Government ponders feasibility of Digital Economy Act

The Digital Economy Act, controversially pushed through after two hours of debate just before the general election last year, has reached the next stage in its journey to becoming a full-blown pirate-killing law.

The Act set out a plan for “reserve powers” which would be debated and agreed on once the Act was in place, in addition to provisions that Ofcom is already drawing up implementation plans for at the moment.

The peer-to-peer technology restrictions are nearly ready to be put online, but the aspects of the Act, where frequent users of “online lockers” will be warned by letter then disconnected from the internet, are not likely to be enacted until at least early 2012.

This is because the government has now asked Ofcom to perform a feasibility analysis of the parts of the Act that would block entire websites suspected of being used for illegal file sharing.

The government may have finally realised that it just might not be possible to go around blanket-banning sites they think are being used as file-sharing platforms – for example RapidShare and MegaUpload – and not harm the creative economy they are trying to protect with the Act.

Once they have decided whether or not to put the plan in place, if they go ahead they also have to agree on who will be paying for the letters they plan to send out to repeat offenders using the freshly-illegal services. The current proposal on the table is that the copyright holders foot three quarters of the bill with ISPs footing the rest.

As a result of all this, not a single warning letter has yet been sent to users thought to be file sharing.