Ofcom has been tasked by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to establish whether blocking websites accused of filesharing, as proposed in the Digital Economy Act, would be feasible.
The measures, which will see websites blocked from UK users’ access if they are deemed to be ‘illegal’, were criticised heavily when they were rushed through during the dying throes of the Labour government last April. Campaigners claimed that the reforms would open the door to wider censorship of the internet.
But Hunt said that the Digital Economy Act seeks to “protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement”, by providing “the right tools to protect the products of hard work and investment”.
But the call for an Ofcom review suggested he had concerns. Peter Bradwell, a campaigner for Open Rights Group told the Guardian: “It’s encouraging to see the government listening to people’s genuine concerns about the Digital Economy Act. The web-blocking provisions are a real mistake – they would stifle freedom of expression, for unproven benefit, whilst being extremely costly and difficult to manage.”
Ofcom is likely to report back in the spring, once it has determined whether internet service providers would be able to block access to sites and how foolproof that would be.
Photo taken by Flickr user balleyne, licensed under creative commons.