The UK could be set to make seven million people in its population criminals if it follows through on proposals to change the laws on illegal file-sharing.
Among the measures that might be adopted are the severing of Internet connections for those suspected of illegal file-sharing (and not that suspected), as well as fines of £50,000 (around $75,000) for those found guilty.
The person attempting to push all this through is business secretary Lord Mandelson. A spokesman for the Department of Business claims the inspiration came from the recent Digital Britain report, although Mandelson seems to have voiced them after a dinner with David Geffen the music and film executive.
Even within Lord Mandelson’s own Labour Party, the ideas have met with criticism, with former digital enhancement minister Tom Watson especially vocal:
"Challenged by the revolutionary distribution mechanism that is the internet, big publishers are seeing their power and profits diminish. Faced with the choice of accepting this and innovating or, King Canute-style, staying the tide of change, they’re choosing the latter option and looking to parliament for help with some sandbags."
"Not only do the sanctions ultimately risk criminalizing a large proportion of UK citizens, but they also attach an unbearable burden on an emerging technology that has the power to transform society, with no guarantees at the end that our artists and our culture will get any richer."
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