Of all the UK broadband providers, TalkTalk has been most vocal in its opposition to the laws therein. Although, it’s fair to say that it’s actually pretty unpopular with all telecoms firms for both fiscal and ethical reasons.
In case you’ve not been following things, the act is aimed at stamping out illegal file-sharing. TalkTalk’s bone of contention is that it forces ISPs to monitor their customers usage and clamp down on wrong-doers by cutting their connection speeds and – even more dread – disconnecting them from the internet entirely.
And while that’s very worrying for both us and providers for reasons you can read about here, the NUJ is concerned for an altogether darker reason. And this is that the Act could be employed by the government to clamp down on the likes of Wikileaks – in so doing suppressing information that’s in the public interest.
That the NUJ is wholly committed in its opposition is underlined by the fact that it has pledged to fight the act in the courts if required. And it’s drawn up a list of principles outlining how it plans to go forward too, as reported by Journalism.co.uk.
Here they are in full:
Any measures to allow the blocking of websites must be implemented in such a way that fully protects the freedom of information and expression. Sites that link incidentally to illegally-distributed material, such as search engines, or that inadvertently distribute material illegally, such as sites based on user-generated content or free wifi providers, should be exempted from the provisions. The possibility of a public interest defence should be made explicit in the implementation of the Act's provisions.
The NUJ should work with colleagues in the FEU [Federation of Entertainment Unions] to support new ways to make entertainment pay as an alternative to the counter-productive repressive measures in the Digital Economy Act. Many of these will include online systems where there are NUJ members or potential members.
The union should support, in principle, efforts to challenge the Act in the courts to ensure that any measures that are implemented are fair and consistent with international law.
That the Act is open to use is in no doubt, so we’re fully behind the union on this one. And remember: In the six months that Wikileaks was closed recently, the web was a much, much duller place. It’s only by ensuring that the guiding internet principles of net neutrality are upheld that we’ll keep it vibrant and vital.