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File sharing pirates face web exclusion

Simon Quicke

The government is expected to increase the pressure on software file-sharers by cutting those guilty of spreading illegal applications off from their internet connection.

Muted as one of the possible measures that would be included in the Digital Britain report an amendment giving Ofcom the power to cut off pirates now looks on the cards.

The plan had been to give Ofcom until 2012 to work out a strategy towards peer-2-peer file sharers but that has now changed.

"Technology and consumer behaviour is fast-changing and it's important that Ofcom has the flexibility to respond quickly to deal with unlawful file-sharing," said Stephen Timms, Minister for Digital Britain.

"We've been listening carefully to responses to the consultation this far, and it's become clear there are widespread concerns that the plans as they stand could delay action, impacting unfairly upon rights holders," he added.

The initial reaction from the anti-piracy groups to the Digital Britain was that it did not go far enough against pirates but there have been some doubts expressed over the option of cutting people off from the web.

Part of the problem has been the continued and traditional resistance from ISPs to policing those using their services arguing that it is not their responsibility and the legal costs incurred by those chasing down the pirates.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said that one of the problems would be illegal downloading in the workplace.

"Worryingly for businesses, if the alleged illegal downloads appear to originate from the workplace - will the entire company be disconnected from the net?," he asked.

"People who illegally download material that they haven't paid for aren't going to have any qualms about using someone else's internet connection," he added.

" This not only means there are likely to be innocent victims, but it also gives the real pirates a plausible defense. These proposed laws to stop illegal file-sharing are not only unworkable, they're ridiculous."

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