Britain's Digital Economy Bill will cost ISPs £500M, knock 40K poor households offline

In the UK, Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has tabled his "Digital Economy Bill," a terrible piece of legislation that requires ISPs to police their customers on behalf of the music industry when the latter claims that its copyrights have been violated (no evidence necessary). The UK music industry blames piracy for £200 million in annual losses, and this is Mandelson's excuse for abridging human rights and fundamental justice in his witch-hunt for pirates.

But the government's own research shows that Mandelson's plans will cost the UK ISP industry £500 million to implement, and when these costs are added to each customer's bill (as they surely will be), the rise will be enough to knock an estimated 40,000 British families off the Internet.

What's more, the government's own Digital Inclusion research has shown that poor households with Internet access enjoy a substantially higher quality of life than their offline neighbours, thanks to a variety of factors, from low-cost online shopping, to savings through online utility billing, to better research tools for school-kids, job-seekers and people with health problems.

Half a billion pounds down the drain, 40,000 of Britain's most vulnerable families knocked offline, and for all that, there's no reason to believe that Mandelson's plan will do anything to reduce piracy.

Today, according to a new report, government ministers have admitted that the costs will amount to £500m ($799.2m).

ISPs say that issuing warnings will cost every customer £1.40 ($2.24) and otherwise meddling with accounts at the behest of the music industry will add £25 ($40) total to an annual subscription.

Worryingly, ministers say that this extra cost will force 40,000 UK households offline, with BT's John Petter calling the plans "collective punishment that goes against natural justice."

Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Culture Secretary, said that it is "grossly unfair" for the government to force all broadband customers to foot the bill, and noted that forcing tens of thousands offline will go against government targets of increasing Internet take-up among the most disadvantaged communities.

Piracy Surcharge Set To Force 40,000 Households Offline