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UK to announce website blocking proposals "imminently"

The UK's Digital Economy Act, while enacted into law, is currently 'inactive'. But website blocking measures are thought to be introduced "imminently".
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

Enter the UK's equivalent of SOPA: the Digital Economy Act 2010.

During a parliamentary hearing on intellectual property, a politician reminded attendees that Ofcom, the UK's broadband and phone regulator, is seeking to enact website blocking measures.

Mark Prisk MP, the business minister, said that an announcement would be "imminent". No details were given, but he did say that the proposals would be "welcome"; to whom, exactly, is unclear. It's likely that the industry will benefit, while the general public get very little say in the matter, and technology giants such as Google will face complying with the law or face fines.

Internet analyst Dr. Monica Horten transcribed Prisk's words:

"We need an IP system that helps business and consumers to realise all the opportunities presented, which is why we are actively supporting the UK’s creators and the creative industries and why, to benefit creators, we voted in Europe to extend the term of protection for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years --- a really  important step for originators of music and other sound recordings. It is also why […] we pressed to introduce measures to tackle online infringement of copyright through the Digital Economy Act 2010."

"We are closely considering the issue around the blocking access, whether to block access to websites that infringe copyright. We will have something to say about that shortly, but, as I would like to continue to have a positive working relationship with my ministerial colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, I shall not pre-empt what they are about to say. An announcement is imminent, and I think that it will be welcomed."

The law was introduced two years ago in the 'guillotine' period between two government administrations, and voted in by less than one-tenth members of Parliament in the space of two hours.

Considering it could spell the end to the free and open British web, it is one of many reasons why the law is controversial, and why so many are frustrated and angry. Also, as discovered late last year, the UK government had "no evidence" for the Digital Economy Act, leading many to question why the law was brought out in the first place.

Seeing as Spain, Sweden and Estonia have all been pestered by the U.S. government to apply changes to their respective legal systems, it would not be a surprise if the UK followed suit, with or without overt pressure.

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