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Mandelson seeks law change to increase his power over file sharers

Business secretary Lord Mandelson is pressing for new laws against downloading and sharing content illegally.

He has sent a letter to Harriet Harman, the leader of the house and head of the committee that is charge of such legislation, requesting changes to the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. His request comes as the government prepares to publish the Digital Economy Bill.

The Boing Boing blog reported that the changes would give the business secretary the power to create new punishments for file-sharing. It is expected that tomorrow's Digital Economy Bill will contain a "three strikes" policy, whereby internet users will be cut off after they receive three warning letters regarding file sharing.

Another alteration will create new powers to protect rights holders, such as record companies and music studios. These powers may be conferred on anyone to help reduce online infringement.

Mandelson will also get the power to demand that internet service providers help with catching online file sharers.

The letter also mentions that Mandelson is "concerned" about sites that allow internet users to share large files privately.

The move is likely to attract widespread criticism for being too draconian. Labour MP Tom Watson has already said on Twitter, "It'll break the internet. I will not support this and neither should you."


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