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The Government Plans to Cut Your Internet Off

Posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 in civil liberties, government, News

The battle lines are being drawn. In June the government’s ‘Digital Britain’ report ruled out cutting people off from the internet for filesharing, but Peter Mandelson has decided to overrule its findings:

Under the tougher proposals, internet service providers would be obliged to block access to download sites, throttle broadband connections or even temporarily cut off access for repeat offenders.

Communications regulator Ofcom would report regularly to the business secretary, Lord Mandelson, providing evidence of whether such action is required against illegal filesharers.

The consultation document from Mandelson’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills proposes that the secretary of state could then direct Ofcom to implement a raft of new technical measures.

The Pirate Party UK’s responded by saying:

This is a massive announcement that threatens far more people than before, yet it has been hidden away in an update to a consultation document. We are only to be given 5 weeks to respond to this major announcement and defend our right to justice, a fair trial, and to defend the principle that collective punishments are wrong, despite the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills having a commitment to 12 week minimum consultation periods.

The other new announcement is that ISPs will be expected to share the cost of enforcement 50:50 with ‘rights holders’, a move which may well price independent artists and film-makers out of the process, and places an unjustifiable burden on ISPs who are a third party in disputes between file sharers and rights holders.

Yet again the Government have done exactly what the big media cartel have told them.

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It does seem awfully convenient that the government is more interested in listening to David Geffen than coming up with a workable solution to the problem of filesharing. The government should be forced to answer the question of whose rights they’re most interested in protecting: the rights of powerful rights holders? The rights of the artists themselves? The rights of users? Again however we are in the situation where the government has bought into an international, corporate agenda at the expense of those whose interests it’s really supposed to be protecting.

Former minister Tom Watson offers a thoughtful response to the controversy:

A much more fruitful path – economically, politically and socially – would be to ask why current economic and regulatory conditions are not bringing about enough legal alternatives to draw UK consumers away from illicit p2p. Working on the fairly safe assumptions that (a) people like downloading music from the internet, and (b) most people, given a choice, would prefer not to break the law, we should aim to map a way forward for businesses old and new to take advantage of the digital market in a way that allows them sufficient profits to invest in the creative talent of the future.

I couldn’t agree more – it seems like such common sense. Why criminalise 6-7 million people when they’re responding to technological change, and to a widely-shared perception that the artists whose product is being shared aren’t losing out through filesharing? If the potential losers in the p2p future are corporate, what’s government doing siding arbitrarily (and disproportionately) with them, and entirely against users (which is quite possibly illegal)?

If you’re against Mandelson’s kowtowing to Big Media join the Pirate Party UK here. You’ve seen how successful they were in Sweden. Join them here and send a message to New Labour.

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  1. [...] point very nicely put. Mandelson’s plans represent the same problem posed by the Independent Safeguarding Authority – they are the [...]

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