ORG claims Ofcom should tear up file-sharing draft code

Angry businessman

Ofcom should tear up its draft code designed to cut down on illegal file sharing and start again, the Open Rights Group (ORG) has claimed.

The campaigning organisation said the draft, which features guidelines for how accusations of copyright infringement should be sent to internet users and internet service providers (ISPs), does not include essential requirements to outline important "standards of evidence".

Instead, the code says individuals or orgainsations gathering evidence on possible copyright infringers should follow what it calls a "quality assurance process" and a report on this should be made before being handed to Ofcom.

By not including a specification on the means of obtaining evidence or a standard of evidence, the code fails to comply with the Digital Economy Act, ORG said.

"Ofcom's proposal denies us the ability to check whether any of the evidence is trustworthy," said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

"Instead, copyright holders and internet service providers will just self-certify that everything's OK. If they get it wrong, there's no penalty," Killock added.

He called for fresh consultation on a new code that complies with the Digital Economy Act.

"The Act requires the evidential standards to be defined - but Ofcom have passed the buck. How is anyone meant to trust this code if we can't see how the evidence is gathered or checked?"

Killock also suggested people were this week wrongly sent accusations of downloading music from the Ministry of Sound as the record label decided to go legal with the battle against file sharers.

"We know things go wrong and that's why the Act requires the evidential standards to be set out," Killock said.

Ofcom's code does not comply with other parts of the Digital Economy Act as well, ORG claimed.

ORG believes that it does not include "proper thresholds for identifying serious infringers" and fails to standardise information to be given to accused subscribers about appeals.

Furthermore, the appeals process itself does not match up with the guidelines set out in the Act, the body added.

An Ofcom spokesperson told IT PRO the body believes its code does meet the requirements of the Act and it welcomes all comments through the consultation on the draft until it closes on 30 July.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.