Free software campaigner Richard Stallman has taken a pop at the digital economy bill (DEB), slating the UK government for "slavishly obeying the record companies."
"When I read about Gordon Brown's plan to give the UK more broadband, I couldn't restrain my laughter," writes Stallman in a Guardian newspaper blog, referring to plans for a broadband tax to fund investment, now almost certainly shelved. "Isn't this the same clown now busy circumventing democracy to take away broadband from Britons who already have it?," he continues.
Stallman's blog reheats a number of long-argued controversies ranging from the curbing of ‘digital rights', the extension of copyright, and the way legislation such as the DEB will in his view work to restrict access to content.
On a related tack, his Free Software Foundation has named 4 May as a special ‘day against digital rights management (DRM), a highly contentious suite of technologies used to control the way content can be accessed and copied.
There is nothing unexpected in Stallman's comments - his Free Software Foundation would be expected to oppose the bill on a variety of grounds. What his latest intervention could do is give the issue some global attention.
Stallman is a noted campaigner on a range of issues other than free software and DRM, although many continue to see him through the lens of these topics. His personal web page urges users to avoid Facebook, to oppose information collection by the state, support freedom of information, and take an interest in environmental issues.