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UK Proposes To Cut Internet Access To File-Sharing Offenders

August 25, 2009

British government proposals issued on Tuesday could lead to repeat offenders who persist in illegally downloading music from file-sharing sites such as Limewire to be blocked from accessing the Web, Reuters reported.

The move comes as a part of new government ideas to speed up the process of tackling unlawful peer-to-peer file-sharing to prevent damage to the content industries.

The UK government has set a target of reducing the problem by at least 70 percent in the next few years.

The proposals include requiring Internet Service Providers to take action against individual repeat infringers, including blocking access to download sites, reducing broadband speeds or by temporarily suspending an individual’s Internet account.

Ofcom, UK’s media regulator, would need to ascertain that technical measures were needed, meaning the earliest measures to counter the problem would not come into play until 2012, according to earlier government proposals.

Ofcom said in a statement: “The government has now reached the view that, if action was deemed necessary, this might be too long to wait given the pressure put on the creative industries by piracy. The new ideas outlined today would potentially allow action to be taken earlier.”

The Secretary of State would direct Ofcom to introduce technical measures under the new proposals to clamp down on piracy if necessary.

Minister for Digital Britain, Stephen Timms, said technology and consumer behavior is fast changing and it’s important that Ofcom has the flexibility to respond quickly to deal with unlawful file-sharing.

All over the world, governments have had varying levels of success trying to find a solution to the problem of Internet piracy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy backed a law to cut Internet access to those found guilty of downloading music illegally that has already been watered down by France’s top constitutional court and a vote has been delayed until September.

The French parliament passed legislation in May that would see a new state-agency sending warning letters to file sharers. If they are caught three times, they will be cut off.

Similar proposed legislation in Australia and New Zealand has caused many web surfers to come out in protest.

Estimates suggest that half of all the traffic on the net in the UK involves illegally shared content.

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