Bill Could Result in UK Ban on WikiLeaks

WL_Hour_Glass_small04082010.jpgA controversial UK bill that could be used against sensitive-document publisher WikiLeaks is nearing passage into law, reports the Guardian.

The wide-reaching bill, which covers areas as diverse as photographers’ rights to control the use of their images and Web sites’ accountability for publishing copyrighted material, includes a broad clause that could potentially be used to ban WikiLeaks in the UK. Says the Guardian:

Earlier the government removed its proposed clause 18, which could have given it sweeping powers to block sites, but replaced it with an amendment to clause 8 of the bill. The new clause allows the secretary of state for business to order the blocking of “a location on the internet which the court is satisfied has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright”.

The Labour MP John Hemming protested that this could mean the blocking of the whistleblower site Wikileaks, which carries only copyrighted work. Stephen Timms for the government said that it would not want to see the clause used to restrict freedom of speech — but gave no assurance that sites like Wikileaks would not be blocked.

WikiLeaks made quite a splash this week for publishing a video from 2007 in which U.S. military personnel kill 12 people — including two Reuters journalists — in Iraq.

British-legislation and digital-rights nerds can get more on the digital economy bill here.