Business internet piracy Regs

Digital Economy Bill, hotels and Andrew Dismore MP on human rights

The Digital Economy Debate has generated a flurry of responses today – no doubt people getting messages out of the way before the rugby this weekend!

Firstly the UK hotel industry, via its mouthpiece the British Hospitality Association, has issued a press release expressing grave concern that their members could have their internet access cut off because of the illegal activities of naughty guests.

The miscreants will of course have long checked out by the time the long arm of the law reached out to behind the reception desk.

From personal experience (of having hundreds of hotels as customers and not of Torrenting whilst staying at them) hotels are particularly prone to guests taking advantage of the internet in the room to download material via P2P.

A long long time ago, way before Timico, I worked for Mitel who had at that time something like 80% of the UK hotels using their phone systems. Research in those days suggested that 90% of all internet surfing out of hotels was to pornographic websites. It was more unusual for people to have broadband at home and access from the office was strictly filtered.

So the BHA now joins the Educational system in wanting immunity from prosecution under the Digital Economy Bill. McDonalds will be next. At this rate a large part of the UK broadband estate will be seeking immunity from the Bill.

Also speaking out today is Parliament’s own Joint Select Committee on Human Rights which says the Government’s response to the problem of illegal file-sharing in the Digital Economy Bill may have created over-broad powers.

Andrew Dismore MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “Illegal file sharing is itself a breach of important rights, but the concern we have with this Bill is that it lacks detail. It has been difficult, even in the narrow area we have focussed on, to get a clear picture of the scope and impact of the provisions. The internet is constantly creating new challenges for policy-makers but that cannot justify ill-defined or sweeping legislative responses, especially when there is the possibility of restricting freedom of expression or the privacy of individual users.”

At least people are starting to shout louder. Andrew Dismore MP seems to have his head screwed on.

If you want to keep up to speed on the debate in the Lords go here.