The Pirate Bay has seen another broadband provider pull the plug, with BE Broadband becoming the most recent ISP to block access to the controversial torrent search site.

The ISP is the sibling fixed line network operator of O2 UK (Telefonica), and they have both confirmed the implementation of a “network-wide block” that aims to prevent its customers from being able to view The Pirate Bay.

O2 and BE Broadband, along with BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) were issued a court order earlier this year, requiring them to restrict access to The Pirate Bay after complaints that it enabled and promoted content piracy.

Sceptics have noted that the ban is ridiculous, as circumnavigating the skin deep ISP restrictions is so simple. The reason for this is because ISPs cannot physically control, remove or block internet content that does not originate from their own servers.

The government has been working on a new Voluntary Code of Practice since early 2011, in which ISPs will be required to block internet sites that are deemed to “facilitate” internet piracy. The voluntary code is most likely to surface as part of the Draft Communications Bill.

The main aspect of the Draft Communications Bill will be to provide powers to the police and intelligence agencies to collect data on communication within the UK. This will include, for example, data on emails and text messages. Small business owners such as Gradwell customers might be affected by these changes.

Many businesses will be concerned that sensitive information shared by email could be held, and provided to the police on request.  It’s important to be aware that the Bill does not propose allowing instant and automatic access to the information, only with a warrant. The responsibility for retaining and providing this information would rest with mobile and internet firms.

ISPs such as Gradwell are required to keep records of senders and recipients of messages, but not the content of them. Peter Gradwell explains “We’re not expecting to handle many (if any) requests for information, but if a request is made I want to ensure staff can handle it quickly and effectively and then return to the day job.”

Further information about the effects of the Draft Communications Bill on Gradwell will be available in the August issue of Talk Business Magazine



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