Government sticks to plans to disconnect illegal file sharers

The government is sticking to its plans to disconnect illegal file sharers.

The announcement was made in the Queen’s Speech today, and is part of the new Digital Economy Bill, following on from the publication in June of Lord Carter’s Digital Britain white paper.

But the proposed £6 annual broadband tax, which will affect every household with a landline, will not come into place until the Finance Bill is published by the Treasury following next year’s budget. Some commentators today questioned the absence of any information on how the government will spur investment in broadband infrastructure.

Under the plans to tackle file sharers, the first stage will involve educating consumers and sending letters to those caught illegally downloading. If this is insufficient, the BBC reported, the power to disconnect consumers breaking the rules will come into force in 2011.

Other elements of the bill include the requirement for regulator Ofcom to reassess the UK’s digital infrastructure every two years, as well as modernising the spectrum to help the growth of mobile broadband. It also mandates the digital radio switchover by 2015.

In her speech today, the Queen said that the government “will introduce a bill to ensure the communications infrastructure is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting”.

This was part of a move to improve national infrastructure “to ensure sustained growth, to deliver a fair and prosperous economy for families and businesses”, she said.

The government said today that it wanted to secure “the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading digital knowledge economies”. More details of the bill will be published on Friday.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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