My ISP’s Response to the Digital Economy Act

My ISP is UKFSN and there the small kind of ISP which you use to get years ago. They don’t like restricting there customers and they hate things like Phorm and other content interception. So what do they make of the DBill?

Recently the UK government pushed through new legislation aimed to address many aspect of the “digital economy”.

Much of the Act is reasonable and needed to ensure that things like the rollout of digital television and radio services can be accomplished properly. The Act also included various measures to do with the Internet that were not well considered and were certainly not properly debated by Parliament and which have attracted much comment from many different parts of society. As an ISP our position on the Act is limited to the parts that relate to the Internet and the operation of Internet Service Providers, including UKFSN.

The Act seeks to implement measures to protect the rights of copyright holders from unauthorised copying and distribution of the works on which they hold copyright. This is a worthwhile aim however the Act has failed to accomplish what is set out to do for a number of reasons. Firstly the Act is clearly written by people who simply do not understand the Internet and how it is used. This shows in a number of ways but primarily in the manner in which the Act seeks to make ISPs and other network operators responsible to prevent copyright infringement and to act as enforcers for the civil rights of others completely bypassing the courts. This is a serious abuse and is, I believe, a prima facie breach of the Human Rights Act in that it removes the protection of the courts from those accused of unlawful activity.

All ISPs and network operators are bound to operate within and to obey the law. This applies to all laws including the Digital Rights Act. This means that we are obliged to act in response to a valid copyright infringement notice or a valid requirement to block access to a site and we will comply with any such valid requirement. Note that I have emphasised valid. The Act states a number of things that will be necessary for such a report or request to be valid. The most important one of these for copyright infringement notices is that we must act in response to a valid notice from the copyright holder or their authorised agent. In order to comply with this requirement we will need anyone who sends such a report to have registered their copyright in a recognised database to which we have free access and to have registered details of any and all agents who are authorised to make such notice reports to us. Further we will need a means of assuring that any notice or report we receive is really from the registered copyright holder or agent – this means they will need to implement a recognised and reliable digital signature system which we can verify. We simply cannot comply with the Act without this.

The Act specifies that copyright holders and ISPs must share the cost of any systems needed to implement the Act. I strongly believe that, as the only beneficiaries of the Act are copyright holders, they should be the ones to bear the cost. I propose that ISPs implement a system such as I have outlined above and charge copyright holders a very smallannual fee to register each copyright and each agency. This will help to prevent the Act’s requirement on ISPs to act in response to infringement notices from becoming a means for anyone to implement a massive denial of service attack.

I have already had some discussion with other ISPs about this and these ideas are being actively pursued. As things become clearer I will make further statements.

If your ISP isn’t standing against the Digital Rights Act, you really should consider moving to another one and support them.

Author: Ianforrester

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