they have some evidence that a specific IP address is hosting their material then hand that information over and then let the police follow the matter up.

      I'd be all for the idea of a warning, the commonly mentioned three strikes (which must be punctuated by warning letters). It would then be up to the householder to restrict access to the internet for the perpetrator. If they cannot do this, or are unwilling to then yes the entire household will suffer.

      But I hear the cries now "The Police should be out catching real criminals". This was the old war cry of the drunk driver and those that liked to drive recklessly.

      Let me put it another way. Suppose your household has a shared car. The 18 year old takes the car out, parks illegally and gets clamped. You are all going to suffer then too.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        the difference is

        that this is not a criminal offence, hence the police SHOULD be out catching real criminals

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 13:16

          Although I agree with your 1st two paragraphs in general principle, you wrecked it with the "it's people like you.... that allowed the Nazis..." part.

          I call Godwin's Law on you sir, and I hereby claim my Ten English Pounds.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Invalid Invocation of Godwin's Law.

            AC 13:16 made a legitimate reference to the German National Socialist party. Your invocation of Godwin is therefore null and void. You owe AC 13:16 £10 and you also owe me £10.

          2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Nazi people

              We have a rule in my house and down my local:

              Anyone who mentions the Nazis automatically looses whatever argument they are involved in.

              Therefore Iggle Piggle wins, you all loose - I mean seriously: Accusing someone of supporting a move to a fascist state or for wanting civillians to be blown up, just because they suggested that people who copy copyright material shouldn't be allowed to do so with impunity, is ignorant in the extreme. Just try to get things in perspective.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward


                isn't just one example. It is 13 years of creep. On top of all that has already been done or begun, that is in perspective. But 'totalitarian' is more accurate than 'fascist'.

                Meanwhile the point about 'Godwin'-ism is spot on. You could say that 'The Nazis: A Warning From History' would now be automatically ridiculed for Godwinism. Which is, frankly, fucking hilarious!

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            I call Sodwin's Law ... i.e. quoting Godwin's Law whenever totalitarianism is staring us in the face - and I claim my Twenty English pounds....

      3. copsewood

        @iggle piggle - What Right ?

        "and those are the rights of the copyright holder not to have their work blatantly copied around the internet with no consideration of their wishes."

        What right do copyright holders have if the laws supporting their vested and vocal interests are unenforceable and generally ignored ? Were London cabbies really supposed to keep bales of hay in their cab boots for horses long since retired until the 1970ies when this long obsolete law was finally revoked ? And should this question have been considered differently had the producers of hay bales owned the printing presses ?

        Copyright laws based upon 20 - 30 year terms prior to work entering the public domain, when these affected the behaviour of a few dozen rich owners of printing presses were proportionate. Copyright laws based incrementally on these earlier laws but extended to 50 - 90 years, theoretically affecting the behaviour of everyone capable of copying anything for any purpose whether profit making or not are treated with the contempt these deserve .

    2. MyHeadIsSpinning

      @Mike Bell

      MP's looking at animal pron will not result in the disconnection of the MP's internet.

      Parliamentary privilege.

      1. Sooty

        it certainly shouldn't

        lets not forget that animal porn is now 'Extreme!!!!' and punishable by death, erm, well near enough.

      2. Graham Dawson

        Parliamentary privilege stems from...

        ... the Bill of Rights. If they're going to hide behind the Bill of Rights, then I want back the right to be free from unlawful taxation in the form of parking fines and just about any form of payment made to the state not authorised by legislation and named as a tax (and so legislated and authorised, not being excessive).

        And as a practising protestant I want back my right to own a gun and shoot catholics.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I disagree.

        It'll be passed off as a fact finding mission.

  5. Mad Mike

    Badly Thought Out

    If a single user on a line breaches copyright all the time, why should everyone else get cut off? The owner of the line may not be the person doing the copyright breaches!! What are the major areas of copyright theft? Software, music and films. Which areas of the economy are responsible for the worst excesses of ripping off their customers? Software, music and films!! It's chicken and egg. Althought there are a few people who will refuse to pay for anything, most are more than happy to pay a reasonable amount for a product. However, in the past, software has been horifically overpriced, especially from major software houses, as has music and films. Now the gloves on the other hand and these businesses and governments can do anything they want to try and reduce copyright theft in these areas, but they will fail as there are simply too many options.

    Lesson to big business.............stop ripping your customers off and they'll stop ripping you off.

  6. ShaggyDoggy


    I don't like it that unelected people are trying to control my life.

    Mandelson, Adonis etc.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it obvious?

    The ID card will contain a "Can this person use the internet?" check bit.

    The card will need to be presented to any telecom or ISP the citizen wishes to subscribe to, and at cyber cafe's, hotels, etc to check that they are entitled to internet use (and a long list of other things they'll check for at the same time).

    Get banned from the net? Flip the bit in the ID card database, have your ISP disconnect you and it's bye bye internet.

    Anyone who knowingly or willing allows a banned person access to their internet connection will themselves become a criminal and have their internet access revoked, to be followed by a prison sentence or community service (digging ditches, filling in ditches). If you can't stop your banned teenage son from accessing your net connection, you are an unfit parent, in come social services, bye bye internet, bye bye children, bye bye freedom.

    Welcome to fascism 2.0

  8. Number6

    Lack of Detail

    The government is good at these blank cheque Bills, where they propose a skeleton framework as primary legislation and include provision to fill in the detail later, thus avoiding Parliamentary scrutiny of the fine print. This isn't the only Bill in the current crop going through Parliament that is like this, and full marks to the committee for demandming more detail. I would hope that they sit on it until the government fills in the blanks or calls an election, which will hopefully happen sooner.

  9. ShaggyDoggy


    And another thing ...

    Perhaps that "detail" could include how it is intended to identify and disconnect the person unlawfully downloading copyright material, when for example I live in flats and the router is shared by five of us.

    And while they're at it, exactly how is this copyright material identified as being copyright of whomever. I make quite a lot of my own material, which I make available, so that is copyright me. Somehow I have a feeling that someone (legally) downloading my material will get a letter saying they infringed Sony-BMG's copyright.

    And one other thing - how can they tell whether the material is being legally downloaded or not ?

    Ahhh .... a whitelist of sites where legal downloads can come from, the rest of us are crims !!

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    A blank sheet of paper is also ECHR compliant

    Which AFAIK is what this is. The Dark Lord (or his successors) has a statutory instrument he can play with at his leisure.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Sooty

      it's a good job

      then that nearly all wireless internet encryption, 99% of it out there, is crackable in minutes.

      Otherwise you'd have to go to all the trouble of getting someone you know to pay £5 or so for mobile internet dongle for you!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      and this is one i kind of agree on, if you let someone else use your internet connection, you are responsible for whatever they do with it!

      with the presumption that the police would be reasonable in investigating *real* allegations of a crime.

  11. blackworx
    Thumb Down

    "suspected file sharers"

    I hate that phrase. It implies file sharing itself is an illegal act.

  12. Richard Porter

    Big Fail

    The bill is badly flawed. In the first place you don't know who the (ab)user is - the IP address leads you to a customer but the user could be a child or a neighbour hacking into their wireless network, or even a drive-by. Yes, copyright needs to be protected, but the law as it stands is adequate. We only have 7.5M illegal filesharers because the neanderthal entertainment companies took no action until it was too late. Now they want the ISPs to do their dirty work.

    They just want money the easy way. That goes back for the demand for a levy on blank tape, which was thankfully resisted. They couldn't come up with a business mdel that would attract customers in big numbers. They charged prices comparable with CD or DVD distribution, but without the associated costs.

    What next? Will they want the Royal Mail to examine every packet in case it contains a CD or a DVD or a memory card containing copyright material? Will BT have to monitor telephone calls for illegal content and cut off customers? If they start putting the frighteners on ISP customers the culprits will just find other less detectable ways to share material.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah. Like...

      ...speaking up for a neighbour. As opposed to shopping one. Which if more than anything made me feel back in pre-perestroika, was what overwhelmingly condemned the Soviet experiment.

  13. mmiied


    at least somone is asking the obvious questions and actuley doing there job

  14. Russ Tarbox

    Looks like...

    ... I'll have to start buying my dodgy movies off that bloke down the market again ...

  15. JohnG Silver badge

    Fair trial, presumption of innocence and collective punishment

    It seems fairly obvious that this legislation has been promoted by the media organisations as they have found that civil actions requiring evidence are cumbersome and they would prefer a mechanism where a series of accusations is sufficient to ensure their desired outcome. However, it seems to have escaped Mandy's attention that there are now many lawyers in the UK specialising in human rights law - not least his cabinet colleague, the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland. The lack of a fair trial, including the presumption of innocence and the presentation of viable evidence and the collective punishment of innocent family members are likely to see this legislation discredited if ever used.

  16. Richard Porter

    Re: Legal and Proportionate My Arse

    One would expect corporate users including the Palace of Westminster to have firewalls that exclude p2p. Mind you, they were thinking about installing Vista, so I have no faith in their sanity or competence.

  17. The BigYin


    If the sharing breaches the copy-holders right and they have the evidence to back that up, then they take the offender to court or they convince the police to arrest and then it goes to court. Just like any other crime, pretty much.

    Anything else is inexcusable and a serious attack on what we take as legal process in this country.

    I don't illegally file share - quite frankly I can buy enough cheap DVDs legally and record enough legally over the air to struggle to keep up!

  18. yoinkster

    the bit that scares me

    is where you say that it will be copyright holders telling ISPs they *believe* someone has infringed their copyright.

    It's fucking rediculous. Roll on widespread and quick encrypted networks. Tor FTW.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You might want to try The Pirate Bay's new VPN service. I signed up the other day (15eur for 3 months) and it's REALLY REALLY fast -- 2MB/second upload and download.

      If Mandy won't give us privacy, we'll have to take it whether he likes it or not.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    mandy is all for human rights

    Are we SERIOUSLY even debating whether Mandy's bill is human rights friendly? If you take the internet away from anyone in this country it's WORSE than taking away their driving license -- it's like cutting off their legs!

    It doesn't just take away their right to free speech, it cripples them from functioning at all in society, and it can only get worse as more services move online.

    And to do it for something as PETTY as copyright violation is ridiculous. It just shows how much money and power the entertainment (entertainment!?) industry lobbyists have, and how greedy they are -- they just want to squeeze every last penny out of joe public.

    I'm appalled that our government hasn't thrown this trash out yet. I'm talking about Mandy and all his lobbyist friends. Probably shows that our entire government is trash, and that means we really are in trouble!

    Paris, because she likes playing with Mandy's bill.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Shared connections, you're all missing the real point....

    Those of you on shared connections, "How are they going to tell who did the deed on a shared connection?". They can't and they don't care!

    You see the biggest weapon the oppressive govs have is paranoia. No one wants to be the one who got the net connection shut down by ripping stuff off, so you instantly start getting paranoid about what everyone else is up to. You may even start spying on them and ultimately reporting them before they report you! Remind you of a very large nation state some 30 years ago that spans from Europe right across to Asia? Yep, Uncle Joe Stalin's wonderful ideas alive and well under NuLabour!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:Innocent family members

    This is a poorly thought out piece of legislation and not one I am in favour of.

    However to claim that because a family of >1 may suffer because one member breaks the law that it is disproportionate, collective and infringes human rights is rather nonsensical.

    Assuming a family of 4, Dad, Mum, Son and Daughter. Mum pays for the broadband from her salary and all 4 members use it. Mum does work stuff, Dad gets recipes and household management tips, son wastes his life on social networking sites and daughter downloads stuff she shouldn't really be downloading like music and films and porn.

    Then The Dark Lord's minions cotton onto this and send a warning to Mum. It is at that point up to Mum to find out who is infringing TDL's decrees and put a stop to it. If she doesn't then she will get another warning, then another, then disconnected.

    Now, OK one person is infringing and all are punished, however firstly it is up to the parents to do some fucking parenting - it's not that difficult people and secondly TDL, his minions and the ISP are only dealing with Mum here, anyone else wanted broadband then they should have bought their own.

    To call this collective punishment is as absurd as allowing drink drivers to keep their license on the basis that if they can't drive then they can't drive their kids 100 yards to school so the poor children are being punished, collectively. Or sending real criminals to prison is an infringement of their children's human rights because they are being deprived of a parent and possibly a wage earner.

    The legislation is bollocks, but carping on about human rights and collective punishments is just absurd. Fight the legislation because it is just wrong, not because you are a mouth-frothing fuckwit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i would have said this was silly

      until i talked to someone at work with kids, i was amazed to find out that you pretty much need internet access to even send your kids to school nowadays.

      My background, even doing computing courses since '94-95, was that it was always optional, even doing a software engineering degree 2000ish, owning a computer was not needed. it was merely a convenience,

      now it seems you can't even get through primary school without net access, i'm not quite sure what happened, but certainly removing it would severely impact a lot of children's schooling. And since children are the most likely to be caught downloading 'generic girl band no #' they are the ones most likely to be cut off.

      If cutting off net access will impact a child's education, you know all those people on benefits who already get free laptops, free net access, free houses, free food, free sky, etc for having endless numbers of children, those with no money who will be most likely to be downloading stuff illegally, what are they to do about it!

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Daughter downloading p()rn?

      That'll make a change from the accepted norm...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Why cut access?

    Why not just force the ISP to hobble the Internet speed to dial-up?

    That way the 'offender' still has access to basic web info but is unlikely to bother with torrents.

    A bit like a stop and go penalty in F1, only for longer, say 3-6 months at a time.

    The 'offender' can then still pay the ISP for access*, even if it's slowed.

    * while on contract

    AC, because you guys are savage sometimes.

  23. blackworx
    Big Brother

    ...either don't have the Dark Lord's contact details, or his "mailbox is full".

    What a surprise.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Just like Virgin Media

      Virgin Media do this to me between the hours of 5 and midnight every day which, incidentally, is the only time I get to use the internet. And all I do is play WoW.

      Maybe VM are already in The Dark Lord's pocket..?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "...either don't have the Dark Lord's contact details, or his "mailbox is full".

      They only have addresses for people in *this* dimension.

  24. Dave Bell

    Punishment by allegation

    At the very least, this bill should require copyright holders to present evidence to some sort of independent tribunal before action is taken against a person. It doesn't need to be a court. It shouldn't be done privately.

    The American DMCA at least specifies a clear procedure for a copyright holder to issue a notice, and for that notice to be challenged. The notice is made "under penalty of perjury". It hasn't stopped abuses from happening, but the end result is that an author can issue a notice and expect it to be acted on.(A friend did this a few days ago.)

    This doesn't look like a case of "We didn't think of that." It looks like a willful refusal to think.


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