More on the progress of the Digital Economy Bill

A previous post summarised the controversial amendment which permitted the blocking of internet access on application to the High Court. While this amendment came in for much criticism, it replaced something arguably worse: a provision which would have given the Government the power to amend copyright legislation by secondary legislation, that is without full Parliamentary scrutiny (these little darlings are sometimes referred to as Henry VIII clauses and the Lords has a long history of sniffing them out).
Whilst some of us may appreciate the Lords’ attempts to pay attention to democracy and ue process, the Lords who introduced the amendment have – despite broad support for the proposal in the Lords – withdrawn it, following criticism that it was unworkable. The Government has promised a re-draft, but one which – wait for it – gives power to the Secretary of State to achieve the same effect through the drafting of more detailed regulations. Lord Clement Jones, who was one of those behind the amendment, commented that he hoped the Government proposals would not constitute a reintroduction of the original ministerial powers contained in the Bill’s Clause 17, which his amendment replaced.
No doubt there will be more discussion on this point especially, as Lord Clement Jones noted, consultation of all stakeholders is likely to be required.

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