Digital Economy Bill passed third reading in House of Commons
The Digital Economy Bill has passed third reading in the House of Commons at around 23:00 last night, with the dropping of clauses 18 (preventing access to specified online locations for the prevention of online copyright infringement) and 43 (orphan works) being the only significant changes. The Guardian notes that although clause 18 was dropped, an addition was made to clause 8 which gives ministers the ability to order blocking of a particular website.
Although both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat party front benches were quick to criticise the government for the handling of the bill, pointing out that it could have been brought to the house earlier to allow for more debate, only 47 members of parliament voted against the bill at third reading with over 189 in favour. During the debate, the chamber was quite empty at times, with one MP intimating that colleagues were waiting outside to push the bill through.
This leaves in place provisions for Internet Service Providers to send letters to those accused of copyright infringement and to apply 'technical measures', including limiting access, subject to further regulation on the matter.
The bill will now pass to the House of Lords to consider the recent amendments, although it is expected to pass into law prior to the general election.