UK ISPs to boot file sharers offline

The British government today unveiled new rules that may lead to file sharers who repeatedly share copyrighted music and movies to temporarily lose their Internet access.

Despite being heavily criticized by civil rights groups and ISPs, the proposed rules changed from restricting users’ broadband speeds to blocking access to peer-to-peer networks and possibly banishment from the Internet.  If agreed upon by lawmakers, the law could go into effect as early as 2011.

Representatives from the music and movie industries said the British government wasn’t doing enough to reduce file sharing, which led lawmakers to begin brainstorming possible legislation.

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“The government has now reached the view that, if action was deemed necessary, this might be too long to wait given the pressure put on the creative industries by piracy,” the British government said in a statement.  “The new ideas outlined today would potentially allow action to be taken earlier.”

France signed a similar file sharing bill into law in May, also creating a government agency designed specifically to track down Internet users who infringe on music or movie copyrights.  However, legislative issues halted the law from being implemented, and almost two years after French President Nicolas Sarkozy first discussed the law, it still is unknown when enforcement will begin.

In the United States, similar laws have been shot down, even though the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has issued thousands of John Doe lawsuits against alleged file sharers.  Since the current Obama administration has several former RIAA executives — and the DoJ recently enforced a fine against Jammie Thomas — there is concern by some privacy experts that similar laws could be proposed here in the US, in the future.

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