UK’s Snap Election Approved – What About the Digital Economy Bill?

British parliamentarians have approved of Theresa May’s snap election. The question some may have is what will happen to the Digital Economy Bill?

We’ve been following the developments of the so-called “Digital Economy Bill” for a while now. When we first caught up with the bills progress, we noted that the bill would introduce 10 year prison sentences for alleged filesharers and institute strict age verification requirements for websites that offer explicit material.

The Open Rights Group has been fighting against the bill. As it reached the final stage before royal assent, the group blasted it as a privacy disaster.

Despite letter writing campaigns and efforts to raise awareness about the bill, it seemed to march ahead anyway with little debate about many of the controversial aspects. Things began looking like digital rights were about to take another hit in the UK because there were seemingly no obstacles for this bill.

That was until the snap election was called. Just yesterday, Britain’s parliament approved of the snap election. Now, the election will take place on June 8.

So, the question is, what will happen to the Digital Economy Bill? Will it die on the order-paper even though it is so far along in the process? As it turns out, things aren’t exactly clear on that front. The BBC sheds some light on the matter:

Over the ensuing week, Parliament will have to finalise or bin the remaining legislation still passing through Westminster…

There are a few bills at ping-pong stage at the moment bouncing between the Lords and Commons in search of final agreement. What normally happens in these circumstances is that the government seeks as much agreement as possible, and drops controversial parts of the legislation to get the rest through – a process known in Westminster slang as the “washup”.

And on this occasion their lordships will only be sitting for four days next week, and, just possibly Tuesday 2 May – and the limited time strengthens their lordships’ hand, because if they continue to object to a bill, it will fall if no agreement can be reached.

So, where is the Digital Economy Bill at right now? According to the UK parliamentary website, it is currently getting ready to enter the ping-pong stage. This stage will take place next Wednesday, April 26. If this is the initial stage for the bill, then that gives lawmakers about 2 weeks to hash out remaining issues. Given that a lot of the controversial issues aren’t controversial for the government, it’s still very likely that the bill will make it through unless something unexpected happens.

We will keep an eye on things to see if the bill receives royal assent during the washup.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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