Downing Street has rejected a petition calling for the government to abandon its plans to deny internet access to illegal peer-to-peer file sharers.
The 'three strikes' plan forms part of the Digital Economy Bill published on 20 November, which proposes legislation to tackle online copyright infringement.
The legislation stipulates that ISPs must send warning letters to customers whose accounts have been used to share illegally downloaded content.
If the warnings fail to act as a sufficient deterrent, and illegal file sharing is not cut by 70 per cent, the government plans to restrict the account user's internet access using "technical measures".
The petition attacked the government's plans to "force" ISPs to monitor internet use in order to ensure that no copyrighted material is transferred.
"This flagrant disregard for privacy is comparable to forcing the Post Office to search through parcels for photocopied documents or mix-tape cassettes. Such requirements would place enormous strain on ISPs, while failing to prevent the distribution of copyrighted material through hidden HTTP or FTP addresses," the petition said.
However, the government has now attempted to further clarify its position in response to the petition, and to answer criticism from privacy groups and the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
It argued in its response to the petition that the rights holders of the content will be burdened with the job of identifying alleged copyright infringement, not the ISPs. It has also said that the process will involve identifying the IP addresses of uploaders and will not look at what individuals download.
The government also promised not to terminate the accounts of infringers. " It is very hard to see how this could be deemed proportionate except in the most extreme, and therefore probably criminal, cases," it said.
"We added account suspension to the list of possible technical measures which might be considered if our measures to tackle unlawful file sharing through notifications and legal action are not as successful as we hope.
"This is one of a number of possible options on which we would seek advice from Ofcom and others if we decided to consider a third obligation on technical measures.
"However, what is clear is that we would need a rapid and robust route of appeal available to all consumers if we decided that technical measures were needed.
"Technical measures might be a bandwidth restriction, a daily downloading limit or, as a last resort, temporary account suspension."
The Open Rights Group, which campaigns for consumers' digital rights, dismissed the response as "spin", arguing that families could be denied access to the internet if their connection is hijacked by illegal file sharers.
"The government has chosen the term 'temporary account suspension' because it sounds boring and reasonable. But it's just spin," said Jim Killock, Open Rights Group executive director.
"What journalist would report a story about 'temporary account suspension'? The fact is that families will not be able to connect to the internet. That sounds like disconnection to us."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago