TalkTalk slams web piracy planISP says it's not its job to police the net

05 April 2008

One of the UK’s largest internet service providers (ISPs) has said it’s not its job to police the web against music pirates.

Carphone Warehouse, which runs the TalkTalk broadband service, was responding to suggestions that ISPs could disconnect customers who illegally download music and films.

Earlier this year it was rumoured that people suspected of illegal downloads could have their internet access stopped.

Illegal downloads

The plans, which are said to be under consideration by the government, would mean web users would be subject to a ‘three strikes and you're out’ policy.

They would first receive an warning e-mail from their ISP, followed by a suspension, and then finally have their contract terminated.

But TalkTalk has dismissed the scheme as unreasonable and unworkable.

Legal fight

Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone said: ‘Our position is very clear. We are the conduit that gives users access to the internet. We do not control the internet, nor do we control what our users do on the internet.

‘I cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would voluntarily disconnect a customer's account on the basis of a third party alleging a wrongdoing.

‘We believe that a fundamental part of our role as an ISP is to protect the rights of our users to use the internet as they choose.

‘We will fight any challenge to the sanctity of this relationship with every legal option available to us.’

Digital music

The firm has written to the BPI, the trade body that represents the UK record industry, to confirm it will not voluntarily adopt the scheme.

But the BPI said that TalkTalk should play its part in cracking down on illegal use of the internet.

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said: ‘At the heart of this issue is ensuring that creators are fairly rewarded in the digital age, and we passionately believe that working in partnership with ISPs to develop first class, safe, legal, digital music services is the way forward.

‘But such a partnership can't succeed if an ISP refuses to do anything to address the problem of illegal downloading on its network.’

Mr Taylor added: ‘We believe that any socially responsible ISP should, as a core part of its business, put in place steps to help its customers avoid engaging in illegal activity, and deter those who knowingly break the law.’