Brit business secretary promises to punish accused file-sharers' families with Internet disconnection by 2011

Lord Mandelson, Britain's business secretary, has promised to create a system of collective punishment without judicial review for people accused -- but not convicted -- of illegal file-sharing. Under Mandelson's proposal, anyone living in the same house as someone who has been accused of three acts of infringement will be denied access to the Internet (at the expense of their education, employment, and access to government, health information, distant relatives, etc) even though no judge has reviewed any evidence or wrongdoing, let alone entering a judgement.

Hilariously, Mandelson expects that this will work to reduce file-sharing. Similar measures -- removing websites without judicial oversight, mass lawsuits, even industry-wide prohibitions on whole classes of legitimate technology -- have totally failed to reduce infringement in the 14 years since the first WIPO Copyright Treaty. Indeed, these increasingly Draconian measures have merely deepened the alienation that the public feels from copyright -- to the detriment of all rightsholders.

But, for unspecified reasons, Mandelson believes that cutting whole families off from the information society on the strength of unsubstantiated accusations will cause them to embrace the copyright industries and buy their products.

"It must become clear that the days of consequence-free widespread online infringement are over," Mandelson said. "Technical measures will be a last resort and I have no expectation of mass suspensions resulting."

The legislation is expected to come into force in April next year.

The effectiveness of the warning letters to persistent illegal filesharers will be monitored for the first 12 months. If illegal filesharing has not dropped by 70% by April 2011, then cutting off people's internet connections could be introduced three months later, from the summer of that year.

Lord Mandelson sets date for blocking filesharers' internet connections (Thanks, Brady!)