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We reported last week on plans to enforce copyright law by forcing internet service providers to spy on consumers to detect and report every piece of copied music, movies, e-books, games and software.
Now one UK ISP, Virgin Media, is trialling some of the technology needed to do that on about 1.6 million of its customers.
It will do so by copying every packet of data that passes by, and looking for the digital signatures of data transferred using the popular bittorrent, gnutella, and edonkey file sharing protocols.
"Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations (PECR) and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) as well as the European ePrivacy Directive, that interception and processing of communications requires either explicit informed consent from all parties or a warrant.
It should be noted that there is no exemption in the regulations for the purpose of detecting illicit copyright infringement – and indeed in such cases where interception is being used for law enforcement, a warrant is required.
Virgin Media’s plans assume that all consumers are guilty of copyright infringement until their communications data proves otherwise – whereas the onus should be on the injured parties to provide their own evidence that an infringement has occurred.