The surprising u-turn performed yesterday by the UK government, over plans to cut off internet for users found guilty of illegaly downloading copyrighted music and films, has sparked widespread condemnation from those directly concerned by the decision.
The Guardian and a number of other newspapers point to the fact that the plans to track the virtual bootleggers might prove to be "unworkable, unnecessary and potentially illegal" not to mention extremely expensive and counterproductive.
Larry Whitty, the Chairman of Consumer Focus said in a statement “Cutting people off the internet for allegedly infringing copyright is disproportionate. And to do so without giving consumers the right to challenge the evidence against them undermines fundamental rights to a fair trial."
Talktalk, the biggest consumer broadband provider in the UK and arguably one of the ISPs most likely to pay a heavy price for policing the net, argued via its director of strategy and regulation, that what they are concerned about is almost moving to the nuclear option at stage one (something which they say is premature) before they have tried out these less draconian measures.
Joining the Chorus, BT and Virgin Media, the two other big ISPs with several million broadband users between them, expressed their disappointment and surprise as well. John Petter, head of BT's consumer business, talked of BT's broad support for the original plans but added "these changes run the risk of penalising customers unfairly."
Virgin Media, on the other hand, calls for more moderation from the government, with a spokesperson saying that "persuasion not coercion is the key to changing consumer behaviour as a heavy-handed, punitive regime will simply alienate mainstream consumers".
Alex Buttle, who is the director at Top 10 Broadband, rightly points out that the government ought to have allowed the recommendations laid out in the Digital Britain report to be tested first. Instead, two years worth of work seems to have been thrown out of the window and discarded. Now one has to wonder whether Lord Carter's decision to leave the government is not connected in anyway.