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British Telecom threatened with two cyberstrikes

Two groups of militant Net users ramp up campaigns to cut phone charges

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Internet users in the UK are being urged to down modems and take part in a pan-European cyberstrike next year, even as they are also being asked separately to desist from access the Net in December. The strike, which could be the largest of its kind if it goes ahead, will seek fairer Internet charging by telecoms operators in EU member states. In particular, organisers are calling for flat-rate tariffs -- a single payment per month for voice calls and Internet access -- rather than the per-minute tariffs currently levied. Protest groups from Germany, Spain, France and Italy have joined the UK to co-ordinate the 'industrial action' and it's expected that more countries will join the strike by the time it takes place in the middle of next year. But Alastair Scott, head of the Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications (CUT), which is co-ordinating the action in the UK, is worried that a proposed rogue cyberstrike planned for Sunday 13 December will detract from the European action. According to Scott, the people behind December's strike are "computer gamers" and he criticised them for running a disorganised campaign. "The people running it simply haven't got it together," he said. "They asked for our advice but they didn't take it. I don't want to be associated with this strike." A spokesman for BT confirmed that he had heard of the proposed strike but said he "was not worried" by the threat of action, adding that its impact would be insignificant. This is the latest in a number of cyberstrikes that have hit countries trying to address telecoms pricing structures. Germany and Spain have both experienced high profile actions, and a student from China is planning one for the end of the month in protest at the high cost of Internet access there. The Spanish strike met with success, as did the German action, though Deutsche Telekom cut its prices before the strike and claimed it was going to do so anyway. ®

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