British regulator Ofcom may be robbed of some of its powers as the government gets militant on illegal downloading.
In a surprise move, the UK government is expected to announce new laws today which will allow the immediate shutdown of internet connections should piracy be detected.
Under the original Digital Britain blueprint released in June, Ofcom was working towards requiring ISPs to bring in anti-piracy “technical measures” if the letters of demand failed to reduce illegal file-sharing by 70%.
However the government has changed its stance, with newspaper reports claiming that the tougher approach came after business secretary Lord Mandelson holidayed with Hollywood mogul David Geffen earlier this month in Corfu.
Ministers are expected to announce that in addition to receiving written warnings, individuals who carry on swapping files illegally could see their internet connection temporarily cut.
They are also considering that the "technical measures" such as speed throttling that Ocfom was due to police may be put directly in the hands of the government rather than the watchdog for more immediate action.
Mandelson’s Department for Business Innovation & Skills put out a statement this morning saying “we cannot know how P2P technology might develop in the short to medium term and we want to ensure Ofcom has a full tool kit from which to select the most appropriate measure should technical measures be deemed necessary.”
The London Standard reports that the minister for Digital Britain, Stephen Timms, said this morning, “it's become clear there are widespread concerns that the plans as they stand could delay action, impacting unfairly upon rights holders.”