"Wash-up" might sound homely, conjuring visions of a family scrubbing up after a cheerful dinner as the evening descends. But it's also the name of a UK legislative process in which bills can become law through a quick process that bypasses normal debate. Wash-up happens at the end of a parliamentary term, just before new elections, and it is designed to finish non-controversial outstanding business.
But is it appropriate to use wash-up to make major changes to UK Internet access, giving copyright holders tremendous new power to go after P2P pirates and even block entire websites?
The UK's current Labour government thinks so. It is intent on jamming the "Digital Economy" bill through Parliament in the next couple of days by means of the wash-up process after calling a general election for May 6. Chris Marsden, a senior lecturer in the University of Essex's law school, calls the process "an absolute insult to Parliament, to Internet users, and to democracy." He goes on to "add for overseas readers that this Bill is not just anti-digital economy, but very obviously anti-net neutrality as well as against basic rights."