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EU promises illegal downloaders a fair trial

New legislation cover all 27 member states

The EU is introducing legislation that will ensure web users accused of illegally downloading are put through a "fair and impartial procedure" before being disconnected.

Measures to tackle internet piracy outlined by Lord Mandelson last month will see those suspected of illegal file-sharing issued with two warning letters before having their internet access suspended. The measures are expected to come into force next year.

While Mandelson claims "technical measures will be a last resort" and a "proper route of appeal" will be available for those suspended, other organisations including ISP TalkTalk claim some web users will be unfairly punished by the measures, that take a 'guilty until proven innocent' approach.

Under the New Telecoms Reform Package, web users thought to be illegally downloading in any of the EU's 27 member states will have a fair trial before being disconnected.

However, the EU hasn't defined what constitutes a "fair and impartial" trial.

"It has been long hard battle but at least all sides have acknowledged that fundamental rights of users need to be guaranteed in the digital world," said Monique Goyens, the director general of BEUC, the European Consumers' Organisation.

"However, these rights will be meaningless if Hadopi-style laws are allowed to be enforced at national level," she told the referring to BBC legislation passed in France earlier this year.

The legislation sees accused illegal downloaders issued with warning letters and emails, followed by a year's ban from the web if they caught offending for a third time.

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See also: Illegal downloaders also spend legitimately on music

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