ISPs propose pro-piracy website blacklist

UK rights holders and internet service providers (ISPs) are debating an alternative to the Digital Economy Act which would see top file sharing websites blacklisted.

However, Big Brother Watch has spoken out against these plans claiming that internet users should not be “molly-coddled” by their ISPs.  

They are planning a controversial Voluntary Code of Practice. That’d be the freedom to block any website that pushes and promotes copyright infringement online, with the group having already drawn up a list of targets including The Pirate Bay, NewzBin2 and Rapidshare.

ISPs are not pleased with a preliminary review from Ofcom. As part of the Digital Economy Act the watchdog proposed putting in place “technical measures” such as speed and access restrictions on ISPs, as well as giving those using offending sites and downloading material warning notices.

ISPs are worried that this would damage the way they operate.

One rights holder told ISP Review that it believed blocking users would be a much cheaper method. Others have said that they don’t feel comfortable cutting off websites without the oversight of a judge.

Top10 believes that the proposed amendment “isn’t entirely without merit.”

Jonathan Leggett at Top10 told TechEye: “The proposed amendment to legislation isn’t entirely without merit. Not least in the fact that it’s a positive step away from targeting end users, which is not only counterproductive but nigh on unenforceable.  

“Focusing on blocking a smaller number of the best-known sites, which account for the majority of illegal downloads, on paper at least seems much more workable.  What’s more, contrary to popular belief, while web-savvy types know how to get around site blocking, the less tech-minded punter won’t have that kind of knowledge.

“However, the new approach has some significant holes in it. Voluntary codes very rarely get results.  More pertinent, though, is that the opaque process for blocking sites appears fraught with potential problems. To that extent it could be more costly and more likely to become mired in lengthy legal battles than what was being proposed before.”

Daniel Hamilton, director at Big Brother Watch believes copyright is important but control shouldn’t lie in the hands of ISPs. 

“Leaving aside arguments about the rights and wrongs of websites such as Pirate Bay, Internet Service Providers shouldn’t seek to impose blanket bans on online file-sharing services,” he tells TechEye.

“While illegal copyright infringement is a serious problem, internet users ought to be allowed to access these services at their own risk rather than being molly-coddled by their ISPs”.