The Digital Economy Act was being passed around like a hot potato during a live debate between the three main UK political parties today, as each was asked to justify the fairness of the legislation.
During the online audio debate, climate change secretary Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat chief of staff Danny Alexander, and shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt all did their best to blame each other for the Act, which contains the controversial 'three strikes' policy to cut off the internet access of suspected illegal downloaders.
The questions posed ahead of the debate included: "Can you guarantee that, given the recent (very rushed) passing of the Digital Economy Act, those that have received poorly evidenced demands using volume legislation methods (such as ACS:Law and Tilly Bailey Irvine) will have the threat of court action remedied? " and "Why did you pass the Digital Economy Bill without proper debate and consideration of all its implications?"
Speaking on behalf of the Tories, Hunt came out firmly against the Act, agreeing that it was rushed through and pointing to a "light timetable for the last six months" in which it could have been properly debated.
He also cited the absence of a proper House of Commons scrutiny stage, allowing a small group of MPs to thoroughly dissect the proposals.
Hunt referred to the most contentious parts of the act - blocking access to certain web sites and cutting off the internet access of those accused of illegal downloading - as areas of significant change that merited further scrutiny.
"I think it was an absolute disgrace," he said. "I think it could have really done with that extra debate."
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