ISPs brand Mandelson 'internet villain' of the year

The annual ISPA awards saw Mandelson condemned for 'ignoring principles of better regulation', and Tom Watson honoured as 'internet hero' for opposing the Digital Economy Bill

Peter Mandelson has been voted 'internet villain' of the year, according to UK ISPs, who voted for Digital Economy Act opponent Tom Watson MP as 'internet hero' of the year.

Mandelson, the progenitor of the copyright crackdown legislation, was "unable to pick up his award so the award will be forwarded on to him", the ISP Association (ISPA) said in a statement recording the results of its annual awards ceremony, held on Thursday night.

Labour MP Watson was a vocal opponent of what was at the time the Digital Economy Bill, criticising the fast-tracking of the legislation in the dying days of the last parliament. When it came to the final Commons vote on the act, he defied the Labour whip for the first time in his parliamentary career, tweeting afterwards that doing so had made him feel "physically sick".

The act established a framework that could see people disconnected from the internet for repeatedly, unlawfully sharing copyright material online. The legislation also forced ISPs to set up complex systems for notifying and identifying suspected infringers. In the brief Commons debate that preceded the law being passed, the Labour MP John Grogan suggested that Mandelson had only decided to crack down on unlawful file-sharers after "one of his meetings in Corfu with some people [who] were very prominent in the Hollywood industry".

"The ISPA Council decided that Lord Mandelson was a deserved winner of the villain award for ignoring principles of better regulation to amend an open consultation following lobbying from an interest group — no prizes for guessing which one," ISPA said in its statement.

On Thursday, BT and TalkTalk announced their application for a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act, arguing that it did not comply with European legislation on privacy and the responsibilities of ISPs.

The ISPA Awards 2010 also honoured internet service providers in a variety of categories, including Namesco for shared hosting, NewNet for dedicated hosting, Gradwell for internet telephony, Freedom4 WiFi for mobile broadband, Claranet for business customer service and business fixed broadband, PlusNet for consumer customer service, Cybermoor for access innovation, Childnet for internet safety, Bolton Literacy Trust for digital inclusion, Orange for corporate social responsibility and Be Broadband for consumer fixed broadband.


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