Site blocking under Digital Economy Act might do more harm than good

Site Block

You might be familiar with the concept of social sins. Or if you aren’t, then you might have already experienced some of the effects of some social sins, whether or not you’re aware of what’s happening or not. A social sin is one wherein a whole group of people or a community will suffer the consequences because of the actions of a few individuals who belong to the group. To those who did wrong, the punishment is much deserved. However, those who took no part in the offending act will find it unfair and unreasonable, and will often find reason to complain.

Such is the case with the Digital Economy Act. Not all users are downloading copyrighted files or sharing media illegally; however, because of the group of users who actually are, measures are being enforced that might potentially affect the whole lot of users.

It was recently reported that the Digital Economy Act will be requiring Internet Service Providers to block access to file sharing sites. More than that, Ofcom is also gearing up to implement its “three strikes” policy come 2013, where notifications will be sent off to possible file sharers or violators warning them of their actions.

Reception of the Digital Economy Act and its provisions have been mixed. Obviously, media companies welcome the law, while several ISPs aren’t very fond of it. In fact, BT Broadband and TalkTalk have gone to court to challenge the act, and have been very vocal about what they think about the act at the Westminster eForum held on October 20th. One of the most controversial provisions of the act was the one on site blocking, and this was discussed extensively at the eFocum.

BT Broadband’s Internet Policy overseer, Mita Mitra, stated: “Communications systems are inherently designed to deliver communication. It’s a big thing, technically, philosophically, for us to stop people accessing sites… it’s quite a significant engineering and technical issue to focus your efforts on effective blocking.”

Mitra also raised the fact that different strategies must be employed when it comes to dealing with casual file sharers versus hardcore infringers, stating: “There’s a difference between building stops in a system for those who are deliberate compared to those who didn’t realise that they were going to do it.” Mitra added that site blocking could require ISPs to invest time and money into setting up the filters and technology required for it, which might result in increased fees as well for all of the ISP’s subscribers, even those who aren’t infringers.

Source – The Register