An increasing death-knell is sounding for Lord Mandelson’s proposals for 3-strikes Internet disconnections. The latest blow comes from the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group. After a consultation earlier this year, they have now published their response, and it’s not one favorable to ‘Darth Mandy’ and his plans.
Recently there has been a series of blows against proposals for ‘graduated response’ or ‘three strikes’ measures in the UK for dealing with alleged illicit file-sharers.
This week alone we’ve had an Early Day Motion from a member of Lord Mandelson’s own party, and more recently ISPs have talked about the futility of the suggested legislation.
Mandelson reportedly started pushing it after a meeting with Hollywood mogul David Geffen, and was apparently uninterested in the whole situation prior to the meeting, although that claim was flatly denied.
Now, the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group (apComms) has released its own findings to its more broad consultation, and it’s not good reading for 3-strikes proponents.
There were significantly fewer responses than for other similar consultations, although the scope was much wider. It was also much more open, without assumptions or leading questions. It was, in fact, fairly neutral and seemed to be concerned with gathering information, rather than trying to solicit support for a predetermined policy. Most appropriately, it was titled “Can we keep our hands off the net?”
The topics covered included dealing with ‘bad traffic’ (which includes copyright infringement, P2P and botnets), behavioral advertising (such as Phorm), online privacy and child pornography procedures. Finally it dealt with the issue of who should foot the bill for Internet traffic, and whether network neutrality should be codified. The first and last questions are of particular concern to TorrentFreak, and the conclusions make for interesting reading.
On the subject of P2P and copyright enforcement, they came to the following conclusions;
58. We conclude that much of the problem with illegal sharing of copyrighted material has been caused by the rightsholders, and the music industry in particular, being far too slow in getting their act together and making popular legal alternatives available.
59. We do not believe that disconnecting end users is in the slightest bit consistent with policies that attempt to promote eGovernment, and we recommend that this approach to dealing with illegal file-sharing should not be further considered.
60. We think that it is inappropriate to make policy choices in the UK when policy options are still to be agreed by the EU Commission and EU Parliament in their negotiations over the “Telecoms Package”. We recommend that the Government terminate their current policy-making process, and restart it with a new consultation once the EU has made its decisions.
Network Neutrality and actual bandwidth availability was also a concern, with the following recommendations being made;
212. We recommend that Ofcom keep the issue of “network neutrality” under review and include a section in each annual report that indicates whether there are any signs of change.
214. We recommend that Ofcom regulate to require ISPs to advertise a minimum guaranteed speed for broadband connections.
We know that many of our UK readers will be happy with the last recommendation, especially after a study by OFCOM earlier this year found that many subscribers were seeing an average of 40% of their connection’s advertised speed. A more appropriate advertised speed will also prevent many BitTorrent clients from being setup for speeds they can’t actually achieve.
If you thought that such open minded, clearheaded and competent recommendations couldn’t have come from elected officials, well, the good news is they’re not all luddites. ApComms’s Joint-Chairman, Derek Wyatt MP was formerly Head of Programmes at WireTV, before becoming the director of BSkyB’s Computer Channel (later ‘.tv‘), leaving when he was elected to government. Other executives of apComms include a former BT researcher (Chris Mole MP), and Dr Nick Palmer MP, who has studied AI at MIT.
An extremely well-educated and technologically literate group making these recommendations should help carry some weight. Whether or not it will be enough to convince the Peter Mandelson’s and Sion Simon‘s of the government, remains to be seen.
The full report is available here.