Since 2011, Internet users have been being warned about an impending plan on the part of ISPs and the entertainment industry to monitor Internet traffic. That plan is now a reality. The six-strikes system will involve intelligence about users being gathered by well-known entertainment industry groups the RIAA and MPAA and that information being sent along to ISPs, who will take the six-strikes actions. Those strikes involve receiving warnings from your ISP until you reach the sixth warning, at which point the penalty part of the program kicks into effect.
What Is the Goal?
An article in the WSJ about the new policy notes that this program is aimed at casual users, not very prolific Internet pirates. The penalties range in severity up to turning off the Internet user’s access, or slowing it down, but the actual implementation of this policy against an ISP’s own customers varies according to the ISP in question.
The WSJ article details that Time Warner cable will lock the user’s browsers until they call the company and agree to desist doing whatever got them the warning. Comcast will make users watch an informative video. Verizon plans to choke the bandwidth of repeat offenders when they reach their sixth warning.
The system is called the Copyright Alert System. The current participants are Comcast, Verizon Communications, Cablevision Systems, Time Warner Cable and AT&T, according to the article.
What it Means
In short, it means that users are being watched by the RIAA and MPAA and that their ISPs will take action on behalf of the entertainment industry if asked. This program, however, has some issues that remain to be addressed.
For instance, according to an expert quoted in an article on Ars Technica, there is no provision for fair use under this policy. That means that people who are downloading legally might end up getting themselves into trouble with their ISP. If they want to appeal, however, they can; for a fee of $35.
Most privacy advocates do not have an issue with copyright infringement being stopped, but do have an issue with being spied upon under the assumption that the entertainment industry has a right to monitor their traffic. In an Ars Technica article, an ISP spokesperson acknowledged what many users around the world already know: VPN services prevent Internet activity from being monitored.