A number of influential tech industry players have signed an open letter to the Financial Times opposing government plans to tighten up internet regulation, particularly the moves to cut off illegal file sharers without a fair trial.
The signatories warn that the proposed amendment to the Digital Economy Bill could limit the right to free speech, and harm the UK's reputation as a place to do business.
The letter has been signed by BT chief executive Ian Livingstone, TalkTalk chairman Charles Dunstone and Google UK managing director Matt Brittin, among others.
"This amendment not only significantly changes the injunctions procedure in the UK, but will lead to an increase in internet service providers blocking web sites accused of illegally hosting copyrighted material without cases even reaching a judge," the letter reads.
"The amendment [could] have unintended consequences which far outweigh any benefits it could bring."
The letter warns the government against adopting the new amendment, explaining that a policy that encourages the blocking of web sites is "a very serious step for the UK to take", and that many issues must be considered before this is selected as a "proportionate and necessary public policy option".
The letter stops short of comparing the UK to other countries where internet censorship and government interference is common, but warns of a threat to freedom of speech and an open internet.
"Put simply, blocking access as envisaged by this clause would widely disrupt the internet in the UK and elsewhere, threatening freedom of speech and the open internet without reducing copyright infringement as intended," it said.
"To rush through such a controversial proposal at the tail end of a parliament without any kind of consultation with consumers or industry is very poor law making."
Livingstone said in an interview with the BBC that fining illegal file sharers would be a better way of dealing with the problem.
"If someone is accused, a fine can be issued a bit like a speeding offence," he said. "They can appeal it. If they don't appeal it then they pay a fine."
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