Campaign group Consumer Focus has published its technical report in to practicalities of online traceability, which it believes show why the controversial Digital Economy Act cannot work in its current form.
The Consumer Focus report [pdf] is based on analysis undertaken earlier this year by Richard Clayton, of the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory.
The report highlights the difficulties internet service providers face in correctly identifying IP addresses that may have been used to download copyrighted material – as well as the problem of then linking an individual to that IP address.
Commenting on the report's publication, Clayton noted that while the traceability part of the DEA could be made to work in a robust manner, it could only work effectively if ISPs put in a number of checks.
“History shows that mistakes are often made,” wrote Clayton.
“I have some first-hand experience of this, my report refers to how I helped the police track down a series of traceability mistakes that were made in a 2006 murder case.”
In the report, Clayton details his work with the Crown Prosecution Service and ISPs to identify eight IP as part of a 2009 murder investigation. Errors in the way the ISP recorded IP addresses initially meant that only four of the eight could be identified.
“It is my view that the types of errors... are widespread,” the report stated.
Last month, the government revealed plans to make consumers charged with breaching copyright through online file-sharing pay £20 upfront to appeal under the DEA.
“My report also explains the difficulties – in many cases the insuperable difficulties – that the account holder will have in determining the individual who was responsible to the P2P activity,” said Clayton.
“Sadly, there’s been no sign so far that this sort of criticism will derail the DEA juggernaut.”
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