Remember Digital Britain, that "verbose, tedious waffle" (to quote the succinct words of our own Hugo) which wants 2Mbit broadband nationwide by 2012? It did at least say relatively sensible things about illegal filesharing - but now it appears the government is going to ignore that bit...
To refresh: Digital Britain wants illegal file sharers to receive "notification of unlawful activity and, for repeat-infringers, a court-based process of identity release and civil action." If the file sharers continue to ignore this then industry regulator Ofcom can throttle down their bandwidth and ultimately instigate legal action. In the meantime the government was to make changes to the legislative framework around copyright licensing to encourage cheap digital distribution of content. Seems reasonable enough.
By contrast, The Guardian is reporting today that we can say goodbye to a lot of that because the government plans to propose legislation that recommends cutting off Internet connections for persistent file sharers. Some "basic access to online public services" may remain, but it also wants Ofcom removed from the process of targeting illegal downloaders in order to give it directly to ministers (!) to "speed up the process". Madness.
"The previous proposals, whilst robust, would take an unacceptable amount of time to complete in a situation that calls for urgent action," says a draft of the government's new plan according to the broadsheet.
Furthermore the paper goes on to say speculation is building that the regressive measures were agreed upon by Lord Mandlelson when he attended a private dinner with major record producer David Geffen and members of the Rothschild banking dynasty at the family's holiday villa on Corfu. Nothing like basing your proposals on the opinions of the masses! Still, let's stay out of the politics.
More practically, the news has seen bitter reaction from ISPs. Be Unlimited is a particularly vocal objector and TalkTalk also added its voice today, declaring its "dismay" that "this intrusive approach will prevent cooperative new business models from evolving as ISPs and content providers will be effectively set against each other, and there will be less incentive for rights holders to adapt. This will mean that the underlying problem will perpetuate for much longer and the development of internet services in the UK will be detrimentally affected."
I'd have to agree and this is without touching upon the problems of filesharers masking their identity, multi-user broadband connections and WiFi hijacking. The EU has also declared broadband disconnections illegal this year while France's attempts to introduce a 'Three Strikes' disconnection policy was finally banned in June.
That said BSkyB, BT Retail, Carphone Warehouse, Orange, Tiscali and Virgin Media have all called for a P2P crackdown in the past, so we'll have to see where we go from here...
A trip to Sanity Land would be nice.