Tuesday 18 August 2009

Mandelson holiday furore

There has been a succession of articles about Peter Mandelson’s Corfu holiday and its impact on the UK’s proposed law to penalize illegal P2P file-sharing. It has been suggested that Mandelson is now demanding tougher legislation following a dinner with Hollywood producer David Geffen at the Rothschild villa (where last year Mandy's holiday conversations with George Osborne led to trouble). Some pieces are at best confusing and at worst wildly inaccurate. The Torygraph today says the consultation has come hot on the heels of his holiday – but the consultation was published on 16 June! Nor does the consultation document ‘include fines of up to £50,000 for persistent offenders, and the possibility of cutting off or restricting their Internet service’.

The ‘technical measures’ that the Government may introduce include ‘IP blocking’ and ‘port blocking’, unhelpfully ambiguous terms. I quizzed BIS about their meaning:

Q: ‘Do these mean that an alleged infringer would be blocked from accessing IP addresses or ports other than his own or could it mean that the alleged infringer is blocked from accessing his own IP address or port? If it could mean blocking the alleged infringer’s access to his own IP address or port, how does this practically differ from terminating their broadband account?’

A: ‘The former for IP blocking. Port blocking might be used to block access to those port most commonly used in P2P applications, however this is probably one of the less effective measures and is only included for completeness (technology may well change and a new form of port blocking become more effective)’

Still, can it be that the Corfu smoke is without fire? Has Mandy taken up a position that is inconsistent with the June consultation document? The Times reported: ‘A Whitehall source said: “Until the past week Mandelson had shown little personal interest in the Digital Britain agenda. Suddenly Peter returned from holiday and effectively issued this edict that the regulation needs to be tougher.”’

Digital Britain tweets say it’s all rubbish:

Perhaps we should wait and see what happens in the debate on the Digital Economy Bill and leave the spin to those who do it best.


Anonymous said...

This report below by Public Knowledge address most important questions concerning filtering: One question is: who pays for the technology? Another: does it works?

I belive the UK’s Digital Britain report in January, is inherently flawed.


Anonymous said...

So far as I know the Government has excluded filtering from its legislative proposals. It appears to have been kicked out in the BERR consultation and doesn't feature in the 16 June consultation. The task of identifying potential copyright infringement is left entirely to rightsholders, not ISPs.