Digital laws and the wash up

As feared, the Lords did not seek to prevent the passage into law of the badly drafted and ill thought through Digital Bill I spoke about earlier in the week. Only the Lords could have stopped this Bill, given the determination of Labour to use its majority to put it through.

Some people seem to think that in the wash-up the government cannot get its way. This is only true if the government behaves well, and starts to restrain itself. If a government, which still has a large majority in the Commons, can avoid losing any votes in the Lords, it can still carry its legislation on a much shortened timetable, as we have seen this week.

A more democratic government would have understood the public anger about some of the measures, and understood the wisdom of those of us who urged more debate and less legislation, voting against the government’s steam roller timetable motion.

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10 Comments

  1. Nick
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    So are you pledging an immediate repeal?

    reply: I would be happy to, but the Conservative front bench points out the unpleasant bits need Orders to bring them in so they think there is no need to.

    • Mark
      Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      JR – It's much safer to do as you would be happy to rather than to leave the cyanide in the medicine chest to be reached for when the murderer is in the mood for a couple of Statutory Instruments or Orders in Council. Put it in Carswell's general repeal bill.

  2. APL
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    JR: "Only the Lords could have stopped this Bill .. "

    Why does not Cameron issue a statement that any legislation passed in the last four weeks of the life of this parliament will automatically be repealed if a Tory administration is returned?

    This legislation is implementation of EU law and the Tory party support the European Union and all laws and regulations it demands we pass into domestic law. Zimples!

    It might be simples, but it ain't acceptable.

  3. cyberdoyle
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    It might have helped if a few more of them understood what the bill was all about.
    I was ashamed by their lack of knowledge, the false data and stats that were quoted and the lack of democracy. the farcical vote at the end will go down in history, and the conservatives were just as pathetic as labour. It is time for politicians to learn what the internet really is. This bill has set back our digital economy even further, and we are already playing catch up due to our obsolete infrastructure. I think this is a stitch up to let the copper cabal have another decade of milking the victorian phone network.

  4. Carol Whitaker
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your release from HMP Westminster and welcome back.
    Let's hope your parole is only temporary and you are soon returned to the house of sin as you are the kind of MP we need.

  5. adam
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Chinese Communist style Internet censorship
    thank EU

  6. Dan H.
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    You know, it would be nice if once, just once, our fine Parliament could actually try to understand just how the Internet works and how encryption-based services work.

    Consider, for instance, the Virtual Private Network (VPN). A user of a VPN connects to a VPN server over an encrypted link which cannot be trivially decrypted, and all of the user's network traffic appears on the Net via the VPN server. A good example of this is the service provided by SwissVPN; this is a company which runs large VPN servers in Switzerland.

    If a UK minister orders the blocking of a website, then if the website is hosted in the UK it is fairly trivial to block it (somewhat less trivial to block it to UK-only IP addresses). Assuming that the operator of the site doesn't feel like complying and moves the website's hosting to another machine outside Britain, then HM Government is then faced with trying to block access to this website from the UK in some way. The only easy way to do this would be via DNS hacks, which are trivially bypassed using DNS servers outside the UK. Firewalling is also possible, but country-level firewalls are also fairly trivially breached; just look at how porous the Great Firewall of China is.

    Over time, as the means of circumventing the UK's simpleminded hacks becomes more prevalent and knowledge of the levels of surveillance that UK ministers propose to try to impose becomes common knowledge, it will become the default to work via UK snooping work-arounds. This is a really bad state of affairs for the UK security services, since they do use Net snooping to garner quite a bit of information. It is also a bad state of affairs for HM Government since as soon as strong privacy and strong encryption becomes the norm, there's no going back and the UK Government is finally exposed as being a collection of incompetent, nosy buffoons.

    All the technologies needed to circumvent the proposed digital rights legislation already exist. Some, such as IMAPS and SSH, SCP, SFTP and RSYNC are used by default now simply to remove the risk of man-in-the-middle hack attacks and the like. Imposing Digital Rights Management snooping is only going to make legitimate national security sniffing impossible.

    Finally, you might like to have a look for a report published by the University of Washington on the effectiveness of American DMCA take-down notice spoofing. To summarise, they discovered that whilst the big media companies there do go looking for filesharers violating copyright, these companies are remarkably easy to spoof and can be induced to send take-down notices to such innocent devices as print servers and the like. If you choose to impose spying systems that look for filesharers, please don't make the blocking of the supposed filesharer an automated process, or the race will be on to see who can get the most MPs, government agencies and similar blocked for supposed filesharing.

    • nitrambo
      Posted April 9, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree… this Government is behaving as ignorant luddites pent on getting a cheap headline at the expense of creating chaos in the IT industry (again) and criminalising many innocent service users… pathetic.

  7. Ian B
    Posted April 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I do not understand this "wash up" process. Should not lawmaking be suspended in this period? Is there anything short of a military situation that cannot wait a few weeks?

  8. ffxiv gil
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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