A controversial French bill which could disconnect people caught downloading content illegally three times has been passed by the National Assembly. The legislation, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, was surprisingly voted down by the Assembly last month. The bill sets a tough global precedent in cracking down on internet piracy, and is being closely watched by other governments as a potential deterrent.
The global music industry has been calling for tougher anti-piracy laws. The Creation and Internet bill was passed by a vote of 296 to 233 by the lower house and will go before the Senate for final approval on Wednesday.
The new legislation operates under a "three strikes" system. A new state agency would first send illegal file-sharers a warning e-mail, then a letter, and finally cut off their connection for a year if they were caught a third time. It has been backed by both the film and record industries.
But some consumer groups have warned that the wrong people might be punished, should hackers hijack their computers' identity, and that the scheme amounted to state surveillance.
The socialist parliamentarian Patrick Bloche said the bill was "dangerous, useless, inefficient, and very risky for us citizens".
John Kennedy, chairman of the IFPI, which represents the global music industry, has described the bill as "an effective and proportionate way of tackling online copyright infringement and migrating users to the wide variety of legal music services in France".
It will be interesting to follow this for several reasons. As has been stated, the entertainment industry has been notorious for accusing the wrong people in the past. Secondly, it's going to cost a lot of money in administration to do. And finally, if it's a great success ISPs stand to loose a fair amount of users and income. Watch this space as they say, it might get interesting.