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New internet piracy measures get mixed reactions

TalkTalk says proposal won't work

New measures to tackle internet piracy that could cut illegal downloaders' web access, have been applauded by Moneysupermarket.com.

The comparison website said that it believes the new initiative will educate web users who don't know file-sharing is illegal.

"This is a timely move from the government. Many people may be unaware that the way they are downloading is illegal and this announcement should prompt people to think before they use an illegal site," said James Parker, broadband manager at Moneysupermarket.com.

The government's Digital Britain report originally suggested ISPs should send warning letters to web users suspected of illegal downloading. If those efforts failed to reduce piracy by at least 70 percent, Ofcom would, in 2012, have the power to slow down users' connections.

However, an amendment to the Digital Britain report, which was released today, sees Ofcom removed from the loop. Instead those regularly downloading copyright content will have their internet connection blocked completely should they continue file-sharing after receiving the warning letters.

Furthermore, such a move would not be instigated by a failure to reduce by piracy by 70 percent, but would up to the discretion of ministers. The secretary of state, rather than Ofcom, would hold the power to introduce the technical measures.

"Although there are many illegal sites, there are also plenty of legitimate places to download from such as iTunes or Spotify - which allow users to legally stream music from a vast library - and these kinds of services should also help to stop illegal downloaders. The sooner people are wise to which sites are legitimate places to use the better," Parker added.

However, UK ISP TalkTalk believes the new proposals "will sidestep proper scrutiny, likely breach fundamental human rights and result in innocent people being disconnected or, worse, prosecuted". The ISP also says the measures are unlikely to work.

"Disconnecting alleged offenders will be futile given that it is relatively easy for determined filesharers to mask their identity or their activity to avoid detection. The evidence that is used to identify offenders is unreliable due to the prevalence of multi-users per account and Wi-Fi-hijacking and so will result in innocent customers being cut-off from broadband," said the ISP.

The ISP said it will "strongly resist any attempts to introduce laws that would put obligations on ISPs to act as 'internet police' and implement technical measures against their consumers".

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See also: Lord Mandelson calls for internet piracy crackdown

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