UK ISPs don't want to become the Internet Police

UK ISPs don't want to become the Internet Police

Don't worry ma'am, everything is going to be fine. I'm from the Internet Police Force.

The Internet Service Providers' Association, the umbrella group which represents ISPs in the UK, has rejected calls for them to monitor Internet usage and cut off users who repeatedly share copyrighted material.

Yesterday, the UK government heard pleas from an alliance of UK creative industry bodies to force ISPs to disconnect persistent illegal file sharers if they ignored repeated warnings.

In a statement, the group said that it believes disconnecting users is "a disproportionate response," which is a view supported by the European Parliament.

The ISPA continues to dispute calls for disconnection of persistent copyright violators from some elements of the creative industries because it believes current technology will not stand up in court. "ISPA members have consistently explained that significant technological advances would be required if these members are to reach a standard where they would be admissible as evidence in court," read the statement.

The UK Film Council believes that something needs to be done and that the responsibility should fall on ISPs. "You can send out all the cease and desist emails in the world, but ultimately if there isn't any sanction with some sort of threat of disrupted broadband, then the threats are empty and will be ignored," said John Woodward, Chief Executive of UKFC.

Parliament appears to be siding with the ISPs at the moment though, as Barbara Follett MP, Minister for the Creative Industries, said that the Government favoured a system of warning letters to offenders with the threat of legal action instead of disconnection in a press conference yesterday.

"We propose a requirement for ISPs to notify their customers that are engaging in unlawful file-sharing and notify them in such a way that any further action would have consequences. The consequences we propose are legal action; I know some people feel that is not sufficient," explained Follet, before saying that the details of the Government's plans would be included in next month's Digital Britain report.

The creative industries alliance feels that legal action isn't enough and that the onus will fall on the creative industry and not on ISPs. ISPA Secretary General Nicholas Lansman said, "ISPA recognises that there is a problem with unlawful P2P file sharing, but it is important to recognise that a major part of the solution lies in licensing reform and the availability of legal content online. ISPA remains committed to working with the Government and the creative industries to find a solution which balances the needs of all parties and is fair for consumers."

Woodward conceded this point and recognised that the creative industries had to introduce 'radical new business models' if it is to succeed in the digital age. "There needs to be a better relationship between content providers, ISPs and consumers," he said.

In related news, the French National Assembly has said "Oui!" to the controversial 'three strikes' bill, which is supported by President Nicolas Sarkozy, after it rejected it last month. The legislation, known as the Creation and Internet bill, will force ISPs to first warn offenders by email, then by a letter and then finally disconnect online media pirates for a year if caught a third time.

The bill slipped through with relative ease after a 296 to 233 vote in the lower house. The Senate has also given the final approval with a vote of 189 to 14 that excluded opposition Socialist and Communist senators.

Not surprisingly, the bill has been backed by the creative industries, while Governments across the world – including in the UK – are watching how the scheme works as a potential deterrent. John Kennedy, Chairman of global music industry body IFPI, said that the bill is "an effective and proportionate way of tackling online copyright infringement and migrating users to the wide variety of legal music services in France."

What isn't clear at the moment is exactly how illegal file sharers will be detected given the ISPA's statements above. Got a reaction to the news? Tell us in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
liratheal 13th May 2009, 14:02 Quote

I am a little curious as to the picture used, though.. Shouldn't it be classed as NSFW,since you can, technically, see manbits?
Paradigm Shifter 13th May 2009, 14:23 Quote
The pic looks like an even weirder version of Legion from Red Dwarf VI...


Honestly, I'm surprised that that 'three strikes' bill got through in France. Wonder how much money changed hands in order for that to get through? Or am I being too cynical?
Timmy_the_tortoise 13th May 2009, 15:09 Quote
Perhaps the UK Government doesn't want it to go through because they all dabble in the Black Market Downloads....

They wouldn't dream of wasting precious MPs Expenses on a new CD.
DXR_13KE 13th May 2009, 15:38 Quote
that picture = tron guy

I feel that there will be cries and pain in France during the next few months...
Aleph Haz 13th May 2009, 15:56 Quote
SMIFFYDUDE 13th May 2009, 16:50 Quote
I'm glad he doesn't live next door to me. That male camel toe is now burnt onto my retinas, ewwww.
thehippoz 13th May 2009, 17:10 Quote
XD I can't even read that.. the fat tron guy is too distracting
Faulk_Wulf 13th May 2009, 19:10 Quote
TL;DR - :(


I don't get the industry. I would think it would be as simple as making a "legal" BitTorrent.

It'd follow the likes of Steam/iTunes. They have a website, and a store built into the app. You pay your fee. (And if it doesn't move, you can easily put it on "Sale" or what-not.) You get the *.torrent file and you download it.

The file has minimal DRM. (You can copy it, do whatever for PERSONAL non-commercial use, but it has a digital watermark. If the file was used/redistributed the d-watermark would show and action could be taken.) The app would only be able to download torrents with this watermark.

As more people download a file (and I'm sure there could be free things too, like OpenOffice and Linux distros) the faster the downloading begins and the less bandwidth it takes from the company's servers. Everyone wins provided the pricing is fair and reasonable.

Now most of you are thinking: Why would I do that when I can already do it on BitTorrent? BitTorrent isn't illegal, i hear you shout. Well what one has to remember is that we're tech savy. The very act of reading this site, joining these forums, and posting pretty much proves that.

This idea is for Joe Consumer. Or my mom. The people that when they delete their Firefox shortcut think they deleted the internet, their bookmarks, and their ebay account. The people who have a 2000 Gateway with 64mb Ram, 6gb HD, and XP Home. (Amazed it worked honestly.)

For Joe Consumer, it has to be simple and available. BitTorrent et al, are very accessible and easy to use. Most people don't want to be criminals, but I'm sure the conveniences and anonymity of the web make it easier on one's conscience. If the creative industry could just get together and make the Steam/iTunes/iApps store of the Music/TV/Movie industry.

Something like Digital-Netflix for both TV/Movie where you can rent it for $x.xx or buy it for $xx.xx. But instead they cling to draconian copy right litigation. Just take a look at YouTube sometime. Some videos have their audio disabled for using a copyrighted song, most are just getting pulled. I had a video up for TWO YEARS and it said it got pulled for a copyright by Square Enix. Funny thing? I have a SECOND VIDEO up using the SAME MOVIE and it hasn't been pulled.

It all seems fairly simple and obvious to me that if the industry's would catch up, half of this ISP policing would solve itself and we could all move on.
Cupboard 13th May 2009, 19:22 Quote
I can see why the ISPs didn't want to go with this, among other things they are having to spend money on trying to catch people then lose money when they leave!
DXR_13KE 13th May 2009, 22:23 Quote
Originally Posted by Cupboard
lose money when they leave!

in France you are forced to pay the internet service during the 1 year you are banned from the internet.
The_Beast 13th May 2009, 22:56 Quote
^^^ can you sign onto a different ISP? ^^^
leexgx 14th May 2009, 03:48 Quote
Originally Posted by The_Beast
^^^ can you sign onto a different ISP? ^^^

Id asume not (uk just give new name and thay give you bb)
Originally Posted by Faulk_Wulf

Sure something was posted there
Kasius 14th May 2009, 08:52 Quote
So who deems whether traffic is unlawful or not, i can see an automated process falling on it's arse and blocking un-necessarily. And i can't personally imagine potentially illegal traffic being flagged for human inspection working either as that would require considerable resource enhancement @ the ISP’s expense. In a market where ISP's are struggling to compete with one another AS IT IS extra expense simply isn't viable and many ISP’s would simply go out of business. Unless the creative industries want to fund sed employment? ISP's shouldn't have to shoulder this responsibility or be stuck with the burden of their arrogance simply due to their inability to move with change. It’s unfair to consumers and not the solution to a problem where the real offenders with simply find new methods to work the system.
gnutonian 14th May 2009, 09:35 Quote
^^^ can you sign onto a different ISP? ^^^
If you mean the new French law (we'll have to see if it takes proper effect, though, as it goes against the European Parliament vote of 6 May), then no. You will be banned from the internet for one year; and, like DXR_13KE said, you will still have to pay your internet bill throughout that year. "How" banned you are isn't clear yet: maybe you cannot get a connection in your name, or maybe they will slap you with a "restraining order" for public libraries' computers, internet cafés, etc.
So who deems whether traffic is unlawful or not
And that touches the big problem with laws like this: who gets to decide? If a judicial authority says you're not allowed on the internet, there is a reason, an investigation with a burden of proof and a process of appeal.
According to the French law passed a few days ago, any accusation from "interested parties" (entertainment industries, mostly) will cause you to get a warning. And another accusation a second warning. And a third accusation will get you banned from the interwebs.

No investigation, no trial, no burden of proof, no way to defend yourself and (as of yet?) no system of appealing. It is disgusting and a lot of innocent people will get warnings and cut-offs, as their computers are taken over, their IP addresses spoofed, or the accuser's information is just plain wrong (the most plausible reason of all...).

I realise I am talking about French law, but it is relevant to the topic. If the ISPs were willing to play e-police, the British consumer should stand up immediately to avoid a debacle as happened here. Private corporations have no right to spy on you, and the government does not have the right to ask or tell them to. You pay your ISP for the connection, not to make sure you don't access anything "dodgy". Under such logic, and for a small fee, you could get your ISP to babysit your children whilst you go out with your wife!

There are already systems and procedures in place to tackle online crime, and they work. However, by "crime" I do not mean copyright infringement, I mean real crime which hurts people; like child pornography, identity theft/card fraud, or plain stealing. The "cybercrime" units of most Western nations are pretty good at what they do; and they follow the same procedure as any offline police investigation: suspicion, investigation, accusation.
The reason we need rights for accused people is that sometimes the accused people are innocent.
These same systems and procedures could be used for copyright infringement/illicit data sharing. But in France's new law, the accused are automatically guilty; which goes against anything the democratic West is supposed to stand for. And when a nation like France adopts such a law (as opposed to countries like let's say Sudan), it sets a dangerous precedent for the citizens of other Western nations.
steveo_mcg 14th May 2009, 09:52 Quote
I thought in France you were guilty until proven innocent? If that's the case then the basic tenants of French law are already "against anything the democratic West is supposed to stand for". Don't get me wrong i agree with what your getting at but if your already guilty by accusation then this law isn't as much of a stretch. If the presumption is towards innocence then a system as implemented in France is a fairly big change.
gnutonian 14th May 2009, 10:25 Quote
Sorry, I should've made myself more clear: when I say "France's new law", I mean the "three-strikes" law that was approved a few days ago, and goes directly against the EU Parliament vote of 6 May stating internet access as a fundamental right, unless taken away by a judicial authority.

In any accusation in France, you are innocent until proven guilty. But in this new law, supposedly to combat online "piracy", an accusation is enough to make you guilty. Which, of course, is fundamentally wrong. There is no investigation, no trial, and as far as we know there isn't even a chance to appeal (did the lawmakers even think of that?).

This new law would "only" affect illegal filesharers, who upload and/or download copyrighted material; not any other (off-line) offense against the law. The "accusation proving the guilt" only applies to this particular 'anti-piracy) law, not other suspected offenses (thankfully!).

Having said that, it's still pretty disgusting. The chances of being wrongly accused are so big; and then to imagine there wouldn't even be a proper judicial investigation! By all means, if you think I broke the law - even if it's just for copyright infringement - investigate me, accuse me, but at the end of the day you will have to prove to me that I did it; I do not have to prove to you that I am innocent. The new "anti-piracy" (not the kind with boats, I might add) does exactly the opposite: it makes you guilty from the second you are accused, and makes you prove you are innocent (how are you going to do that? Unprotected wireless is not a good excuse in this country; and how do you prove someone spoofed your IP or owned your computer? Or, worse, how do you prove the accuser's secret [!] "proof" is wrong?).

The point I was trying to make (but obviously failed ;)) was that this new law is fundamentally, and French-constitutionally wrong. "Innocent until proven guilty" is a very important concept and should not be given up for anything; not even if you're the president and your (millionaire) friend who owns a lot of media outlets claims to lose a few thousand pounds over supposed piracy...

The government's job is to protect the public, not to accuse us and then expect us to prove our innocence. Whether it's online or offline crime, the same rules should apply. I'd rather - though with pain in the heart - see a criminal go free than to see an innocent person get punished. And the latter is exactly what is going to happen if this "three-strikes" law is executed.
steveo_mcg 14th May 2009, 10:43 Quote
My mistake. Sorry.
B3CK 14th May 2009, 20:27 Quote
So are there wire tapping laws in the EU like here in the US? If similar, how can someone even tell if your sharing copyrighted info unless they either share it themselves, or by monitoring your data/phone/cable lines? Seems to me either they are providing the copyrighted info to begin with, or are tapping your data lines. Either way, would give every defendant an leg to stand on in court.
Kasius 15th May 2009, 09:44 Quote
I imagine there would be very stringent guidelines in place to protect consumer privacy. An automated process as i mentioned above WILL fail (at least for the time being), though it will provide an base framework for human inspection on potentially illicit activity. But it's making that distinction between legal and illegal that will pose the problem.
Psytek 15th May 2009, 12:06 Quote
Innocent until someone calls you guilty... hardly fair.

Besides, everyone will just encrypt their torrents and downloads. I use sftp... no way anyone knows what I'm pulling down.

The only people this will catch are the 12 year olds who download one mp3 a month from limewire because its a popular song, but they are young kids with no money, and therefore can't buy music anyway. It's all pointless.

I pull down on average 20-30GB of data a day, and I've never had a letter from my isp. Yet all over the news are stories of old ladies being accused of downloading porn torrents, or middle aged dudes downloading amy whinehouse (as if anyone is downloading her music). Its BS.
nicae 15th May 2009, 15:29 Quote
Let me see if I got it straight: If a french dude shares proprietary child pron, he get's punished for the copyright violation before the child pron felony? That's the MAFIAA in action, alright!
LanMare 17th May 2009, 00:33 Quote
Security systems to protect content, whatever this content might be, have improve a lot during the last decade. If there were nobody finding a way to break these measures, they would still be unbreakable. Industry still needs these people who crack software, share musics, videos, etc, they just hate it when their profits get affected. The only problem is they always try to maximise their profits on a daily basis. On the other hand products tend to get higher prices because of these counter-measures , and everyone knows that if suddenly people would stop breaking rules, the prices wouldn't go down. It's all about money
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