March 15, 2012 by David K. Sutton
July 1, 2012: The Day ISPs Start Spying On Customers
Correction: This story originally cited July 12, 2012 as the date ISPs start spying on customers as this was the date widely reported at the time of publishing. There are still conflicting reports but it appears the correct date is July 1, 2012. Regardless of which date is correct, if you use BitTorrent, my suggestion is to play it safe and assume they are starting July 1.
If you are in the habit of downloading copyrighted media, including software, music and videos, be warned that beginning on Sunday July 1st your ISP will start spying on your activity. The Raw Story reports, “That’s the date when the nation’s largest ISPs will all voluntarily implement a new anti-piracy plan that will engage network operators in the largest digital spying scheme in history, and see some users’ bandwidth completely cut off until they sign an agreement saying they will not download copyrighted materials.”
Of course the usual suspects are behind this plan including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA). The plan is backed by all major ISPs (Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, AT&T) and has the support of the Obama administration.
Penalties for offenders can include reduced bandwidth, access reduced to a limited number of websites, and complete internet service cut-off. ISPs can require customers to attend “an education course” if they want service restored. And of course offenders can be charged with copyright infringement by the studios.
A CNET News article quotes RIAA CEO Cary Sherman, “Each ISP has to develop their infrastructure for automating the system.” Sherman said ISPs are developing systems to keep track of repeat infringers which will allow them to send “first notice or the third notice.” CNET reports that ISPs will use a “graduated response” approach. This approach requires ISPs to “send out one or two educational notices to customers accused of downloading copyrighted content illegally. If the customer doesn’t stop, the ISP is then asked to send out ‘confirmation notices’ asking that they confirm they have received notice.” If accused customers continue to pirate material the ISP can then begin to impose the before mentioned restrictions.
Welcome to the police state folks, previously home to the ‘land of the free’.