Government considers cutting off file sharers

knotted network cable

The government has proposed tougher new laws to cut off the internet connections of file sharers.

The new tactics have been proposed by government as part of the Digital Economy Bill. If approved, the government could force internet service providers to block access to download sites, cut broadband speeds and suspend accounts of "repeat infringers," according to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

While such a move was ruled out in the government's own Digital Britain report, it appears Business Secretary Peter Mandelson is looking to toughen measures against pirates - a stance some think he's taken after meeting up with record industry executives.

The proposal moves forward existing plans for such "technical measures" against pirates, which wouldn't have come into play until 2012.

"The Government has now reached the view that, if action was deemed necessary, this might be too long to wait given the pressure put on the creative industries by piracy. The new ideas outlined today would potentially allow action to be taken earlier," the BIS said in a statement.

Stephen Timms, the minister for Digital Britain, said Ofcom needs flexibility to deal with "unlawful filesharing".

"We've been listening carefully to responses to the consultation this far, and it's become clear there are widespread concerns that the plans as they stand could delay action, impacting unfairly upon rights holders," he said in a statement.

Cost control

The government is also considering who exactly should pay for what under such plans - and may make pirates pay costs.

"We are minded to allocate costs so that essentially individual parties will have to bear the costs they incur as a result of these obligations apart from the operating costs of sending notifications, which will be split 50:50 between ISPs and rights holders," the BIS said in a statement.

"However, we recognise this does raise a number of issues and therefore would welcome views from stakeholders as to how costs should be apportioned," it added.

The consultation on the new plans has been extended to 29 September, so you have lots of time to let the government know what you think.