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February 24, 2010

Government appears to u-turn on cutting off file-sharers

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by Darren Allan

The government has spoken out about its plans to forcibly disconnect illegal file-sharers.

The move comes in response to an online petition which asked the government to scrap Lord Mandelson’s scheme, whereby individuals could be banned from the net due to using peer-to-peer file-sharing applications.

The petition cited privacy issues, and the innocent-until-proven-guilty attitude the proposed legislation would take. As well as pointing out that peer-to-peer isn’t just used by pirates, but many legitimate games and applications such as the BBC’s iPlayer.

In its response, the government said, regarding privacy concerns: “We are not requiring ISPs to monitor for unlawful file-sharing. Nor are we proposing that ISPs look at what users download in order to combat piracy.”

The government stressed the measures are about tackling uploaders of copyrighted material, and identifying “the IP address of an uploader using publicly available information.”

But most importantly, the reply stated: “We will not terminate the accounts of infringers – it is very hard to see how this could be deemed proportionate except in the most extreme – and therefore probably criminal – cases.”

However, measures such as account suspension might be considered, the reply then adds. Which some folks, such as the Open Rights Group, have argued leaves room for interpretation – the suspension could last as long as they wanted, and effectively be a ban.

In other words, it’s all semantics, and there’s been no real change in policy here. Which is a distinct possibility – we await confirmation from the powers-that-be of exactly what they’re defining “suspension” as.

Story link: Government appears to u-turn on cutting off file-sharers


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1 Comment »
  1. Typical lack of understanding of peer to peer by the government. Only looking for uploaders of content via IP. Peer to peer means all users will upload content to other users and download from users aswell it’s how peer to peer works. Also IP spoofing means they’ll have problems doing this the usual method is employ a company to sit on the peer to peer network recording IPs of people in the group of users, there is absolutely no way they can prove those IP addresses are real or not routed through innocent peoples machines. They need to realise those out their commiting the crimes are far more advanced in technology than they are so everything they do to stop them will only last about 5 minutes.

    Comment by Paul — February 25, 2010 @ 11:50 am

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