UK file-sharers to be 'cut off'

The UK government has published new measures that could see people who illegally download films and music cut off from the net.

The amendment to the Digital Britain report would see regulator Ofcom given greater powers to tackle pirates.

The technical measures are likely to include suspending the net accounts of "hardcore copyright pirates".

It is believed that Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has intervened personally to beef up the policy.

The Digital Britain report, published in June, gave Ofcom until 2012 to consider whether technical measures to catch pirates were necessary.

However, according to a statement from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills released on Tuesday, that timeframe is now considered "too long to wait".

Stephen Timms, minister for Digital Britain, explained the change of heart.

"We've been listening carefully to responses to the consultation this far, and it's become clear there are widespread concerns that the plans as they stand could delay action, impacting unfairly upon rights holders," he said.


ISPs have repeatedly argued that it is not their job to police the web.

The Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) said it was "disappointed by the proposal to force ISPs to suspend users' accounts.

"ISPA and consumer groups consider disconnection of users to be a disproportionate response, a view that was recently supported by the European Parliament," it said in a statement.

It said that the changes had been proposed "without consultation with the internet industry".

Countries around the world are grappling with how to control internet piracy. In the US, student Joel Tenebaum was last month ordered to pay $675,000 (£412,000) to various record labels after admitting downloading 800 songs.

In May the French parliament passed legislation which would see a new state agency sending warning letters to file sharers. If they are caught three times, they will be cut off.

It is estimated that around seven million people in the UK are involved in illegal downloads with half of all the traffic on the net in the UK being content that is shared illegally.

The UK government has set a target of reducing the problem by at least 70% in the next few years.

No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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