UK ISP Karoo Bans Suspected Illegal File Sharers

Karoo, an internet service provider based in Hull and owned by telecommunications firm Kingston Communications, became the first mainstream ISP in the land to ban suspected illegal file sharers from its network.

(Update : The BBC has learnt that Kazoo has changed its controversial policy of suspending users suspected of sharing files illegally)

Speaking to the BBC, Nick Thompson, director of consumer and publishing services at Kingston Communications said that "There are no benefits for us. In fact, when we cut off customers we're actually reacting against our own interests because we don't charge customers for that period when the service is suspended."

Karoo will be acting on behalf of copyright owners who come forward with proof that Karoo's customers are sharing their content. If the claim is genuine and verifiable, Karoo suspends the user's account, very often without prior warning.

The BBC says that some customers have had their accounts suspended for more than two years, which Karoo claims, is the "responsible approach" to prevent their customers from indulging in illegal activities.

Customers who have been disconnected by the ISP are apparently sent a formal notification followed by a document that they must sign saying that they are guilty and that they won't illegally download content again. Ultimately, if they breach their pledges, they are permanently banned.

The fact that Karoo is the only ISP operating in Hull and its surroundings might explain why its customers couldn't simply switch to another provider; in effect, Karoo is run as a local monopoly.

Karoo users are charged £29.35 a month for a 24mbps line with 75GB usage allowance and unlimited downloads between midnight and 8am. Extra GB are charged 98p. That's over and above the line rental.

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Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said "It's totally unfair to disconnect people without giving them any warning at all. In fact, disconnection is something that should only even possibly be considered as a result of court action".

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