A UK law firm claims the government forced Ofcom to remove a general right to appeal from its proposed three strikes copyright protection measures. If true, it is another hammer blow to the government, coming just weeks after it touted shutting down social networks.
An unconfirmed report on OutLaw.com – the news site of legal firm Pinsent Masons - states Ofcom originally included the right to appeal in plans to send warning letters to Web users accused of illegal file sharing and downloads. The provision was designed to save the regulator from re-writing the laws in the event that technology or the way the public uses the Web evolve.
The right to appeal wasn’t dropped entirely in the final version of the rules, adopted in August, but consumers must now pay £20 (€22.72) to appeal in an apparent bid to prevent the process collapsing under a wave of challenges. There is a separate question here regarding just how many letters the government expects to be sent out. In short, are we a nation of illegal file sharers?
Regardless, if the report is accurate it is another example of the government trying to meddle with free and open access to the Internet – something most consumers believe is now a basic human right.
In mid-August, the government proposed shutting down either the Internet itself or access to social media sites in the wake of riots early-August. It quickly backed away from the idea on the basis it was unworkable, but it’s hard not to believe the parallels with similar web shut downs by authoritarian regimes were the real deciding factor.
Instead, home secretary Theresa May met with leading social network operators and police chiefs to discuss what action could be taken to prevent the sites being used to organize civil unrest in the future, the Independent reports.