In a move which is bound to generate much debate and more than a little anger on the world wide web, the United Kingdom are considering a proposal which will terminate the Internet access of those who repeatedly download pirated music and movies online. Under the proposed three strikes and you’re out legislation, Internet Service Providers who fail to police the net, could also face prosecution.
If the controversial proposal passes into law, people who illegally download material protected under copyright will receive an email warning, then a suspension and if they are caught a third time, ISP’s will be required to terminate the offender’s Internet access. No further information about the controversial plan has been released. So it is not yet known if those who have had their Internet access terminated, will be placed on a blacklist prohibiting them from signing up with another ISP.
ISP’s have repeatedly stated that they are not in a position to police their customer’s activities on the net. However, some of the biggest ISP’s in the UK are considering the introduction of a voluntary scheme for monitoring their customers illegal activities online. But to date, no agreement has been reached between BT, Virgin and Tiscali.
The Internet Service Providers Association in the UK are fundamentally opposed to the introduction of any scheme where they can be held liable for what their customers do on the net. But the Government has made it clear to the industry that if they’re not prepared to stamp out the practice of illegal file sharing on the Internet, the Government are willing to step in and regulate the industry (source: BBC News).
Of course, the biggest obstacle to implementing any legislation will involve changing the culture of the Internet. The vast majority of Internet users don’t consider illegal file sharing as a crime.
For too long the Internet has operated without borders and with very little interference from western Governments. So throwing up the barricades now will result in a huge backlash against any Government who is prepared to take those first treacherous steps towards regulating the Internet industry. But I am of the opinion that we need some Government leadership on this and many other issues related to the Internet. Unfortunately, the Internet Industry isn’t going to regulate itself. If they were, they would have done so already.