A British proposal to cut Internet access to alleged copyright infringers is under criticism from civil rights and other groups. This week Britain’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills announced a proposal for legislation that would force Internet Service Providers to slow or suspend the accounts of customers suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted music or videos.
The Internet Services Providers’ Association in Britain called the proposal too heavy-handed in proportion to the alleged violation. Today the Computer & Communications Industry Association added its concerns about turning ISPs into copyright police.
The following statement can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“The concept of ISPs as copyright police issuing a punishment without a conviction sounds like the plot of a new suspense thriller – not a policy that should actually be considered by countries with a history of democracy like Great Britain or the United States.
“Regardless of whether the technological tools that would make it possible for ISPs to become copyright police are effective, they are the same tools that would allow China, Burma or other governments to censor and spy on their citizens.
“We understand why the RIAA may want to attempt such arrangements with ISPs after the backlash that resulted from going after students and others in court and winning six and seven-figure fines. But we would encourage the British Parliament and our own Congress to look further down the pathways this creates — not just in cyberspace — but in a democracy. They should weigh the cost of this heavy-handed enforcement and adopt policies that are more consistent with our history of civil rights and liberties.”