Irish Regulators Force ISP to Drop Three Strikes Measure

The Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has taken the bold step of forcing the country's largest ISP - Eircom - to stop using the three strike measure over concerns with using an IP address to identify pirates.

Like the UK, Ireland has been using the three strikes method for a while now, one that sees those identified as illegally downloading music, movies or other media, first issued a warning, then having their internet speed cut back before being cut off altogether if they continue. However, due to the use of IP addresses to identify the pirates, concerns have been raised in the past that unsecured wireless networks could allow for people to hijack a connection and download files using another's identity.

The ODPC has been investigating Eircom for over six months now after it was discovered the ISP had erroneously sent out 'first strike' warning letters, wrongly accusing some 300 customers. Eircom tried to blame this away on "software failure caused when the clocks went back last October," but the ODPC was having none of it.

"I can confirm we have concluded our investigation on this matter and have communicated the outcome to Eircom. It has 21 days to respond. Our investigation was commenced on the foot of a complaint from an individual who alleged they had received a warning letter about access to copyrighted material in error," the ODPC said in a statement.

Despite really strict bills like Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) looking to go through in the US, the EU has actually been moving further away from measures like this. The Register reports that in November the European Court of Justice ruled that while intellectual property needed to be protected, it did not come before other rights like that of privacy and free speech.

However, in individual countries, lobbyists from the film industry along with organisations like the Motion Picture Association (MPA) have been pushing for more stringent controls of copyright. In the UK the largest ISPs in the country have been forced to block the usenet file linking site Newzbin2 despite most of the site's members claiming to be able to circumvent any blocks implemented.

The Irish government has also been looking to make amendments to copyright law to enable media corporations to lobby for blockages in the island nation. However, this latest ruling by the ODPC could put a stopper in that for now, suggesting that some at least recognise that there are more important things than protecting copyright at all costs.