UK ISPs to unblock access to certain sites under government plans

Internet users in the UK could be set for some good news with an unexpected u-turn by the government likely to overturn part of an Act that forces UK ISPs to block access to certain sites.

The Draft Deregulation Bill is putting forward a plan that would see two sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 removed after advice from Ofcom advised they are ineffective, reports ISPreview.

The bill states that section 17 and 18, under which court orders are given to ISPs, should be removed “on the basis of a study carried out by Ofcom which concluded that the specific blocking injunctions in the Act were unlikely to be effective in practice”.

Labour drafted the Digital Economy Act 2010 with the original intention of tackling copyright infringement on peer-to-peer file sharing networks and was planning to impose “technical measures” on ISPs, such as service disconnection. Under the system customers that are found guilty of copyright infringement will be sent warning letters, but so far they have bothered no mailboxes and the first ones won't be mailed until 2015.

The Draft Deregulation Bill was published last month and it will be officially introduced to Parliament in May 2014 and then go through the full Parliamentary process before it can become a bill.

UK rights holders can still, however, use Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act [1988] to block access to sites and it’s something they’ve successful done in the past with the likes of The Pirate Bay and other similar sites.

Six of the UK’s largest ISPs were forced to block access to The Pirate Bay and a ship full of other European countries have followed suit including Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark and Belgium.

In Ireland, music industry rights holders, such as EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Music, stated that they have lost approximately €20 million [£17 million] per year as a result of up to 200,000 people in the country downloading music using the site.

Image Credit: Flickr (Michael D Beckwith)