UK Internet users could face ISP ban for illegal downloading

February 12, 2008

UK Internet users could face ISP ban for illegal downloadingIt looks as though the music and film industries are about to get help from the British government in their drive to combat illegal file sharers. If measures currently being proposed make it to law, ISPs will be forced to police their users, and ban persistent downloaders from accessing the Internet.

Echoing what has already happened in France on a smaller scale, the British government is considering making it a requirement for Internet Service Providers to monitor all traffic going through their systems, and take action against people found to have downloaded anything illegally.

The Times newspaper has obtained a green paper which sets out the intentions of the government to take a more active role in preventing illegal downloads, and legislate against the perpetrators.

Firms who offer broadband services to British consumers would all be liable under the new laws, and be prosecuted if they failed to adhere to the new guidelines.

A draft copy of this green paper, obtained by The Times, states:

“We will move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file-sharing.”

These new proposals seems to be going totally over the heads of the ISPs, who have for the last few months been trying to arrange a voluntary scheme with the entertainment industry. No agreement has yet been reached on that score, after a failure to concur on the best way to arbitrate on cases where people claim innocence, such as that pirates piggybacked on to their connection.

This seems a bit loopy, as the British government can’t truly expect ISPs to monitor every single packet of information which passes through their hands. Even if they did agree, and manage to get a system in place capable of it, there are estimated to be six million people who download copyrighted material on a regular basis in the UK, which is a lot of people to target overnight.

Also, why should ISPs be expected to be liable for file sharing when none of the content being downloaded, either legally or otherwise is stored on their servers?

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