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Shoot-to-kill policy targets Hull's P2P users

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Bittorrent users are being disconnected in Hull without warning by the local ISP - and must promise not to do it again before service can be restored, the BBC's Look North reports.

One subscriber claims to have been disconnected by Karoo, owned by Kingston Communications, after downloading Tomb Raider from Demonoid. Another Bittorrent user who had been disconnected without notice was invited to sign a confession:

"The form basically said 'if I admit my guilt you'll reconnect me'. So I didn't sign it and walked out. I'm still not reconnected," Andrea Robinson told BBC Radio.

Karoo stonewalled our questions yesterday, providing us with this canned statement from Nick Thompson, Director of Consumer and Publishing Services:

“We want all of our customers to be able to get the most out of their Karoo broadband and to be able to use their connection safely and responsibly. Unfortunately the online activity by a minority of users can have a detrimental effect on those who are surfing responsibly.

“If we are made aware that customers are accessing inappropriate material, performing illegal acts or infringing copyright we have a duty to act. All of our customers sign up to an Acceptable Use Policy which enables us to take the appropriate measures, if necessary."

Hull has an unique telecomms history. The local authority acquired a telephony license in 1902, with the authority-owned operating company floating as Kingston Communications in 1999. Karoo offers high-speed ADSL2+ lines that consistently top the speed ratings. However, since neither BT nor Virgin operate in the area, customers cannot switch to a local loop unbundled DSL provider - the choice is currently either Karoo or mobile broadband.

"This will hurt me more than it will hurt you..."

Users on the wrong end of Karoo's shoot-to-kill policy have a right to feel aggrieved - because it's far more extreme than what the British music industry has proposed. It is far more aggressive than the "graduated response" proposed by the British music business umbrella group last month.

UK Music, which represents trade groups BPI and AIM, publishers, collecting societies, musicians and managers, wants a five-step scheme based on warnings and temporary, limited suspensions:

1. Warning notice. The ISP will send a letter to the account holder illegally file sharing copyright material

2. Interactive Notification & Web Redirection. The ISP will redirect the account’s web browser to a website which will require the account holder to identify themselves and their responsibility for the account.

3. Should an ISP receive evidence of illegal file sharing on an account for a third occasion, it will send a notification to the account holder that their internet service will be immediately suspended for 72 hours.

4. Evidence of illegal file sharing on an account on a fourth occasion, the ISP will send a notification to the account holder that their internet service will be immediately suspended for one month.

5. With evidence of illegal file sharing for a fifth occasion, the ISP will suspend the account for a period of two months and that a further two month suspension will be implemented if a further infringement occurs

This represents a consensus position that is far more consumer-friendly than Karoo's sudden death. So who put them up to it?

A call to the Universal Music Group UK had not been returned at publication time. ®

Been kneecapped by Karoo? Let us know by email here - confidentiality assured

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