Mandelson puts 'three strikes' internet plan in motion

Mandelson puts 'three strikes' internet plan in motion

Summary: Proposals that could force ISPs to cut off the internet connection of persistent copyright infringers will be included in a bill going before parliament next month


Business minister Peter Mandelson has reiterated the government's 'three strikes' proposals to disconnect suspected copyright infringers from the internet, drawing sharp criticism from the UK's biggest ISP.

Speaking at a cabinet creative industries conference on Wednesday, Lord Mandelson said anti-piracy proposals made in August will form the basis of the Digital Economy Bill, expected to go before parliament in late November.

Under those proposals, suspected unauthorised file-sharers will be issued two warnings. If those are ignored, the government may take a technical measure, such as ordering the ISP to stop service for the individual in question.

"We will put in place a fair, thorough process, involving clear warnings to people suspected of unlawful file-sharing, with technical measures such as account suspension only used as a very last resort," Mandelson said.

TalkTalk said it is disappointed Mandelson is pressing ahead with the government plans. "We will not disconnect people unless a proper court order is given," a spokesperson for the ISP said.

TalkTalk last week began a campaign against the plans, following a test in which a security expert from the ISP demonstrated the ease of illegally downloading files by cracking home Wi-Fi networks. The experiment was designed to show how easy it would be for a file-sharer to hack into an innocent person's broadband service, leaving the customer to bear the brunt of any investigation.

However, Mandelson said in a statement that an appeals process would be put in place to guard against this. "Only persistent rule breakers would be affected — and there would be an independent, clear and easy appeals process to ensure that the correct infringer is penalised," he said

Mandelson told ISPs in his speech that they will not be expected to foot the whole bill for putting the proposals in action, such as notifying suspected unauthorised file-sharers. "Neither do we want internet service providers to be unfairly burdened," he said. "ISPs and rights holders will share the costs, on the basis of a flat fee that will allow both sides to budget and to plan."

A source at a British ISP, who wished to remain anonymous, said the measures could be extremely costly for ISPs and, ultimately for their customers, depending on how the government proposals were implemented.

For example, ISPs may have to use deep packet inspection (DPI) technology to scan each data packet, which is expensive at a network level, according to the source. Not only would using DPI have privacy implications, but the costs could be passed on to the consumer, the source added.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are also concerned about the government proposals. ZDNet UK understands that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) believes the plans could increase officers' workload, as determined unauthorised file-sharers are likely to encrypt their traffic. This would make monitoring peer-to-peer networks virtually impossible.

Topics: Government UK, Broadband, Networking

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • who wouldn

    Hmm yes indeed, who wouldn
  • How is it...

    that a twice disgraced, unelected politician appears to have such power, and acts contrary to ALL advice.

    What arrogance must it take for such a person to believe he is in a position to 'educate' us on the rights (and wrongs) of Invisible Posessions.

    I am a file sharer. I have downloaded and uploaded massive amounts of material, all of it copyright. Am I to assume I am doing wrong?

    I have never downloaded any RIAA material. All the music I want to share is Creative Commons licensed, and believe me it is of far better quailty and range than anything the other lot churn out. Similarly, all the software I want is under FOSS license, mostly GPL.
  • and not to mention...

    The police have already voice there concerns about waisting time chasing bloody shadows and jamming up court rooms full of innocent people, the police should save both themselves and us time and money and just pursue Peter Mandelson's private exotic meetings with prominent media chief executive's in private locations, ending hopefully with an arrest and successful prosecution.
  • Impossible to police

    How do the government - and Mandelson in particular since he is obviously an expert in these matters - expect to differentiate between legitimate file sharing and piracy?

    The new Google OS is available, at Google's behest, through bittorrent download. The government seems to be behind the use of open source OS and applications, many of which are distributed through peer-to-peer sites and applications.

    The only way to deal with this is to inspect traffic to and from every broadband user's connection... Surely there would be huge, and I suggest insurmountable, privacy infringements involved?

    Send this disgraced, unelected and unwanted buffoon back to wherever he was hiding since his last tabloid newspaper expos
  • Here we go again...

    Yes here we go again with the political soundbites and supposed great plans and ideas of how to 'solve' the file sharing 'problem'.
    Well not like this, that's for sure!
    How many times do we need to say it, you cannot stop filesharing. Much like the equally retarded and hopeless 'war on drugs', you cannot stop certain behaviours by force on the end user.
    If you download a song you will be in trouble.
    Who cares?
    Does anyone actually get worried about this kind of stuff?
    I know I don't.
    Peter Mandelson doesn't have a clue what he is even attempting to get involved in, none of these Ministers do. that much is obvious.
    Just another waste of funds and time trying to chase down the criminals that download digital data for free...
    ...not sure how that is supposed to actually 'stop' it though.
    Morons, the lot of them.