Digital Bill Protesters Plan April Fool Flashmob

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Moves to push the Digital Economy Bill through parliament make a joke of democracy, says Open Rights Group

Protesters against the Digital Economy Bill are planning a flashmob on Thursday 1 April, to object to government plans to speed the Bill through Parliament on April 6.

We are being made fools of, says ORG

The Stop Disconnection flashmob, organised by the Open Rights Group, will meet in a Central London location at 12.20pm on April Fools Day, to express concerns about the Digital Economy Bill, which would allow copyright owners to have suspected file-sharers cut off from the Internet.

“Are we being made fools of? Is our democracy a joke? And who’s making that joke?,” ask the event organisers. who request that protesters bring black tape “to censor yourself with”.

The Digital Economy Bill is being rushed through Parliament before the election, despite protests that it infringes citizens’ rights and is not being discussed fully. The Bill would allow copyright owners to ask for court orders that would require Internet providers to disconnect users accused of illegally sharing copyright material online.

Protesters say this interferes with rights, is disproportionate – given the fact that several countries including Spain now consider Internet access a human right. Service providers including TalkTalk have said the Bill would also be very likely to result in unfair disconnections given the difficulty in telling who is sharing the files on shared connections to the Internet, and the possibility of spoofing IP addresses.

The difficulty in proving that illegal file-sharing has taken place was illustrated today, when the Crown Prosecution Service dropped a piracy case against Matthew Wyatt, who was 17 when he was accused of using the Oink BitTorrent site to share three albums and one single.

The case also illustrates the disproportionate nature of anti-piracy measures, say Wyatt’s supporters. It was scheduled to be heard in a criminal court rather than a civil court, which would normally hear similar copyright cases. “The IFPI wanted to make an example of Matthew Wyatt,” said David Cook, the solicitor who represented Wyatt.