thoughts and observations of a privacy, security and internet researcher, activist, and policy advisor

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

UK introducing "Three Strikes and Your Traffic will be Censored"

The UK government just produced a comprehensive "Digital Britain" report that lays out its strategy to improve broadband connectivity. While there has been significant media coverage of the proposed levy of 50 pence a month to fund better broadband rollout in rural areas, the really interesting part are the copyright enforcement ideas. The Hermes Project reports:
The government will give powers to Ofcom to put in place a system for repeat offenders that is known as "write and sue", and they will also work with the ISPs on technical measures against the problem - which is a eminently sensible response given the lack of scaleable technical solutions for such incredibly complex requirements - which is naturally not something that the people at the BPI agree with.

As the "write and sue" name suggests, ISPs will be required to work with Ofcom under the terms of a Code of Practice to write to those infringing copyright, followed by a court process of the release of identity information and civil action if users do not desist. The interesting part is the technical measures that may happen if this is still not effective. From the report:
"The Government will also provide for backstop powers for Ofcom to place additional conditions on ISPs aimed at reducing or preventing online copyright infringement by the application of various technical measures. In order to provide greater certainty for the development of commercial agreements, the Government proposes to specify in the legislation what these further measures might be; namely:

* Blocking (Site, IP, URL)
* Protocol blocking
* Port blocking
* Bandwidth capping (capping the speed of a subscriber’s Internet connection and/or capping the volume of data traffic which a subscriber can access);
* Bandwidth shaping (limiting the speed of a subscriber’s access to selected protocols/services and/or capping the volume of data to selected protocols/services);
* Content identification and filtering– or a combination of these measures."
And that's where things start to get incredibly complex and costly - although no doubt there are plenty of DPI vendors who won't complain if the need to undertake these measures is enshrined in law.
This is where the interests of ISPs (saving bandwidth) and the content industry (filtering copyrighted content and punishing file-sharers) finally align. The Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) industry will love this.

I am not a lawyer, but I guess there will be serious problems with the EU's e-Privacy directive and the human right to telecommunications privacy in the EDHR. The EU commission has already opened an infringement procedure against the UK because of their weak position on Phorm.


Anonymous Hermes said...

You can also be sure that there will be lots of lobbying to governments going on about changing regulations ...

Thx for the link.


10/1/10 12:44


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