IT Crowd joins attack on piracy bill

An unlikely gang of celebrities, politicians and geeks have sent an open letter to the UK government saying the Digital Economy Bill “threatens to severely infringe fundamental human rights”.

The group includes IT Crowd writer Graham Linehan, musician Billy Bragg, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, as well as ISP Association chief Nicholas Lansmann, TalkTalk director of regulation Andrew Heaney, Open Rights Group executive director Jim Killock and a dozen other campaigners and politicians.

The controversial bill is chiefly designed to force ISPs to police copyright infringement on their networks. It includes the “three strikes” rule, which would see persistent pirates lose their Internet connections or have bandwidth severely throttled.

The letter adds goes on to condemn “new 'website blocking' laws that could result in new ways to suppress free speech and legitimate activity. There are also dangers to business, through restrictions on provision on open wi-fi networks, that could damage our economy.”

The Government is currently trying to fast-track the legislation through the so-called 'wash-up' process, in order to get the law enacted before Parliament is dissolved for the general election early next month.

"Democracy and accountability will be sidestepped if this bill is rushed through and amended without debate," the letter reads.

Last week, over 10,000 people emailed their MPs to condemn the the bill, according to the Open Rights Group, which is holding a protest at Westminster on Wednesday.