Digital economy bill becomes law (ed. File Sharing Site may be shut down)
By Ian Dunt economy bill becomes law
The controversial digital economy bill won its third and final reading tonight, by 189 votes to 47.
MPs started debating for the remaining stages of the bill just before 21:00 BST. Toward 23:00 BST the government easily passed its amendments with a majority of 157. The final vote came at 23:15.
The legislation allows for websites hosting the filesharing of pirated material to be shut down.
The government has promised further consultation on the matter after the election. There have also been a number of concessions, with persistent copyright offenders only suffering action on the basis of clear evidence.
Civil libertarians, privacy advocates, and many internet users are up in arms at the bill, which they see as an infringement of online freedom betraying a fundamental lack of understanding of how the internet works.
"The social and cultural impact is not being teased out," said Tom Watson, former parliamentary secretary at the Cabinet Office.
"The whole thrust of this bill is to reduce illegal infringement. That's a slightly naive way of doing it when what we should be having is a carrot and stick approach."
But proponents say the measure will save jobs, by protecting Britain's creative industries from the piracy which is hitting revenue streams across the sector.
MPs from all parties expressed frustration that such a controversial bill was given so little parliamentary time because of the election campaign.