The move is a massive boast to the BPI and others who have argued that the original six technical measures - such as bandwidth capping and protocol blocking - do not go anywhere near far enough in stopping repeat infringers or that tougher penalties were not being brought in quickly enough.
In a statement issued by BIS this morning, the department suggests "we cannot know how P2P technology might develop in the short to medium term and we want to ensure Ofcom has a full tool kit from which to select the most appropriate measure should technical measures be deemed necessary."
It adds, "We are considering the case for adding suspension of accounts into the list of measures that could be imposed." Although it made clear suspension would be regarded as "a last resort" and that it would need to ensure that such a measure complied with UK and EU legislation.
BPI CEO Geoff Taylor welcomes the move. He says, "Digital piracy is a serious problem and a real threat to the UK's creative industries. Today is a step forward that should help the legal digital market to grow for consumers. The solution to the piracy problem must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. We look forward to working with Government and ISPs on the details of these proposals to ensure these objectives are met."
We7 CEO Steve Purdham adds, "It is encouraging that the government recognises the immense value in music and other content industries.
UK Music also praises the development, which should accelerate action against filesharers. A spokesman says, "UK Music is pleased that Government is proposing accelerated and proportionate action to meet their stated ambition of reducing illegal file-sharing by 70-80% within 2-3 years.Throughout this debate, UK Music has voiced concerns that the original time frame of proposed legislation, and particularly the trigger mechanisms that would grant Ofcom reserve powers to implement technical measures, would have failed to meet these ambitions. More than that, these trigger mechanisms would have required our members to take legal action against individuals - a move the UK music industry has consistently resisted. We look forward to open discussions with Government and other stakeholders in the weeks ahead."
However, the MMF remains unconvinced. In a statement it says, "it has already made clear to the Government its belief that the proposed legislation will not achieve the desired results of significantly reducing illegal file sharing and that technical measures are soon by-passed. The introduction of the disconnection option is actually an irrelevance".
A BIS spokeswoman says the Government is still committed to filesharers being sent warning letters and that suspension is "still only an idea" at this stage. "It would only be used for the very worst repeat offenders," she adds.
The Government is also asking for comments on a proposal that the Secretary of State be given two-part powers including being able to speed up the process if it is not hitting its target of reducing filesharing by 70%, which it accepts is difficult to measure.
This would allow Mandelson to direct Ofcom to introduce the technical measures earlier. The statement reads, "Ofcom will still have a duty to monitor the overall position and report on the effectiveness of the original obligations in order to provide an evidence base for the Secretary of State's decision, but this advice would not be binding".
Further, the BIS statement has also published its thoughts on who should foot the bill to pay for notifications and data collection: it believes they should be split 50:50 between rights holders and ISPs.
Because it is asking stakeholders to comment on these new suggestions, BIS has extended the deadline for the consultation to September 29.