Pirate Party UK: content industry wants a "music NSA"

The Pirate Party UK’s leader, Loz Kaye, has hit back at the British content industry pressuring top ISPs to introduce a database of suspected pirates for copyright breaches.

Speaking with TechEye, Kaye said the industry “seems intent on turning ISPs into the music NSA”.

Over the weekend, the Guardian revealed how BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and Talk Talk are all being told to adhere to build a database of customers who illegally download content – with the purpose of proescuting persistent offenders at a later date.

The oft criticised Digital Economy Act – drafted to make fighting piracy easier for the content industry – was voted into law in 2010, but delays have meant it may not become active policy until after the 2015 general election. This has frustrated Britain’s content industry, represented by the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI), which wants action soon.

It is expected that a database would be used to send letters to repeat offenders – at first. But it could later be used to target broadband customers by blocking them from using particular sites, temporarily disconnecting them, throttling web connections, or prosecution.

Prime minister David Cameron will sit down with the BPI, the industry group believed to be the driving force behind the measures, in mid-September. Piracy is expected to be a key area of discussion.

ISPs appear resistant to such blanket measures at the moment – with a Virgin Media spokesperson telling the Guardian that the current proposals are “unworkable”, while TalkTalk said customers’ rights “always come first” and would “never agree to anything that could compromise them”.

They would likely be met with criticism from the public in light of recent privacy awareness campaigns from activists. A voluntary code would also leave room for smaller ISPs to capitalise – as Andrew & Arnolds did after David Cameron announced his now infamous pornography filter.

The Pirate Party UK’s Loz Kaye suggested the proposals are in line with David Cameron’s current policy approach to internet censorship and urged the Coalition government for “clarity”.

“The content industry seems intent on turning Internet Service Providers in to the music NSA,” Kaye said. “Having failed with the democratic and legal route as the Digital Economy Act is a lame duck, they now want to skip that and get ISPs to do the policing on their own. “This will be an unwarranted intrusion, with no clear positive outcome.

“The BPI apparently wants to take advantage of Cameron’s current wish to blame the internet for everything,” Kaye said. “The government’s digital policy making is in chaos. We need clarity from the coalition – do they back site blocking or not?”

“Do they back throwing entire households off the Internet or not? Until there are some answers, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats can have no credibility on digital policy,” Kaye said.