Internet ban proposed for illegal downloaders

13 Feb 2008

If you thought U2 manager Paul McGuinness’ proposal for a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ internet ban on illegal downloaders was far-fetched, think again – the UK government has just proposed these exact measures.

The proposals by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport have been laid down in a government green paper due to be published next week.

Internet service providers (ISPs) would be required to take legal action against subscribers who were caught illegally downloading copyright material, such as pirated movies or music.

While there are no details on how this proposed law would fit in with data privacy and how it would be implemented, the ISP would be required to send an email warning to the suspected illegal downloader on the first offence.

This would be followed up with a suspension of their account with the ISP on the second offence, with a final and complete ban from the ISP and a termination of their account if caught a third time.

The Times UK reports that in a draft copy it obtained of the green paper, the UK government said it will “move to legislate to require internet service providers to take action on illegal file-sharing.”

These proposed penalties, which McGuinness echoed while at the recent Cannes film festival, will have a commercial benefit to ISPs whose bandwidth he claims is increasingly hogged by illegal downloaders.

As the law stands in Ireland, ISPs have previously been asked to hand over the names and addresses of 23 people who were suspected by IRMA (Irish Recorded Music Association) of having illegally shared music online.

The main difference here is that these people were suspected of being nodes, in other words having uploaded and shared copyright material online with others, as opposed to having downloaded copyrighted material.

By Marie Boran