The Copyright Alerts System (CAS) admits that it looks a little shady right now. The about-to-be-implemented system will force Americans suspected of downloading content illegally to complete an “educational” course to get online. To say that it has not been popular with Internet activists and users alike is an understatement.
The system will affect customers of AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision, Time Warner, and Verizon.
While the service itself was bound to be controversial, the heat turned up on the CAS recently. Its supposedly “independent” consultant, as Torrentfreak discovered, had actually spent years and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees as a professional lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). That group helped draft the CAS and is notorious for the extreme lengths it will go to on behalf of copyright enforcement. The association has seriously strained the CAS’s credibility.
But Jill Lesser, executive director of the CAS, announced via a blog post Tuesday evening that she’s “sensitive to any appearance” that the consultant “lacks independence.” To account for this, she says, she’s both commissioning a second independent review and is going to publish the one compiled by the not-so-independent consultant, Stroz Friedberg.
A glaring hole in this announcement is whether this will delay the CAS’s implementation. It was expected to start this past summer, but Lesser clarified that was a guideline, and that the real date was late 2012. On Oct. 16, she told the Daily Dot that it was still on track to arrive in November and December. However, a second independent review would either delay the system or take place after the CAS is operational and “educating” users. Lesser didn’t address any change in timing in her blog post, and neither she nor her assistant responded to requests for clarification in time for this story.
UPDATE: Jill Lesser clarifies that the CAS is still likely to roll out on schedule. “The follow-up review will not delay the implementation. The Stroz report is comprehensive and we are confident that an additional review will not require modifications to the methodology,” she wrote in an email to the Daily Dot.
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