UK ISP Institutes “Three-Strikes” On Its Own

Softens previous one-strike stance after admitting it was “exceeding the expectations of copyright owners.”

UK ISP Karoo has apparently been disconnecting BitTorrent users accused of copyright infringement after a single notification by copyright holders without offering customers a chance to dispute the allegations.

A customer had it happen to her after her ex-boyfriend downloaded a copy of “Tombraider” from BitTorrent tracker site Demonoid while she was away on vacation,

“Well I get home to find the net isn’t workin, I boot the router, check over the settings, signal is on, but its rejecting my user/pass – ring up – abuse of the account.,” she says. “The X was “using bit torrent to download tombraider this morning. “Well no waiting for solictors or court orders, that sounds like they was sniffin/monitorin on deeee monoid. ”

Karoo is now backpedaling on the policy and says it will now adopt a “three-strikes” rule instead.

“It is evident that we have been exceeding the expectations of copyright owners, the media and internet users,” reads a statement by the ISP. “So, we have changed our policy to move in more line with the industry standard approach, whilst still taking the issues of copyright infringement and illegal internet activity seriously. Going forward, we will provide customers with three written notifications before their service is temporarily suspended.”

The Open Rights Group, the well known grassroots organization that fights for civil liberties in the digital world, is now calling these sham copyright infringement accusations and summary disconnections “Kang-Karoo courts.”

It rightly points out that customers are given no chance to contest the accusations or allowed to make an appeal. Submitted ‘evidence’ is not examined by impartial judges nor can it be disputed. Customers are also forced to sign a statement admitting their guilt in order to be reconnected.

“This can take place, according to Karoo, because users have signed an agreement which precludes infringing copyright,” reads a statement by the group.

The group also asks that Karoo consider the repercussions of unsubstantiated accusations on families and to consider that sometimes the acts are unintentional.

“There is a basic question of proportionality,” adds the statement. “A teenager who downloads a song with a purchase value of under a pound may cause their parent’s job or businesses to be disrupted. Copyright infringement could easily lead to loss of a citizen’s ability to partake in political action organised online.”

With UK Culture Secretary Andy Burnham already saying that “three-strikes” is too draconian to be included in the govt’s efforts to fight illegal file-sharing, it’s unfortunate that ISPs like Karoo are taking matters into their hands, even doing more than what copyright holders are asking for.

Worse still is that Karoo has established no effective means for customers to dispute any allegations against them.

It’s a “Kang-Karoo” court indeed.

Stay tuned.

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