Those who illegally download movies and music in the UK could have their Internet service cut off under new legislative proposals being drafted by the government as part of a planned crackdown on piracy to be announced next week.

The proposed new law is based on a 'three-strike' system, similar to that under discussion in France, and would require ISPs to take action against the estimated six million users a year who access pirated material. Under proposals, a warning email will be sent to first-time offenders, a second offence will warrant a temporary suspension and a third offence will see their contract with their ISP suspended.

Although the full details are not yet available, the news is already causing consternation among privacy advocacy groups as ISPs would likely be required to snoop at the content being sent over their networks.