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Parking-fine style Internet suspension may be proposed by the British government, as a sanction for against peer-to-peer users who are alleged to have infringed  copyright.

Details have emerged of British government proposals for  an

administrative body to handle appeals by  users under threat of their Internet being cut off by "technical measures".  


The new proposals follow the agenda set out in the Digital Britain report and the P2P Consultation, whereby  the rights-holders will make allegations of copyright infringement, and ISPs will send warnings to their customers, before applying "technical measures".


The new element is that the users will get a final warning, telling them that a "technical measure" will be applied. The warning notice will give  them  opportunity to appeal before the measure is applied. The appeal will be made to a panel of adjudicators. The panel will comprise legally-trained people, but it is not envisaged that they will be judges, and it is not even clear whether it will be a formal institution or a call centre.


The "parking fine" element is that users would receive a lesser technical measure if they do not appeal, or conversely, they would risk a more severe measure - possibly a longer period of being cut off the Internet - if they do appeal and lose.


"Technical measures" is the British government's euphemistic term for the use of network technology to cut off, block or slow traffic. They include protcol blocking, URL blocking, "traffic shaping", throttling, and suspension of the users account. In other words, "technical measures" mean ‘cutting people off the Internet'  either directly by suspending access, or indirectly, by blocking them from doing specified activities. They would be applied to users individually.


"Technical measures"  require equipment such as  traffic management systems and deep packet inspection. Indeed,  the deep packet inspection systems are necessary in order to apply technical measures to specific individual users. They work in conjunction with software called ‘policy management' which enables the ISPs to manage exactly what each individual user's account can do.


The proposals are not strictly speaking the same as a Hadopi, because the new adjudication panel  will be an appeals body,  whereas the French Hadopi will impose sanctions. However, it arguably is a Hadopi in the sense that it is about administrative justice, applied on the basis of an allegation by  private, commercial organisations, and it deprives the user of the right to an oral hearing, before the sanction is applied.


There is also of course the question of whether an adjudication panel, staffed by ‘legally trained' people  is a ‘legally competent tribunal'. It is not clear whether industry or government would run the panel.  


It's  understood that the new  proposals were drawn up by the  British music industry at the request of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The request was apparently made because Amendment 138 in the EU Telecoms Package is a problem.


It is another indication of the British government's failure to understand Amendment 138, namely that the European Parliament  opposes cutting people of the Internet as a sanction for copyright enforcement. It should not matter what form the cut-off takes.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009) UK latest: it's not a Hadopi, not as we know it  , 6 October  2009. 




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Copyright Enforcement Enigma launch, March 2012

In 2012, I presented my PhD research in the European Parliament.

Don't miss Iptegrity!  RSS/ Bookmark is the website of Dr Monica Horten. She is a policy analyst specialising in Internet governance & European policy, including platform accountability. She is a published author & Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics & Political Science. She served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee on  Internet Freedom. She has worked on CoE, EU and UNDP funded projects in eastern Europe and the Caucasus. In a voluntary capacity, she has led UK citizen delegations to the European Parliament. She was shortlisted for The Guardian Open Internet Poll 2012.

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