UK ISP “Dismayed” by Govt’s “Futile U-Turn on P2P”

Talk Talk criticizes disconnecting users as “likely breach” of “fundamental human rights,” and worse yet, that ultimately “they will not work.”

UK ISP Talk Talk, which claims to be the country’s largest broadband provider with over 4.25 million customers, expressed its strong displeasure late yesterday upon learning that the govt’s thinking on illegal file-sharing had “evolved” and that disconnecting users from the Internet was back on the list of acceptable technical solutions to the problem.

“We’re dismayed by the U-turn on illegal file-sharing announced today by Lord Mandelson,” says the company in a press release. “Barely two months after the publication of largely sensible and pragmatic measures to tackle the problem (in the Digital Britain Report) Lord Mandelson has, it seems, caved in under pressure from powerful lobbyists in the content industry.”

It alludes to reports that a P2P crackdown apparently wasn’t even on the radar of Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who heads the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and whom is responsible for fighting illegal file-sharing as outlined in the Digital Britain Report, until after recently returning from a holiday spent on the Greek Island of Corfu with none other than David Geffen, billionaire record and film producer and vocal anti-P2P critic.

“Until the past week, Mandelson had shown little personal interest in the Digital Britain agenda,” a source told the Daily Mail. “Suddenly Peter returned from holiday and effectively issued this edict that the regulation needs to be tougher.”

The regulations are to be tougher alright, for the BIA now feels that the current timetable, which stands at 2-3 yrs for a 70% reduction using a combination of notifications and technical measures, would take an “unacceptable amount of time to complete in a situation that calls for urgent action.”

Talk Talk notes that it’s for a combination of notifications and the technical measures, i.e. bandwidth throttling, outlined in the Digital Britain report, but feels that disconnecting users “will sidestep proper scrutiny, likely breach fundamental human rights and result in innocent people being disconnected or, worse, prosecuted.”

France’s Constitutional Council, that country’s top judicial body, ruled that a similar proposal to disconnect users per a “three-strikes” graduated response system could only be done with a court order. It said that Internet service is essential for the “free communication of thoughts” and “participation in democratic life,” and therefore access to it cannot so easily be curtailed.

Talk Talk also lambastes the futility of trying to disconnect accused file-sharers.

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

Exactly. There was a study done just last year in which researchers proved just how easy it is to generate false copyright infringement claims, managing to get 3 helpless laserjet printers nabbed for allegedly downloading copies of the movie “Iron Man.”

The ISP says it will “strongly resist” any efforts to force it to act as “Internet police,” and faults the fact that any implementation of added technical measures will only mean customers have to pay a “tax” to pay for its costs solely in order to “protect the outdated business models of the content industry.”

Ultimately, Talk Talk believes that heavy interference will only mean content providers will have less of an incentive to adapt to the digital distribution age.

“This will mean that the underlying problem will perpetuate for much longer and the development of internet services in the UK will be detrimentally affected,” it says.

Let’s hope Lord Mandelson is listening, and make sure you write your MP today to make sure.

Stay tuned.

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