Threats to cut off internet users who illegally download copyrighted content are unlikely to reduce levels of illegal downloading, according to silicon.com's exclusive CIO Jury.
Under the recently unveiled Digital Economy Bill, people who unlawfully download copyrighted material could have their internet accounts suspended.
But the silicon.com panel of CIOs and IT directors voted 10 to two against when asked whether such measures would reduce the amount of illegal downloading, with many warning that the measures would do nothing to reduce illegal downloading and may even target the wrong people.
"There is so much of this out there it will be very difficult to police and if the ISPs take action they will start to upset their customers. The file share sites are very good at 'hiding' the content of files and so the policing of the users will be a big and expensive problem," warned Mike Roberts, IT director at the London Clinic.
And Ben Acheson, IT manager at PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery, said the move was not the answer: "The music industry continues its futile battle against almost omnipotent consumer-power and it may as well fight the tide. There are many ways to download anonymously, such as using a neighbour's wireless broadband or using a foreign proxy server. The music industry needs to acknowledge the sea-change in consumer behaviour and engage with its market rather than fighting market forces."
Andy Jackson, head of IT at Huveaux, added: "Most of those who use file sharing in this way seem to believe that either it isn't illegal or that they'll never be caught among the mass of people that do it. Publicity from cases with successful prosecutions will deter a few people but others will just find a way to download using work facilities or by piggy-backing onto someone else's unprotected service."
And Steve Clarke, systems and operations director, The TalkTalk Group said: "Whilst it may discourage the occasional downloader, new tools and new methods will quickly appear to satisfy the existing need, monitoring will be circumvented and we'll be back where we are now. Wonderful thing: Human ingenuity."
This week's CIO Jury was:
- Ben Acheson, IT manager at PADS Printing and Commercial Stationery
- Alastair Behenna, CIO, Harvey Nash
- Steve Clarke, systems and operations director, The TalkTalk Group
- Chris Ford, IT director, Nottingham City Council
- Steve Gediking, head of IT and facilities, Independent Police Complaints Commission
- Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Model Management
- Paul Haley, director of Information Technology, The University of Aberdeen
- Andy Jackson, Head of IT, Huveaux plc
- John Keeling, CIO, John Lewis
- Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
- Richard Storey, head of IT, Guys and St Thomas Hospital
- Graham Yellowley, Technology Lead Equities, LCH. Clearnet
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Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was the editor of silicon.com.