DBill provisions for ISPs, a series of loopholes

I’ve said very little about the Dbill (Digital Ecomony Act), I’ve actually got a massive post saved up venting why the bill is a joke and how the UK just went back to the stone ages. But I also find it interesting how theres lots of loopholes to be found in the bill, even from a ISP point of view. Actually thats one of the most annoying parts of the bill, the fact that all UK ISPs have to follow these stupid rules even if there doing fine with what they already have.

Here’s some of the concerns

That we have to pass on copyright notices to subscribers and may have to suspend or restrict access to subscribers. This is actually relatively easy for us to do, but has implications for us and the subscribers. For a start, if we do not do things that help our customers then we will lose them. OFCOM have made it easy and cheap for people to change ISP. If they change ISP all of the history of notices disappears and the copyright owner has to start again.

That we could have an order to block locations on the internet. Now, we would hope that as such an order can apply to transit providers or BT wholesale, etc, that anyone making such an order would not go to the bother of making an order against every small ISP. So such an order would not affect us, hopefully. If it did there are allowances for paying our costs. If BT wholesale did DPI based blocking we can work on ways around that by simple obfuscation at the PPP level. If transit provides block a location we can set up tunnels to links outside the UK. We can find ways around blocks if we have to, and so can our customers.

And here’s some of the loopholes,

OK, several ideas come to mind…

  • In the event of a copyright notice, making our customer not a subscriber by allowing them quickly and easily to change who the subscriber is but continue service unchanged.
  • In the event of a copyright notice, making our customer not a subscriber by making them a communications provider. We’re prepared to peer with our customer buying access to our customers IP blocks via their ADSL line for 1p/month. This makes them a communications provide and so not a subscriber. But as their customer is us, a communications provider so not a subscriber, they do not become a service provider and so not themselves subject to most of the regulations.
  • In the event of a copyright notice, making our customer not a subscriber giving them a choice of IP addresses (change of IP). However, by offering a choice and allowing them to pick an IP they have not been allocated an IP address by us. That means their service is not an internet service and so they are not a subscriber.
  • Recording where our customer is a communications provider – which applies if they provide communications to anyone. I suspect many businesses and even homes could buy our service as a communications provider.
  • Operating more than one retail arm selling to customers and allowing customers to migrate freely with no change to service between those retail arms, thus bypassing copyright notice counting and any blocking orders.
  • Making us not a service provider by making all customers not subscribers using either the communications provider or not allocated IPs as above. Hence making us not subject to most of the Act.
  • Not co-operating with copyright holders – if they send a notice which we consider invalid, just delete it.

I know my ISP USFSN will certainly be looking at this list, most of the subscribers to there service pay well over the odds for non-logged non-bothersome unlimited Internet access.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.