So the government have been drafting out proposals that, at least at the moment would force Internet Service Providers to side with the big content companies, and would place sanctions on ISPs that fail to tackle piracy.
I don't know who they've got putting these plans into place, but they're technically unworkable.
How do you determine a packet being sent over a network contains illegal content or not? Short answer, you can't.
The only thing ISPs could afford to do would be to block ports commonly used by applications such as BitTorrent clients, which will do absolutely nothing to prevent piracy and just create an added hassle for people who legitimately use such ports for data transfer. BitTorrent clients can quite easily be told to use different ports, if such measures became commonplace they'd all simply pick a random port.
The next thing you could do from a technical standpoint would be attempt to analyse the packets of information going over your network, however there is no way at this level to reasonably determine if the packet contains part of a Word document or an MP3 file, let alone if the file is actually being shared illegally.
The only way for ISPs to realistically be able to analyse packets and work out if they were illegal or not, would be to match their users' computer base, and copy everything their users are downloading and then check against a blacklist of illegal files, for examples file names containing song titles, or against MD5 hashes. Even this however would not be reliable.
The biggest problem with this (other than it being illegal under the Computer Misuse Act, and no doubt under dozens of privacy laws) is cost. It would be hugely expensive you'd have to reproduce everything your users are doing online, that means huge networks of computers equal in power to the number of computers your users currently have online.
Then comes the next problem, that won't work. Why? The data will simply be encrypted, the internet would completely go underground, ISPs will end up having a huge pile of scrambled zeros and ones.
In the process what will of happened? They would of also lost the ability to track down more important things like people downloading child-porn, terrorists sharing who knows what data. The pirates would continue to happily download things, knowing now they're more anonymous than ever before.
Not only that, as I previously talked about, people's home networks aren't secure, somebody could login to three of those networks as easily as I login to my own and download whatever they like, once its done there is no evidence of their involvement, trying to drive piracy underground will simply hurt legitimate internet users.
The people putting forward these proposals are living on fantasy island, do they even know what an internet is, let alone how it works. They're just caving to the demands of the music and film industries, its the same old nonsense they pulled with the release of the cassette tape and VHS. You didn't go out of business from that, you won't from losing a few percent of sales from piracy either, you'll just have to adapt without infringing on people's rights like you did before.
Instead of siding with them, the government should be siding with the end-users. There's virtually no limits to how far these companies will go, we have Sony bundling rootkits on their retail-brought CDs, destroying people's computers, losing who knows how much data. Honestly these people are in no position to make any demands, not how they've behaved.
Frankly we need a socialist solution, heck even something similar to the USSR would solve this whole issue. Tetris was copied to practically every computer in Moscow in a matter of weeks and that wasn't illegal, why? Because Tetris was the property of the people, to be shared among everyone.
Speaking long term, content creators need to be able to create music (for example) and be supported by the society for doing it - in return the society owns their work. We lose record companies suing 13 year old girls for sharing a few songs with their friends and we lose the extreme in-equality of a handful of people making hundreds of millions, and tens of thousands of musicians desperately trying to put food on the table. Personally I think that's win-win for the vast majority of the population.
Seems far fetched? Even something like the BBC works almost in this sort of principle, everybody pays a TV licence and in return they get to view whatever the BBC create. Ideally of course the licence fee would be paid from general taxation, so we have one less bill people need to worry about, and unlike the BBC, no works would be copyrighted, they'd be under a form of public licence, after all the public paid for it.
We can do great things if we put our minds to it, these so called proposals however aren't great things, they're a joke, and an impossible joke at that.