Illegal download ban could hit employers’ Internet access

Government plans to deny internet access to users found illegally downloading music and videos could eventually apply to employers.

A Green Paper will be published this week outlining a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule to combat illegal downloads.

First-time offenders would be warned via e-mail to stop downloading copyrighted content. A second warning could see a temporary suspension of internet services, with final action leading to a total block of online access.

A Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (DBERR) spokesman refused to rule out extending planned legislation to employers.

“We intend to issue a consultation outlining possible options, but no decisions have been made,” he said.

A voluntary deal between internet service providers and rights holders remains the preferred option to tackle piracy. But the DBERR spokesman said: “There should be no doubt that the government will legislate if necessary.”

Simon Wilson, a partner in the technology risk division of professional services firm Deloitte, said the three-strikes rule could easily apply to employers.

“If a company blatantly ignores government orders regarding downloads, then there could be a case to shut them down,” he said.

However, technology to measure internet use had become more effective, he said. “If an organisation can demonstrate a clear internet policy, it would be a harsh call to ban its usage.”

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