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Lord Carter to Detail Illegal ISP File Sharing Rights Agency
By: MarkJ - 11 March, 2009 (9:33 AM)

Lord Carter, author of the governmentís recent and much criticised Digital Britain report, will this week outline further details about the new Rights Agency for tackling illegal broadband file sharing (P2P). The agency was first revealed during late January (here), though at the time its precise role was not clear.

"If people come back and torch it, which some people undoubtedly will, then what that will tell us is that there is not enough commonality in this industry to maker a co-regulatory structure work," Carter told The Guardian. "If people do torch it then you have to do one of two things: you either make the legislation tougher or you have got to say let the market sort it out."

"What we are proposing is that the ISPs would only be required to hand over information on the basis of evidence provided by the rights holders and there would only be a requirement to hand over personal data when it is the subject of a court order."

One key area the proposals must tackle is how to validate whether or not the rights holders data is accurate. The logical solution would be to ask ISPs to investigate the customersí activity and see whether that information matches. IP's can easily be faked, spoofed or redirected and thus you can't rely on the submitted data being correct.

The problem with this is that ISPs are not a police force and may risk breaking privacy laws by directly snooping on their customers. It's a bit like asking the Royal Mail to open a personís personal letters without being sure they're guilty of anything.

There are also technical issues, such as the use of encryption, which can make it almost impossible to see what somebody has been doing online. Failure to properly validate this information has resulted in the wrong people being accused of crimes they never committed.

Elsewhere the Business Software Alliance (BSA) have added to the debate by complaining that Carter's plans focus on music and films, while somewhat ignoring the plight of games and software developers, whom are equally affected.

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