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The Problem With ISPs


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Advocates of a totally free Internet are missing a key point and have to ask themselves a serious question. Does a free Internet equate to anarchy online? In turn does this mean our privacy laws should be misused to protect criminals? TMV would argue a big NO. If anything, once a citizen commits a criminal act online or offline, they should lose all rights to privacy in terms of hiding their identity from the authorities and the citizen or business they commit a criminal act against.

Do not get me wrong; TMV would normally be strong advocates of civil liberties. However, TMV recently experienced an unprovoked attack on the website whereby all of the sites database files (i.e., the files necessary to have a site live on the web) were deleted, not only on the main host server but also the mirrored server out in Asia. Luckily the person who made this criminal attack left a digital footprint in the form of an IP address. If you are not aware an IP address provides a direct link back to the perpetrator of the digital crime.

Obviously, this is a key issue for the UK based music industry in terms of their fight against the scourge of illegal downloading, currently being played out in the UK with Lily Allen, UK Music and other bodies in the “three strikes” and your disconnected debate. TMV would like to think this particular debate is not just about responsibility but also about the requirement for government legislation. Even then, will legislation change ISPs view that they can just negate responsibility?

There remain many barriers to bringing criminals committing digital crimes to justice, little own illegal file sharers. The first, being that the ISP has to be willing to provide the contact details of which they have access to from the IP address. All ISPs bring up and hide behind the “privacy” defense. TMV asks, how can it be legal for an ISP to state yes, we have the details of that person who left a digital footprint when they committed there digital crime, and yes they subscribe to our broadband service, however we cannot legally provide you or the police there details without a court order?

Why is it not the ISPs problem? They are the only one who can actually pinpoint the criminal (or at least their computer). So, with the defense commonly used by ISPs as outlined above they are in actual fact stating they have no moral or ethical duty to society in general. Even when ISPs are the only people able to track down criminals who commit crimes over their networks, they deny responsibility in ensuring the citizen is able to seek justice. To TMV this is akin to witnessing a serious crime and not reporting it. A crime in itself!!!

In effect, this is essentially saying ISPs provide a service to which consumers subscribe, if they commit a crime whilst using the ISPs service they are above the law! TMV asks surely this is not a viable outcome in the eyes of government, the judiciary or society in general? In TMV’s view, ISPs are in effect aiding and abetting digital crimes all the time.

As a society we as individuals and businesses are generally expected to all be accountable to the law. So, what misconceived argument of subscriber “privacy” is allowing:

a) Criminals to get away with committing criminal acts; and
b) ISPs that make money off their monthly broadband subscriptions are
legally allowed to turn a blind eye towards criminals using their service?

Something is seriously amiss when a criminal has more rights than the citizen or the business, they perpetrated a criminal act against.

Another key barrier is the willingness, or lack thereof, of the police in the UK to pursue these parasites using all manner of powers at their disposal to do so. TMVs recent experience illustrated an ill-resourced and totally pathetic
British based policing effort of online based hacking activity by criminals. If TMVs experience is anything to go by, better hope your web business is not UK based…

Quite simply when your business (aka the TMV site) has been maliciously hacked a criminal act has occurred. However, the fact that TMV as a business have to get a civil court order to demand the UK based ISP Be There Unlimited (owned by O2) to divulge the identity of the criminal so we can pursue them is quite simply ridiculous. Why should TMV or any other music business for that matter have to pursue a civil action when in the first instance it is quite clearly a criminal matter for the police and courts?

So, have ISPs managed to ensure what are quite clearly criminal acts manipulated into civil matters by their indefensible “privacy” stance? It certainly feels like that especially considering TMV has been the victim of a digital hacking crime. I’m very sure if someone managed to hack into Be There Unlimited’s backend ISP infrastructure and bring it down for a couple of days, they would be prosecuted by the police and O2. Where do these reprehensible ISPs stand when the issue is turned on them?

So, what is preventing the police pursuing the ISP for the revelation of the hacker from the IP address? Lack of funds and the need to prioritize what little funds they have in terms of a digital crime department according to DI (find name) from Brixton police. Why are local police departments dealing with digital crime, they obviously do not possess the digital skills, knowledge or resources required to pursue digital crime efficiently and effectively.

Is the UK government doing anything to address this sorry state of affairs? From what TMV have experienced, they are clearly not doing enough! TMV state quite clearly that it appears ISPs are above the law! In the UK anyway.





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