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Britain’s Upper House Defeats Government for Second Time on Article 50 Bill

The government had rejected the amendment, saying it would weaken May’s hand by denying her the ability to walk away from the negotiating table

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House of Lords Chamber, Wikimedia
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London, March 8, 2017: Britian’s upper house, the unelected House of Lords on Tuesday voted to give parliament a veto over the final outcome of Theresa Mays Brexit negotiations, inflicting a second defeat on the governments article 50 bill.

Peers supported a Labour-led amendment by 366 to 268, despite the government’s argument that it would “damage the national interest” by making May’s Brexit negotiations more difficult, the Guardian reported.

Michael Heseltine, the Conservative former Deputy Prime Minister, was one of those leading the rebellion against the government’s position, along with Labour, Liberal Democrat and crossbench peers.

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“Everyone in this house knows that we now face the most momentous peacetime decision of our time,” he said.

“And this amendment secures in law the government’s commitment … to ensure that parliament is the ultimate custodian of our national sovereignty.

“It ensures that parliament has the critical role in determining the future that we will bequeath to generations of young people.”

The government had rejected the amendment, saying it would weaken May’s hand by denying her the ability to walk away from the negotiating table, the Guardian added.

George Bridges, a Tory peer and minister, said it would “make negotiations much harder from day one for the Prime Minister” by increasing the incentive for European Union countries to offer Britain a bad deal in the hope of getting parliament to scupper Brexit.

The Brexit bill will now return to the elected House of Commons with the amendment forcing May to have a vote on her Brexit deal and another guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens.

MPs are likely to overturn those amendments, although some Conservative MPs remain unhappy that it is not clear whether parliament will get a vote if May ends up trying to take Britain out of the EU without a deal having been struck.

This will send the Brexit bill back to the House of Lords, which may end up backing down and acknowledging the supremacy of the Commons.

May has already verbally promised that parliament will get a vote on her Brexit deal but this will be on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis, as the choices would be accepting the terms or crashing out of the EU to rely on World Trade Organisation rules.

But the House of Lords decided that the promise of a parliamentary vote on the outcome of the Brexit talks with the EU must be set down in legislation. Earlier, the peers voted against putting the outcome to a second referendum. (IANS)

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The Web Developer Requests Authorities Not To Leave Half Of The World In Dark

Despite the challenges, Berners-Lee said he was optimistic about the future of the internet.

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World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee speaks during an interview at the Mozilla Festival 2018 in London. VOA

British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, appealed on Monday for companies and governments not to leave behind half of the world population yet to have internet access, which includes billions of women and girls.

Berners-Lee told the opening of the Europe’s largest technology conference that everyone had assumed his breakthrough in 1989, that connected humanity to technology, would lead to good things – and it had for a while.

But he said the internet was “coming of age” and going awry, with fake news and issues with privacy, hate speech and political polarization, as well as a growing digital divide between those in richer and poorer countries.

Internet
Internet companies support an economy-wide, national approach to regulation that protects the privacy of all Americans. VOA

He called on companies and governments to join a “contract for the web” by next May in order to rebuild trust in the internet and find new ways to monetize, regulate and ensure fair and affordable access to the online world.

“Everything we do … to make the web more powerful, it means we increase the digital divide,” Berners-Lee, 63, told the opening of the ninth edition of the Web Summit, dubbed “the Davos for geeks,” that attracts up to 70,000 people. “We’ve an obligation to look after both parts of the world.”

Berners-Lee highlighted studies showing that half of the world population will be online by next year – but the rate of take-up was slowing considerably, potentially leaving billions cut off from government services, education and public debate.

His concerns were echoed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who stressed the need for a “digital future that is safe and beneficial to all” to meet the United Nation’s global goals of ending inequality and extreme poverty by 2030.

Data Privacy, internet
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

In 2016 the United Nations passed a resolution to make disruption of internet access a violation of human rights.

Google’s head of philanthropy, Jacqueline Fuller, said it was huge milestone for the web to reach 30 next year, adding her company was one of 50 organizations to have already signed up to the pact developed by Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation.

Other supporters include Facebook, British billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and the French government.

Data Privacy, internet
FILE – Zuckerberg Pushes Internet Connectivity In Address to World Leaders at APEC. VOA

“This is also a great opportunity for us,” Fuller told the Web Summit. “Women and girls are much less likely to have access (to the internet).”

Also Read: Google’s Waymo To Fully Test Driver-Less Cars

Despite the challenges, Berners-Lee said he was optimistic about the future of the internet.

“The ad-based funding model doesn’t have to work in the same way. It doesn’t have to create clickbait,” he said. (VOA)