I have been campaigning for Web Neutrality and the web as a democratic process (web Democracy). As a result I got a comment on my blog from my MP – David Howarth (LibDem) – which felt I had treated him somewhat unfairly. He has a valid point and I will try to find common ground (perhaps by clarifying timescales and recording of correspondence). I’m also asking readers of this blog to help, either by commenting on the protocol of communicating with Mps or by pointing to useful information.
I wrote to my MEP (Andrew Duff, also LibDem) about NetNeutrality in Europe. I didn’t get any acknowledgement or reply – which upset me. So I used the mySociety organ – WriteToThem – to send a letter in public (http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=1955) This brought a useful reply (which I published http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=1984). In that Andrew Duff wrote:
I am aware that the UK along with France is
pushing strongly to change the wording agreed by the Parliament. This
action will delay the progress of the report and put at risk the many
important aspects in this package which will increase competition and boost
jobs. I therefore urge you to raise your concerns with the UK Government
and ask them to support the article which ensures that an internet cut-off
can only be imposed after approval from a competent legal authority.
I did so by using WriteToThem to write to David Howarth essentially asking him to take the issue to the government.
I got an acknowledgement that promised that David Howarth , but heard nothing more until 2 days ago when I got a followup from WriteToThem (WTT) indicating that it was 2 weeks since I had written and asking what feedback I had had. I assumed that it was reasonable to get a substantive reply within two weeks and so posted a somewhat critical comment (http://wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/blogs/murrayrust/?p=2051). David Howarth commented:
Dear Dr Murray-Rust,
I think you are being slightly unfair. This is not an issue I have any expertise in. My gut instinct would be to agree with you, but there is more to policy than gut instinct. Would you prefer a thought-through reply or a statement of unthinking prejudice?
I appreciate this reply and admit that I have been slightly unfair. I had based my action on similarity with the Freedom of Information Act which requires public institutions to provide substantiative replies within 20 working days (and for which support is provided by mySociety’s sister site WhatDoTheyKnow?). I had assumed that WTT’s followup suggested that a substantive reply could be expected in 14 elapsed days (this is my error and not WTT’s).
So I accept that David Howarth is working on the matter and I also know from colleagues that he has addressed other problems promptly. I also completely agree that if time gives a better response then I am prepared to wait. I am unaware of the UK’s proposed policy (as opposed to the EU’s) and so I will try to help David Howarth by asking the readership:
PLEASE CAN YOU PROVIDE LINKS EXPLAINING THE CONCERNS TO WHICH ANDREW DUFF IS REFERRING?
I will forward this message to David Howarth through WTT.