updated 03:20 pm EDT, Tue August 25, 2009
UK file-sharers face cuts
The UK government has introduced new measures in its Digital Britain report that could see individuals who illegally share copyrighted files have their Internet service cut off, says a Tuesday report. These proposed changed would give regulator Ofcom greater power in fighting web pirates, including said account suspensions. Previously, Ofcon was given until 2012 to develop technical measures to catch pirates, but this timeframe was deemed too generous, and "impacting unfairly upon rights holders," Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms said.
The changes will require Internet service providers (ISPs) to cut the service of repeat offenders and would require the costs of tracking these pirates down is shared equally between ISPs and rights holders. In France, a three-strike rule was approved but since struck down, as it was deemed unconstitutional due to a lack of oversight. An amended bill has since been tentatively greenlit.
ISPs are not pleased with the proposal. The Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) said it was "disappointed by the proposal to force ISPs to suspend users' accounts." The ISPA views the measure of cutting off users as too extreme, or "disproportionate," adding this feeling is mirrored by a recent ruling by the European Parliament. The ISPA also argues the proposed changes have been made without consultation with the Internet industry.
The changes also bring up other problems, such as children being unaware of the illegal nature of file sharing and putting their parents' Internet connections in jeopardy without the parents' knowledge. Some also argue cutting a user's access to the Internet violates their right to freedom of speech.
Estimates put the number of illegal file sharers at 7 million, and about half of all content being shared being illegal. The country's government has a goal of reducing this level of bootlegging by about 70 percent over the next few years.