Hundreds are expected to gather outside Parliament this evening to protest against the Digital Economy Bill
Hundreds of people are expected to gather in front of Parliament at around 5.30pm today, to protest against Government plans to cut people's internet connections and allow web blocking.
Protesters will hold up black placards and will be gagged or blindfolded, symbolising the disconnection penalties and censorship that will become law if the Digital Economy Bill is passed by Parliament.
In its current form the Bill allows disconnection for alleged copyright infringement, web blocking and presents a very serious threat to open wireless networks.
Despite the huge controversy these clauses have generated, there are serious fears that the Bill will be pushed through Parliament without proper scrutiny or debate.
This is known as ‘wash up’ and Jim Killock, executive director of The Open Rights Group (Org) said: “We are appalled that the basic tool of our society – the internet – could be taken away from people because of copyright infringement.
“We are even more appalled that this could all happen without democratic scrutiny, especially after revelations that industry lobbyists have been writing chunks of the Bill, and at least one Lord failed to declare an interest in the amendment put forward.”
The Digital Economy Bill has sparked huge controversy since it was published in November last year. Opponents to the Bill believe that disconnection from the internet and web blocking threatens freedom of speech and would allow censorship.
They also warned that without the appropriate legal scrutiny the Government’s plans will criminalise innocent people and prevent them from conducting their lives, work or education online.
The Org, which is leading the campaign against the Bill, said Harriet Harman is expected to tell Parliament tomorrow if this will happen.
“Harman will have to say whether the scandalous levels of lobbying, insertion of web blocking clauses by the BPI and at least one Lord failing to declare an interest make any difference to Parliament: or whether the Bill can be rammed through without scrutiny during ‘wash up’,” the civil rights body said.
According to the Org, more than 12,000 members of the public have sent letters to their MPs urging them to demand a debate over the controversial Bill in the House of Commons.
As well as today's protest the organisation is continuing to urge people to lodge their protest at the 38 Degree website or to email their MP.
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