Page last updated at 18:12 GMT, Monday, 15 March 2010

Digital Economy Bill approved by House of Lords

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Peers have passed the Digital Economy Bill, which aims to combat internet piracy by bringing in internet bans for persistent illegal file-sharers, after completing debate on the bill at third reading.

It will now pass to the House of Commons for further consideration.

On 15 March 2010, junior minister Lord Young of Norwood Green promised further concessions on a controversial "catch-all" clause.

The clause, formerly Clause 17 and now Clause 18, would have allowed ministers wide powers to amend copyright law to respond to future technological changes.

Peers defeated the government earlier this month, by 165 to 140, when they replaced the clause with new arrangements, involving the courts, which could force internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent access to specified online locations.

This too proved controversial with internet companies, with Google, Yahoo, Facebook, internet service providers, consumer rights campaigners and academics last week voicing their objections in a letter to the Financial Times.

They warned that it would "threaten freedom of speech and the open internet".

Liberal Democrat media spokesman Lord Clement-Jones, who had led the moves for the replacement clause, tonight offered "clarifications and improvements" to meet the critics' concerns but did not put them to the vote.

Lord Young said at the bill's third reading that the Lib Dem amendment was incompatible with the EU Technical Standards Directive (TSD) and would "not be capable of being enforced". He warned of "unforeseen and unintended consequences".

But he told peers: "It is our intention to try to bring forward, as the Bill moves to the Commons, a clause that would seek to ultimately achieve the same effect."

This would include a power for the secretary of state "to bring forward regulations to achieve the desired effect of site blocking", he explained.

Lord Young described his offer as a "sincere and constructive commitment, and I have tried to address the genuine concerns that have been expressed".

Lord Clement-Jones, while warning of "many a slip between cup and lip", agreed to wait for the government's amendment.

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