UK hacks attack Digital Economy Act

The National Union of Journalists will support changes to the controversial Digital Economy Act which was rushed through Parliament in the wash-up period before the recent general election, without consultation.

The powerful union has formulated a policy that will see it support opposition to the Act, such as that led by Internet service provider TalkTalk, in the courts.

The Act proposes, amongst other things, that connections which have been identified by Big Media as being involved in file-sharing activity should be cut off without recourse to proper legal channels using a 'three strikes' system.

A report at Journalism.co.uk says that that as-yet-unpublished policy reads: "The measures in the Digital Economy Act are a form of protectionism by the existing entertainment industry, which has been self-destructively slow in adapting to new technology. The initial growth of illegal mp3 sharing, for example, was due to the failure to provide a legal alternative."

Here are the proposals in full:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.