What the Digital Economy Act means for the web

As a Web Developer I’m obviously interested in developments to the laws that police the web’s use. Therefore back in 2010 I was particularly interested in the Digital Economy Act (DEA).

At the time it was being discussed web users such as myself were very interested to see what the Government had planned. Twitter was filled with heated debate over the topic under the hashtag #DEBill. Personally I was and still am against the law, but more on that later.

In the end the talk didn’t seem to matter. I watched on as the bill was passed late one night with few members present to witness its creation. The whole situation gave me the feeling that it was a law passed by those who knew little about the Internet from a technical perspective and what ramifications it could have in the years to come – a similar feeling I get whenever a digital based law is passed (the age old ripping a CD to your personal computer scenario springs to mind).

So why am I against the act? Don’t get me wrong, I understand that piracy is a crime, but it’s everything else the act stands for. Monitoring what we can and can’t access is a dangerous game for the Government to start playing. I for one don’t like the thought of my Government having control over the media I can and can’t access. Where is the line for what’s acceptable and what isn’t and will that line be moved as time goes by?

At this moment in time the DEA has yet to come into effect. The last I heard it was sat in Brussels waiting for the European Commission to approve changes. BT and TalkTalk have challenged the DEA but it looks like it has been in vain.

The day the act was passed I felt was one step closer to the Government’s hold over our media. It felt like another loss on the fight for free speech. I wait with anticipation and concern over where this leads us next.