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7 Million Illegal UK Broadband File Sharers Claim Found Misleading

Posted: 05th Sep, 2009 By: MarkJ
The BBC Radio 4 show More or Less has revealed serious inaccuracies in the UK governments claim that 7m Brits have been involved in illegal online file sharing (P2P) activity. The show traced the research back through several government and analyst organisations until it found the real source - a privately commissioned Jupiter Research study by Mark Mulligan for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a music trade body.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that the government shouldn't be taking their "official statistics" from such obviously partisan sources. The BBC show continued on to note that the statistics themselves are also based on a few highly questionable assumptions.

Quote from PCPRo's Article:

The 7m figure had actually been rounded up from an actual figure of 6.7m. That 6.7m was gleaned from a 2008 survey of 1,176 net-connected households, 11.6% of which admitted to having used file-sharing software - in other words, only 136 people.

It gets worse. That 11.6% of respondents who admitted to file sharing was adjusted upwards to 16.3% "to reflect the assumption that fewer people admit to file sharing than actually do it." The report's author told the BBC that the adjustment "wasn't just pulled out of thin air" but based on unspecified evidence.

The 6.7m figure was then calculated based on the estimated number of people with internet access in the UK. However, Jupiter research was working on the assumption that there were 40m people online in the UK in 2008, whereas the Government's own Office of National Statistics claimed there were only 33.9m people online during that year.

The reality is that if the research had used the correct source statistics and not artificially inflated the file sharing totals then the actual figure would be closer to 3.9m and not 7m! In addition we would be inclined to say that most of the abuse comes from those with broadband connections, which stood at around 16m+ in 2008.
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