FRENCH INTERNET USERS can expect to be hounded by the authorities after hundreds of thousands of IP addresses of alleged file sharers are handed over to agents of the big media companies as the Hadopi law comes into force.
The so-called 'three strikes' law will force Internet service providers (ISPs) to turn over customer data relating to IP addresses collected by the copyright enforcement outfit Trident Media Guard. Some are claiming that the number of IP addresses ISPs will have to sift through could hit as many as 150,000 per day.
The ISPs are bound by law to hand over personal details of those who are identified to them by IP address. After three warnings each case will be referred to a judge, who has a range of options in dealing with the supposed miscreant ranging from fines to disconnection from the Internet.
Now one French ISP has confirmed that it has received the first batch of IP addresses that it is being forced to work through. The notion that ISPs will have to process lookup requests for thousands of IP addresses daily is likely to be welcomed by ISPs as much as those who allegedly share files.
Apparently ISPs that don't comply with Sarkozy's Hadopi law can face a fine of up to €1,500 per IP address. The cost of complying might be less than that but it nonetheless exists, promises to be not insubstantial, and is likely to be passed on to Internet access customers because broadband resellers work on very tight margins.
Then there is the question of how users behind network address translation (NAT) connections will be accurately identified. The majority of French ISPs apparently deploy Internet access behind NAT to preserve their allocation of IP addresses, with multiple connections being represented by a single public IP address. It is quite likely, especially in multi-resident dwellings such as blocks of flats, that many users could be connected behind a single public IP address.
But who cared about practicalities or the costs imposed on ISPs, not to mention potential inaccuracies and abuses when the plan sounded like such a winner to all those very close friends of the big media companies in the Sarkozy administration? µ