Well, the government’s statement of P2P filesharing has finally arrived (“Government statement on the proposed P2P file-sharing legislation”), and it contains 3 major proposals.
The most important is that the government has changed its mind and appearently decided to cut off internet access for suspcted filesharers, although they realise how extreme this is and tie it up with lots of weasel words:
We are considering the case for adding suspension of accounts into the list of measures that could be imposed. This does not necessarily mean that suspension would be used – this step would obviously be a very serious sanction as it would affect all members of a household equally, and might disrupt access to other communications, so it should be regarded as very much a last resort.
On timescale, the government want things to happen a lot more quickly. Originally, the actions against filesharers would only kick in after the general election — which made a lot of sense politically. But now they want to do it sooner:
Timescale – the previous proposals, whilst robust, would take an unacceptable amount of time to complete in a situation that calls for urgent action. We continue to believe that these two obligations will make a significant difference in the level of unlawful P2P activity, and represent the most effective way in dealing with unlawful file-sharing. But this is a complex area which has not been tackled in legislation before, and we acknowledge that if the original proposals are shown not to be fully effective, this could mean it would be a very long time before further steps could be taken.
I’m puzzled why they have changed their mind on this. They must realise that annoying millions of internet users just before a general election isn’t going to improve their chances at all.
On costs, they want ISPs and rights holders to go 50:50 on the costs of notifying alleged filesharers:
We are minded to allocate costs so that essentially individual parties will have to bear the costs they incur as a result of these obligations apart from the operating costs of sending notifications, which will be split 50:50 between ISPs and rights holders.
Because all these changes affect the ongoing consultation, they’re extending it:
In order to allow us to do so and to give people more time to consider their response, we will be extending the deadline to 29th September 2009. We would also welcome additional comments from those stakeholders who have already submitted a response.
OK, that’s what the government intend to do. In my next post I’ll explain why it’s a bad idea.