Proposed Anti-Piracy Legislation is Flawed, ISP Says

In recent weeks there has been a lot of debate about the UK government's upcoming plans to disconnect alleged file-sharers from the Internet. Now, ISP TalkTalk enters the discussions saying that the proposed legislation is unworkable and that it "contradicts fundamental human rights."

wirelessCheered on by the music industry, the UK government is desperately trying to tackle the issue of online piracy. This has resulted in a proposal from Lord Mandelson, who plans to disconnect alleged file sharers without any judicial process. These plans are said to cost more for the ISPs to implement than the total financial damages the music industry claims to suffer from piracy in the UK.

But the high costs involved are not the only problem the Internet providers are worried about. In a recent blog post, Andrew Heaney, Executive Director of Strategy and Regulation of the ISP TalkTalk points out that the new legislation will not only lead to numerous wrongful accusations, but it also violates human rights.

“It would put in place a principle of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ that contradicts fundamental human rights. But moreover the proposals will be totally unworkable – and today we’ve proved why,” Heaney writes.

To show how easily people might get disconnected for ‘crimes’ they did not commit, one of their Internet security experts went out to a residential road to see how many unsecured Wi-Fi connections he could run into. It didn’t take long for him to find several unsecured connections from which he could easily download whatever files he wanted to.

Under the new law, these unsecured hotspots could earn their unsuspecting owners a temporary Internet disconnection, and that’s not a good thing according to TalkTalk. “It is absurd to make people, in effect, legally responsible for the traffic on their internet connections and require them to prevent any unauthorised traffic,” Heaney says.

“TalkTalk acknowledges that there is a problem with illegal filesharing and that solutions must be found. First and foremost the content industry must develop new business models to make content more easily available and more affordable,” he adds.

So, instead of trying to overcome the piracy problem by flawed legislation, the entertainment industries should focus on innovation and develop new business models that will convert pirates to paying customers.

Until that happens, TalkTalk will do everything in its power to prevent the current plans from being signed into law. “We will continue to strongly resist any approach that does not protect the innocent,” Heaney concludes.

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