Conservative standard response
This letter has been used by Conservative MPs as a standard response to emails from ORG supporters, often by post. It is pretty standard practice for MPs to use standard responses, and it is a sign that the MP may not have thought in much depth about the issue, and therefore is a good indication that it is worth following up with a more detailed and considered personal letter.
MP's Letter text
Thank you for emailing me about web blocking.
Digital copyright infringement is a big problem in the UK and poses a very real threat to Britain’s hugely successful creative industries. Aside from ethical concerns, it undermines creative expression and has the potential to seriously affect British jobs and the country’s economic recovery.
I understand illegal file-sharing costs the industry £400m a year. To help combat this problem, the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has asked Ofcom to review whether website blocking measures are workable. This review follows on from the public responses to the Deputy Prime Minister’s ‘Your Freedom’ consultation which was designed to give people a chance to tell Government which laws and regulations they think should be amended or revoked.
I know Mr Hunt and his departmental colleagues are aware of the Special Rapporteur's report. Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, has confirmed that the Government agrees with the individual right to free and uncensored access to the internet and that states should only interfere in exceptional circumstances. The Government also agrees that the degree of interference should be proportionate to the risks involved. Mr Vaizey has stated that such measures should not be adopted lightly and that the Government will only do so if convinced that it is appropriate, proportionate, in accordance with international legal obligations and effective on the basis of evidence in the future.
The Government has responded to the Human Rights Council, welcoming the Special Rapporteur's report and supporting the general thrust of his conclusions and recommendations. The Government will continue to support the work of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Government is now considering the Ofcom review before deciding on the best way forward.
How to respond to this letter
Response points to this letter could include something like this:
- Evidence of scale of harm is important, but non-existent. Industry figures of £400m losses, which are being accepted as fact, are based on unpublished methodologies. Academic studies generally find costs to industry as small or negligible. The government's recent Hargreaves Review into Intellectual Property challenged such figures as "lobbynomics". This means we should seriously question the priority being given to these initiatives, especially in contrast to efforts to develop legal online markets.
- It's heartening to see the government listening to the rapporteur, but he made a concrete recommendation to repeal the disconnection clauses of the DEA. It would be very interesting to know what you think about this.
- The EDM itself is simply a recommendation for Parliament to examine current proposals for more website blocking, and disconnection legislation in the DEA, on the basis of the Special Rapporteur's report. It is therefore a very moderate motion, we would be easy to support, and your signature would be very welcome.
- As someone with XXX background, i would be very happy to supply you with more information on this or other digital rights issues, if you would find that helpful.
- Open Rights Group has a briefing, which I attach.