Our previous blog article:
Digital Economy Bill 2009 seeks to crush UK Internet Domain Registry industry with bureaucratic red tape and unfair legal costs
was almost correct in its analysis of just how appallingly badly draughted clauses 18 to 20 of the notorious twice disgraced, unelected, Labour Minister Mandelson's Digital Economy (destruction of) Bill was, as originally published:
HL Deb, 26 January 2010, c1394
Digital Economy Bill [HL]
House of Lords debates, 26 January 2010, 9:15 pm
Lord Young of Norwood Green (Government Whip (technically a Lord in Waiting, HM Household); Labour)
I turn to the amendments in question. Following representations made by the industry, the Government realised that the scope of the domain name provisions in the Bill could have unintended consequences.
Unintended Consequences of proposed legislation, which obviously damages the UK Economy, should be a Resignation Matter for this incompetent Labour Government's First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade i.e. the pompously titled Peter Mandelson - Baron Mandelson, of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham.
Having so many newly created long titles does not mean that anyone should show any respect or deference to this scheming "champagne socialist" Labour politician, who appears to spend more time enjoying the luxury hospitality of dodgy foreign billionaires, than that of to his supposedly "working class" Labour supporters.
Specifically, the definitions in Clause 18 as currently drafted would bring any organisation or company in the UK that runs its own name server within the scope of the powers-that was not intended.
We did not initially spot the enormous significance of this, but thankfully other people did in time !
This would have meant hundreds of thousands of companies, organisations and individuals who run their own Domain Name Servers, even just for their own private networked computers not directly connected to the internet, being defined as a "domain name registry".
Similarly, the UK-based domain name registry operations of some third countries are also caught. Again, that is not what the Government had in mind when they proposed this draft legislation.
We certainly spotted this evil aspect of the Bill, which would have forced or encouraged these companies to flee from the United Kingdom to less bureaucratic, less potentially legally risky legal jurisdictions, almost anywhere else in the world.
This would also have lead to expensive international court cases, and probably trade sanctions against the UK, due to what would be seen as the UK Government's attempt to nationalise the intellectual property of foreign sovereign countries, whose top level internet domain names are just as important to them, as the .UK name space is to us.
It is still very wrong, that the Bill still includes the concept that a Manager appointed by Mandelson or his successors, supposedly in circumstances to defend a crisis affecting the national security of the entire UK digital economy, is to have his arbitrary fees paid for by the "property" of the domain registry on which he has been inflicted. This includes the legal costs of any Court action taken by the domain name registry against the Government or its appointed Manager "cuckoo", a process which is , effectively, nationalisation by the Government.
If these legal powers are, as claimed, really only reserve powers for times of national crisis, then they should be paid for by the public purse. What else are the Government's emergency financial reserves meant to be used for ?
The threat of such an unknown potentially very expensive financial burden is, thankfully, now much reduced, because the Government has yielded to the furore which it's incompetent Clauses 18 to 20 has stirred up, by adding the word "qualifying" in front of "domain name registry" or "registry".
In theory any company or organisation or individual could still be designated as "qualifying", but this would be much more likely to be successfully legally challenged, than the original, universal without exception, wording.
Another example of the clueless incompetence, or the last minute rush, of the original draughting of this Bill is the fact that the Government has also had to amend the wording "internet portal addresses" to "internet protocol addresses" !
See the Tech and Law blog for a marked up copy of the Digital Economy Bill. showing the changes from the original
Why is British legislation not always marked up with such changes like this officially ?
there are still plenty of other controversial aspects of this Digital Economy Bill, centered of Copyright and the collateral economic and social damage to families and businesses likely to be caused by the unfair internet disconnection enforcement measures vaguely outlined in the Bill.
These are likely to breach various fundamental human rights see Lillian Edwards Open Rights Group blog entry HL Committee on the Digital Economy Bill.