updated 08:25 pm EDT, Tue March 16, 2010
UK bill to force ISPs to monitor, punish pirates
A bill has been passed by the British House of Lords that, if it becomes law, would require Internet Service Providers to report suspected file sharers and copyright violators to copyright holders as well as the UK's Office of Communications (OFCOM). The Digital Economy Bill would be at odds with the way the European Commission handles enforce copyright infringements. OFCOM would need to decide on what ISPs are obligated to do with customers they suspect of infringing copyrights.
Details as to how ISPs would monitor subscribers, when to report on their doings and how long to keep information, as well as what else to do with the data will also the OFCOM's responsibility. ISPs would not be held responsible for the actions of their customers, but only if they would implement technical measures to punish the offending subscribers. Among the steps, customers could have their speed or other service throttled, see certain sites or protocols blocked, or in more extreme cases a full suspension.
Critics have noted that the text of the bill is ambiguous enough as to indicate that subscribers may not have to be proven guilty of their charges. They also note that the law could hold an account or entire household responsible as it would make no distinction between individuals.
The bill will now go to the House of Commons, where it is likely to be hotly contested. Liberal leaders have spoken out against it, saying that punishing users without proving their guilt would be contrary to the EU's Technical Standards Directive. [via BetaNews]