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Ofcom: Illegal file-sharing warning letters to be issued in 2013

Regulatory body says three-strikes measures will go ahead despite concerns over DEA

Ofcom says illegal file-sharers will begin receiving warning letters regarding their online activities as early as summer 2013.

The warning letters are the first-step in the 'three-strikes' rule set out in the Digital Economy Act in a bid to tackle net piracy. The Act, which was made law in April last year, states that those thought to have illegally file-shared digital files will be issued with a warning letter in a bid to 'educate' the recipient that their online activities are illegal. Repeat offenders could also be faced with 'technical measures' including having their net connection throttled or even be disconnected from the web.

Ofcom was tasked with setting out an 'obligations code' and under its proposals, which have yet to finalised, the letters will notify web users that their connection has been used to illegally share files and how they can protect their net connection if they think its been hijacked and used by someone else to obtain the illegal content.

Furthermore, ISPs will be required to monitor web users thought to be illegally file-sharing and prove they can match their personal details to the IP address being used.

According to Tech Radar, Campbell Cowie, director of internet policy at Ofcom revealed the time scale a Westminster eForum on the Digital Economy Act.

Cowie also said that he expects ISPs to begin implement the technology to fulfil the measure as well as creating an independent appeals body next year.

He also said that this timeline would remain in place despite the fact BT and TalkTalk recently had a request to appeal against the Digital Economy Act granted, after the pair said the act had been subject to "insufficient scrutiny" . A hearing is expected to take place next year.

However, at the same eForum, PC Pro said TalkTalk's head of strategy and regulation, Andrew Heaney, said the letters were "frankly little better than the bullying and threats that's gone on by ACS Law and those other solicitors".

"In attempting to target and deter infringers, it will catch innocent subscribers."


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