Government dumps plans to cut off illegal filesharers

Government dumps plans to cut off illegal filesharers
Government dumps plans to cut off illegal filesharers

The government has backtracked on its initial Digital Economy Bill proposals to cut off people illegally sharing copyrighted movies and music online.

The latest move is seen as a tactical response to a recent petition on the Number 10 website "to abandon Lord Mandelson's plans to ban individuals from the internet based on their use of 'peer to peer' file sharing."

The petition said: "The increasing role of the internet in access to society should not be underestimated. Cutting off households deprives families of education, government services and freedom of speech."


The government now claims: "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.

"We added account suspension to the list of possible technical measures which might be considered if our measures to tackle unlawful file-sharing through notifications and legal action are not as successful as we hope.

"This is but one of a number of possible options on which we would seek advice from Ofcom – and others – if we decided to consider a third obligation on technical measures. However what is clear is that we would need a rapid and robust route of appeal available to all consumers if we decided technical measures were needed."

Open Rights Group

However, the Open Rights Group that campaigns on digital rights, still says this is not a change in the government's position.

"When is 'disconnection' not disconnection? When it is 'account suspension', of course," notes the ORG.

"The government therefore felt justified in a response to a petition on Friday in claiming that were not intending to 'disconnect' families from the net after accusations of copyright infringement. If you think they mean that their internet cabling will still be plugged in at the wall, then that's true.

"If you think they mean that these families will be able to connect to the internet, well, no they won't. Their connection will be switched off.

"Please do not be confused by the government's semantics. BIS [the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills] and DCMS [the Department of Culture, Media and Sport] decided in the summer that they would not refer to 'disconnecting' users, because that sounds harsh and over the top. 'Temporary account suspension' sounds much more reasonable.

"'Temporary account suspensions' sound like the government would to suspend accounts for a few hours, or at most a day, to fit most people's idea of 'temporary' and 'suspension'. We doubt 'suspensions' would be so brief. We can assume what the government means to you and me is 'disconnection'."

Via The Guardian

Adam Hartley