Another day, another authoritarian measure from our timid Government. In the past few years, we've seen them put the wishes of the US Government over protecting its own citizens (Gary McKinnon especially, then it failed to properly regulate the banking system which threatened us all and brought the global economy to the edge of a very nasty precipice. Then it decided to give the Police powers to lock up anyone they vaguely suspected might be a terrorist for up to 3 months before being forced down to a still grossly excessive 42. Now it's pandering to the record industry on illegal downloading with a measure that is so draconian and could affect every single person who uses the internet.
If someone commits a crime, then there is a legal process to be gone through in which they are tried on the basis of the evidence and if found guilty are punished for their actions. That's fair enough. If, for example, I punched someone, unlikely though that is for a peace loving hippy like me, then I'd deserve some sort of sanction. My husband and daughter wouldn't, though.
This Labour Government thinks so little of its citizens that it's prepared to introduce a measure that will enable my access to the internet, and my daughter's to be cut off if my husband downloads music. Am I supposed to stand over Stephen when he comes to our house and uses our internet to make sure he doesn't slyly download something illegally. Not that I ever think he would. What about all the people with unsecured wireless connections who are blissfully unaware that someone with a netbook at the bus stop outside their house can probably connect to their internet and do what they like?
The immediate threat from this bill is that it's basically going to go through on the nod without proper discussion in the Commons as it's had most of its discussion in the unelected House of Lords. Normally it would have to be debated in the Commons but because of the impending election, there's a process called the wash up in which outstanding legislation is carved up by the whips and passed on a line by line basis.
This Bill threatens too many freedoms and gives ministers way too much power for it to go through on the nod. It should be discussed properly by the House of Commons. If you agree, get in touch with your MP. Here are some helpful suggestions on what to say.
Unsurprisingly, it's the Liberal Democrats who have done most to stand up for freedom
with a splendid emergency motion from Bridget Fox and Julian Huppert, PPCs for Islington South and Finsbury and Cambridge respectively, who showed exactly why they should be MPs.
They will protect the child who uses the internet to do their homework, or the woman for whom it is a lifeline from the violence meted out to her by her partner. People shouldn't be punished for things they have not committed. End of story.
It's time to force Peter Mandelson to put away his scissors. Get to it!