The recently introduced Digital Economy Bill that was ushered into parliament via the Queen's Speech on 19 November has sparked numerous protests from consumer rights groups across Britain.

A petition to Number 10 against the bill has already generated over 11,000 signatures, with many up in arms over the suggestions that persistent illegal filesharers will have their internet connections suspended should they not change their copyright-infringing ways.

The fear is that by cracking down hard on a minority of persistent online pirates, the government might be committing a 'baby and bathwater' error, by effectively stifling innovation and technological progress for the majority of Brits.

The petition on the Number10.gov.uk website that calls for the abolition of Peter Mandelson's proposal to disconnect illegal filesharers has gained considerable traction since Stephen Fry urged his million-plus Twitter followers to sign up.

Fry tweeted last week: "Dear Mandy, splendid fellow in many ways, but he is SO WRONG about copyright. Please sign and RT."

Trusting bureaucrats?

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: "It's quite a shocking bill. We're extremely worried about it.

"It could destabilise business and destabilise innovation… It means entirely trusting to bureaucrats and politicians to get it right."

By way of response the government has posted "Filesharing: some accusations and some answers" on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills webpage which says that the Digital Economy Bill was in no way a response to music industry lobbying.

The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has issued the following statement:

"Rather than focusing blindly on enforcement, the government should be asking rights holders to reform the licensing framework so that legal content can be distributed online to consumers in a way that they are clearly demanding."

Via BBC