Lord Mandelson unveils internet pirates suspension plan

Lord Mandelson unveils internet pirates suspension plan: “Persistent internet pirates will face an escalating series of sanctions which could end with their connection cut off, under plans unveiled by Lord Mandelson today.

The Business Secretary said he would introduce legislation next month to ensure that the worst illegal downloaders of music, film and television would face punishment, in the face of opposition from internet service providers (ISPs).

He told an audience of senior executives from Britain’s creative industries that internet piracy was “not a victimless act” but “a genuine threat to our creative industries” which needed to be urgently addressed.

He outlined plans to bring in the sanctions in two waves after the passing of new legislation, expected to be introduced in Parliament next month.

In the first phase, illegal downloaders would be sent warning letters and have their details passed on to media companies, which would have the option of launching their own legal actions. The second phase would be triggered a year after the legislation came into force. A range of technical measures would become available including the ability to artificially slow down the connection speed of those suspected. The final sanction would be a temporary suspension of the internet. Details on how long suspensions would last have not yet been announced.

Lord Mandelson said that the measures would target persistent rule breakers with a “fair, thorough process” of penalties including warnings to those suspected and internet account suspension as a last resort punishment”.

He said that he believed only a small number of people would have their connection stopped.

Opponents of the plans have said that families could lose access to the internet because of the actions of one member.

The plan faces stiff opposition from two internet providers, BT and Carphone Warehouse. They have complained about the costs of implementing the scheme and said that it would be almost impossible to enforce. Technology made it possible for serial pirates to disguise their online identities. But other internet providers such as Virgin Media are more sympathetic to disconnection.

The Digital Economy Bill will be introduced as part of November’s Queen’s Speech and detail further how the disconnection scheme would work.

In an attempt to head off the critics, Lord Mandelson published a series of letters from supporters, such as Sir Elton John, Noel Gallagher and James Blunt, although none of the three stars explicitly supported the disconnection proposal.

The former Oasis member, Gallagher, wrote: “I would support making ISPs play a bigger role in controlling illegal file-sharing, as long as any actions taken are considered, proportionate and the music community has a say in how they are put in place.”

(Via Law News from Times Online.)

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