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UK Government Returns to Draconian Anti-File Sharing Measures

Gordon Kelly


UK Government Returns to Draconian Anti-File Sharing Measures

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.


via The Guardian

TalkTalk Response


August 25, 2009, 7:11 pm

Why am I not surprised by this. Government ignores own report to do as they please despite what the experts say, and what the majority of people want! Question is, when this government is out on it's backside (no real choice there, for other reasons than just this), will the next government keep such draconian views and legislation or will they be more progressive?

Minister's in charge they say! Let's not forget the ones who were only too happy to benefit from a corrupt system and line their own pockets, will be telling us what is fair?


August 25, 2009, 7:12 pm

Pardon me that should read "ministers" not "minister's". Got all hot and bothered and pressed the wrong key.

prag fest

August 25, 2009, 8:06 pm

Digital Britain report comes up with clueless, outdated recommendations, which the government ignores anyway. Brilliant.


August 25, 2009, 8:13 pm

The problem is politics is corrupt, it's all about making deals with those with money. Why do you think the government spent billions of OUR money bailing out the banks. Labour probably know there out come next election so expect more deals like this to come.

Looks like they haven't learnt a single thing with the fiasco of expenses, and the damage of the under counter deals like this have on our country.


August 25, 2009, 8:22 pm

what is 'meddlesome' doing sticking his nose in?. remember that this guy is un-elected and has already had '2 strikes' against his name because of dodgy dealings, and that's without his sex life coming into it. as usual this government does what it wants, was going to say not what it was elected for but it's not elected. all that will happen is some dumb kid will be kicked from having internet access and the real pirates will continue by masking thier activities. the content providers are control freaks who see the internet as losing control of distribution and along with it the amount of money they make. luddites the lo of them!.


August 25, 2009, 9:06 pm

They propose new rules and restrictions on the same day it become apparent they've been using a botched Age-Ratings law for years?!

Martin Wainika

August 25, 2009, 10:20 pm

@alchobot. What has Peter Mandelson's sexual orientation got to do with this topic. Good to see homophobia is still alive and well


August 25, 2009, 10:21 pm

Trying to ignore for one second my desire to rant about on this topic - so well voiced by others...

I wonder just how do our masters & betters intend to organise the practicalities of this.

Some trivial examples perhaps:

Like when people who are 'banned' move home.How do they intend to follow the offender?

Like the widespread use of encrypted SSL / VPN links to 'media sources' how do they monitor this. Or do they monitor everyone in the hope of catching someone say like speed cameras?

Who would do the (leagal?) snooping, to 'out' the offenders?

Do I see another databases looming.....

Will all the ISP's have access to this privileged information?

Will they ( ISP's) be made (forced)judge and jury when an alleged offender applies for a new internet connection?

Will the police want the DNA of the 'criminals as with other arrests?

And finally.... Yes I know your tired of my ramblings ;)

Where is the public debate about all this "Lord" Mandlelson? I think you realise you WILL loose the election so push on regardless to leave a mess for the next government to be responsible for!! But then, I forget, you are unelected anyway.....

Oh dear, I've started to rant ;) sorry!


August 25, 2009, 10:59 pm

Yeah, let's be clear about this, Peter Mandelson's sexuality is actually one of the few things we DON'T resent about him. It's not that he's gay, it's that he's an evil, opportunistic sociopath whose trying to make my life a misery.


August 25, 2009, 11:00 pm

As already pointed out, once again the government wastes our money having research underaken and a report produced, only to then totally ignore the results. Why should we be surprised? They've done exactly the same thing with almost every other area of policy. And do Mandy's deviousness and corruption know no bounds? I wonder, how many quid for this pro quo?

Equally frustrating is that when Labour finally get booted out, we'll be no better off. Think the Conservatives will take a more enlightened view on these matters? You'd have more luck talking Sony and EMI around first. Let's not forget that Cameron doesn't much like Ofcom either.

So we get shafted by this government and it looks like we'll get shafted by the next. Which is why, rather than just grumbling about it here, I will be signing petitions, writing letters to my MP and others, until they get the message. I hope others will do the same.


August 26, 2009, 5:02 am

@martin, I'm not homophobic - couldn't care less. there are things behind which can't be put into print, I don't have enough money to pay for barristers.


August 26, 2009, 1:33 pm

@Chocoa: Who would do the (leagal?) snooping, to 'out' the offenders?

Yeah too right!!, in fact why don't we rename our country to China and be done with it. Oh, hang on a minute isn't China the capital of illegal downloads. :)


August 26, 2009, 1:59 pm

I wonder how much money Mandleson receives from the MPAA/BPI/RIAA lobby groups. Maybe an enterprising reporter or even Guido can find out for us.

Absolutely baffling decision otherwise, I really hope the ISPs stand up to this bullshit and the Lords do their job and strike down the bill until the government gets the message like 48 days.

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