ISPs should 'refuse to be internet police'

TalkTalk's owner says that the BPI's proposals are 'unworkable'

The head of the Carphone Warehouse says it isn’t the job of ISPs to police the net. Chief Executive Charles Dunstone, said that he wouldn’t disconnect users who has illegally downloaded copyrighted music if they didn’t contravene their ISP fair use policy.

"Talk Talk rejects music industry threats and refuses to become internet police" said Dunstone, whose company also controls the UK arm of AOL.

Dunstone made the comments in response to recent Government efforts to create a dialogue between the British Phonographic Industry, represented by the BPI and ISPs. A ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy is supported by the BPI.

'Three strikes' scheme rejected

In a statement, Carphone said it was “refusing to buckle under pressure” from the BPI. It sais it was to “reject” the three-strikes scheme. ”Our position is very clear, we are the conduit that gives users access to the Internet, we do not control the Internet nor do we control what our users do on the Internet,” said Dunstone in the statement.

“I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would voluntarily disconnect a customer's account on the basis of a third party alleging a wrong doing. We believe that a fundamental part of our role as an ISP is to protect the rights of our users to use the Internet as they choose. We will fight any challenge to the sanctity of this relationship with every legal option available to us.”

But the BPI has hit back. In a statement attributed to Geoff Taylor, the BPI Chief Executive, he said that Dunstone had missed the point. “In claiming that the music industry is asking it to become the “internet police”, “impinge customers rights” or “restrict freedom to use of the internet”, Talk Talk is either seeking to misrepresent our position, or just doesn’t get it.

“We are not asking ISP’s to act as the police. We are asking them to act on information we provide to them.”

'Unreasonable and unworkable'

Carphone also said the BPI proposals are “unreasonable and unworkable” while Dunstone added that the music industry had “consistently failed to adapt to changes in technology and now seeks to foist their problems on someone else,” before attacking the business model of record companies.

Clearly Dunstone has a beef with the BPI which maintains it merely wants to ensure that “creators are fairly rewarded in the digital age,” but that “can’t succeed if an ISP refuses to do anything to address the problem of illegal downloading on its network.”

The BPI believes that such a move will pay other dividends. “This will grow our digital economy, which is in the interest of all of us. Talk Talk should play its part in building this future,” adds Taylor.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.