Disconnection described as ?harsh and punitive? measure

ISPs slam government plans to cut off UK pirates

Three of the UK’s largest internet service providers have written a letter in protest against the government’s plans to cut off illegal file sharers’ access.

Representatives from TalkTalk, BT and Orange signed the letter, addressed to The Times, along with consumer rights groups Which?, Open Rights Group and Consumer Focus.

“We do not condone or encourage [illegal file sharing],” the document said, “but we are concerned that the Government’s latest proposals on the ‘how’ to reduce illegal filesharing are misconceived and threaten broadband consumers’ rights and the development of new attractive services.”

The letter was a response to an announcement last month by the Department for Business, Inovation and Skills (BIS) that it had ammended its Digital Britain report to include the power for ISPs to disconnect the internet of users suspected of file sharing.

The move was described as “harsh and punitive” by the ISPs and rights groups, who added that “Consumers must be presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty” and that “Disconnecting users from the internet would place serious limits on their freedom of expression”.

The letter is TalkTalk’s second public objection to the government’s proposals, after the ISP issued a strongly critical statement two weeks ago.

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