Broadband companies against cutting off pirates

By Liz Stephens

Internet service providers (ISPs) have warned against Peter Mandelson’s plans to disconnect illegal firesharers.

Carphone Warehouse and BT, the two biggest ISPs in the UK, have warned that cutting off customers would be extremely unpopular and bad for business.

Lord Mandelson announced plans to temporarily disconnect the broadband of people who engage in internet ‘piracy’ after the government’s Digital Britain paper proposed to slow connections for offenders.

However, yesterday the chief executive of the Carphone Warehouse Charles Dunstone said: “What is being proposed is wrong in principle and it won’t work in practice.

“The unintended consequence of Mandelson’s plan will be to encourage more wi-fi and PC hijacking and expose more innocent people to being penalised wrongfully.”

Mr Dunstone said his company would refuse to disconnect customers for the offence unless the order came from a judge.

Meanwhile BT warned that the proposals would add £2 a month to the cost of broadband subscriptions for customers and would “result in millions of aggrieved broadband consumers” and “a poorer internet experience”.

The companies were joined by Virgin Media and Sky.

The statements by the broadband providers come as an escalation of this thorny and hotly debated issue.

Opinions in the music industry – which is currently seen as one of the main ‘victims’ of the filesharers – have been divided.

Artists such as Lily Allen recently came out in support of the Digital Britain proposals to slow internet connections for persistent offenders but stopped short of agreeing with Lord Mandelson’s proposals.