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September 15, 2011

Cut ties with online piracy websites, Jeremy Hunt tells advertisers, credit cards companies

Sluggishness in building of fibre-optic and mobile broadband networks, culture secretary complains 

By CBR Staff Writer

UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked Web-based companies — including credit card companies and advertisers – to sever all ties with websites that are involved in illegal online piracy.

Delivering a speech to the Royal Television Society, Hunt laid out his priorities in the next communications act, due to become law towards the end of the current Parliament in 2015. He said that companies should work with the government to make it harder for illegal piracy sites to prosper.

Hunt also denied accusations that blocking access to pirated content amounted to an attack on net neutrality.

"Unlawfully distributing copyrighted material is theft – and a direct assault on the freedoms and rights of creators of content to be rewarded fairly for their efforts," he said.

"We do not allow certain products to be sold in the shops on the High Street, nor do we allow shops to be set up purely to sell counterfeited products. Likewise we should be entitled to make it more difficult to access sites that are dedicated to the infringement of copyright," he added.

It is likely that new laws could ask broadband providers to offer consumers automatic controls over offensive content such as pornography.

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He said, "When it comes to accessing material that can offend taste and decency standards in their own home, we should put consumers firmly in the driving seat.’

Hunt also complained that the building of fibre-optic and mobile broadband networks is too slow.

Hunt said, "We need to ensure we do not make the same mistake in broadband that we made in railways – building our high-speed network 45 years after the French and 62 years after the Japanese."

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