The British government has announced plans to curb Internet piracy by restricting access of repeat offenders. In collaboration with the entertainment industry and Ofcom, Britain’s broadcasting regulator, the plan includes sending letters to customers who have been suspected of downloading illegal files, such as movies. Internet service providers would be required to send information collected about the offenders to media companies who could threaten them with legal action.
Ultimately, if a year passes without a cease of pirating activities, Ofcom would have the authority to order ISPs to cap the user’s Internet usage. The film and music industries around the world has long called for stricter measures to stop piracy, particularly with the advent of BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing system without any centralized servers. The law still has to pass through Parliament, and there will undoubtedly be serious concerns about privacy.
This move is part of a larger £200 million plan being initiated to connect everyone in the UK to high-speed Internet access by 2012. In the United States, bandwidth capping has been met with staunch opposition, forcing service providers to change their planned restrictions. A law is now moving through U.S. Congress that would place regulations on capping. France has announced plans to completely ban Internet pirates from access after three offenses. In Sweeden, owners of the popular torrent sharing site The Pirate Bay were convicted of copyright infringement and sentenced to prison, pending appeal.