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ISPs plan to pursue illegal downloaders
If you’re downloading copyrighted materials, your Internet service provider may be coming after you.
Even though antipiracy legislation like the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are in the rear-view mirrors for the time being, BitTorrent users and other purveyors of “free” copyrighted materials shouldn’t get too comfortable.
It isn’t the government they should be worried about; it’s their Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, told publishers that ISPs including Comcast, Cablevision, Verizon, and Time Warner will start to implement policies by July 12 to discourage online piracy.
Here’s how it will likely play out: If your ISP suspects you of downloading copyrighted materials, it will begin sending you notices of your suspected violations, along with warnings of the potential consequences if the downloading continues. Such penalties could include slowing down a user’s connection speed or suspending Web use altogether.
Not surprisingly, Reddit has been all over this, posting links to stories about the ISPs’ plans, along with advice to intrepid downloaders who wish to hide their Web activity from view. Suggestions from Redditors ranged from the practical (“install and use TOR,” software that reroutes your traffic through a network of servers to conceal its location and activity) to the snarky (“cover your modem with a wet towel”).
From the sound of it, ISPs are already going on the offensive against suspected pirates. Earlier, we reported on a “super elderly” woman who received a subpoena for pirating porn. The woman’s grandson took to reddit and assured readers that his grandmother can “barely send an email without help,” let alone download illegal materials.
If ISPs are going to start implementing penalties for piracy, let’s at least hope they have their facts right.
Photo by _Max-B
David Holmes is a technology and politics reporter. His work has appeared in Fast Company, the Guardian, the Daily Beast, and Stereogum. In 2011, he wrote the acclaimed "The Fracking Song (My Water's on Fire Tonight) based on ProPublica's investigation on hydraulic fractured gas drilling.