If you live in the UK, or more precisely, you live on the internet but you eat, sleep and work in the UK, you may have heard of a little thing called the ‘Digital Economy Bill’. Why do I say that you have to live on the internet to know about it? Simply, it’s been put through incredibly quietly and without much media coverage. Only through the outrage of the British online community I have heard about it, and it’s just about the only thing in British politics that’s put me into an apocalyptic rage.
So you may or may not have heard of it. For the benefit of those who haven’t, and I wouldn’t blame you, it is a bill that will block file sharing, any online content suspected of copyright infringement, and even cut off the internet of those who may or may not be guilty of noncompliance without a trial. If that wasn’t bad enough, the government will have the power to levy massive fines on internet providers who allow circumvention, even accidentally. The definition of “provider” includes anybody who gives internet access to the public, including public Wi-Fi providers. If a user on a Wi-Fi connection in, for example, a café, broke the terms of this bill, the café could then be fined a huge figure. Would a business as such therefore take the risk of even having internet access? Of course not. What about content providers such as Youtube and Google? They would have to filter their content and results, resulting in – at best – the absolute massacre of online content.
Welcome, then, to the death of the public internet. Content sieved by politicians in the record company’s pockets and brought straight to you along a government-approved connection. Welcome to the dark ages of the internet.