Responses to Open Letter

These are the responses from the three candidates to the open letter I sent last night.  First the conservative, who deigned to visit upon my inbox all manner of HTML goodness (that’s sarcasm, I hate HTML formatted emails):

Dear Mr Browne
Thank you for your email. I’m afraid I’m not too well up with IT! However, I regret the fact that this Bill was rushed through the Commons with little time for us to scrutinise and debate it. I therefore hope that we can return to this matter after the election and look forwrd to doing so. But for now, thank you for letting me have your views.
Best wishes,
Laurence Robertson The Conservative Party Candidate

The Green Party response was sent in a plaintext email (thankfully!):

Dear Christopher

Thankyou for bringing these issues to my attention.

I am pleased to say that the Green Party propose laws that diminish, not
increase, copyright and intellectual property rights.

I agree with you that the powers brought in by the Digital Economy Act
represent an infringement of civil liberties, and I would oppose use of
these powers for that reason.

Of course, whilst criminals and abusers profit from cyberspace, measures
must be taken to protect the rest of us from their malicious use of it.
Achieving a balance between civil liberty and civil security is always
difficult, and I must confess that I am no expert on the matter. All I feel
prepared to say on this is that we should always be on guard against
'mission creep' in security measures, and be vigilant in safeguarding ourt
civil liberties

Were I elected I would join with others to vigorously oppose powers that
remove people from internet use in response to copyright violation. I feel
that this sets an alarming precedent.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Sidford

Finally, here is the response from Alistair Cameron, the Liberal Democrat candidate (multipart/alternative mime type):

Dear Mr Browne,

Thank you for contacting me about the Digital Economy Act and a number of of related issues.

We have been highly critical about the so called “wash-up” process which has enabled this Act to pass with limited Parliamentary scrutiny before the General Election. The “wash-up” of the Digital Economy Bill was essentially a carve up between the Labour and Conservative parties that ignored Liberal Democrat arguments to consult more widely before introducing a measure to introduce web-blocking for copyright infringement. Liberal Democrats voted against the Bill at 3rd Reading in the House of Commons and against the Labour and Conservatives web-blocking amendment in both the Lords and the Commons.

Liberal Democrats remain to be convinced about the necessity for technical measures, which could include disconnection from the internet. Liberal Democrats were successful in getting the Government to agree to a period of at least a year in which no technical measures can be considered and then to undertake a process of rigorous analysis and consultation into the need for any such measures. We also believe that the music, film and other content industries must work more urgently to develop easy and affordable ways for people to legally access their products.

The recent Liberal Democrat conference in March voted to establish a party working group to look into further detail about the issues raised by the Act.

You raised a number of related questions about the internet, cyber crime and cyber terrorism. I will need more time to get back to you with a considered response to these questions.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Alistair Cameron

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate

I’ll let you decide for yourself which is your favourite response.

The open letter is released under the same license as this entire blog (Creative Commons Share and Share Alike Attribution Non-commercial license).  The responses hold views that belong to the indicated parliamentary candidates; I accept no responsibility nor liability for their views.  On request from the owner or a person legally representing him/her, I will remove a response.  I have not edited and will not edit any of the responses for any reason whatsoever.


Open Letter to three Tewkesbury Candidates (Alistair Cameron, Laurence Robertson and Matthew Sidford)

Dear Tewkesbury Candidates (or at least, the ones who publish their email address),

I’m a constituent living in Tewkesbury, trying to decide who I should vote for on thursday.

I would like to know each of your opinions on the Digital Economy Act. I would like to know your more general opinion of Copyright vs Copyleft, and whether internet censorship is a justifiable enforcement of copyright law.

I would also like to know what operating systems you are each familiar with and to what extent you are familiar with each. After all, if you are passing legislation regarding digital media and the use/abuse thereof, I should hope you are at least aware of a significant range of operating systems, their distribution methods and their compatibility with Digital Rights Management.

The Internet, and legislation surrounding it, affects us all. I would like to be reassured that those who are creating this legislation understand the core principles of it. Concisely, what is the internet for?

Cybercrime and cyberterrorism are also immediate threats to the safety and welfare of United Kingdom residents. What safeguards are being taken to ensure users of the internet are protected against security crackers, malicious software, privacy invasion and internet-based attacks; do you feel the current legislation is sufficient? Does it protect without infringing on civil liberties?

Remote devices – such as smart phones, tablet PCs and laptops – often include Digital Rights Management software to prevent users from infringing copyright. Have you ever been unable to use any device in the way in which you want to due to this software? Do you think the software is justifiably restrictive?

There are many software platforms available on the market today, but the main three are NT (eg Microsoft Windows), BSD (eg Apple Mac OSX) and Linux (eg GNU/Linux). Which of these (or any other) do you use? Which of these (or any other) do you think represents the most accurate analogy for your political party, and why?

I look forward to hearing from you before the general election. I appreciate I may not receive my answers until after I have voted due to the busy nature of yourselves at this time.


Christopher Browne