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BT, Sky and Virgin Media could be required to snoop for piracy under draft Ofcom proposals

Your ISP could be required to monitor your web use and send out letters if you’re suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material, according to draft proposals published by Ofcom today.

ISPs with more than 400,000 subscribers would be asked to sign up the code, with BT, Everything Everywhere (Orange Home Broadband), O2, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media mooted to sign up.

BT, Sky and Virgin Media could be required to snoop for piracy under draft Ofcom proposals

The key proposals of the code will see letters sent out to subscribers suspected of infringement, with a ‘three-strikes’ policy adopted:

“If a customer receives three letters or more within a 12-month period, anonymous information may be provided on request to copyright owners showing them which infringement reports are linked to that customer’s account,” the report says.

The copyright owner(s) may then seek a court order requiring the ISP to reveal the identity of the customer, making them liable for prosecution under the Copyright Designs and Patent Act 1988.

Wrongfully sent a letter? You’ve got 20 days to appeal

Under the new proposals, you’d have 20 days to appeal a decision if you’re served a letter. So if you think that someone has accessed your network without your permission you can appeal.

ISPs would also be required to include in their letters the number of copyright infringement reports connected to their account.

Details of the appeal process are expected to emerge as Ofcom works on a “publicly-available standard to help promote good practice in evidence gathering,” for copyright holders investigating subscribers suspected of file sharing.

Until more information on the code emerges from Ofcom we really don’t have much else to go on right now.

Ofcom says that these providers account for more than 93 per cent of the retail broadband market in the UK. The remaining 7 per cent can breathe easy for now, but it may be a matter of time before all UK ISPs are required to adopt this code.

Read Ofcom’s report New measures to protect online copyright and inform consumers here.