UK Lords pass controversial Digital Economy Bill

By on March 17, 2010, 2:19 AM
The British House of Lords has passed a controversial anti-piracy bill that, if enacted into law, would require ISPs to track and report suspected file sharers to copyright holders as well as the nation's Office of Communications (OFCOM). OFCOM would be charged with setting the parameters in which ISPs would handle alleged infringers, such as how they would monitor customers, when to report them, how long to retain data, and so on.

Under the Digital Economy Bill, ISPs would not be responsible for the wrong doing of its subscribers -- but only if they comply with OFCOM's regulations. Internet providers would ultimately be pressured to enforce "technical measures" on suspected offenders, including limiting their bandwidth capacity and speed, restricting access to certain material, suspending their service, and/or imposing other limitations.

Opposers of the measure say its text is purposefully vague, and subscribers may not have to be proven guilty before facing punishment. Also, the proposed law could hold an entire account or household responsible, making no distinction between individuals. The bill is headed to the House of Commons, where it is expected to be strongly contested for crossing the EU's Technical Standards Directive.

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