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Britons who use the internet to illegally download multimedia could find their access cut off entirely under new proposals from the government, it has emerged.

A Green Paper scheduled for publication next week has been seen by the Times, which reports that a "three strikes" rule is being considered.

This would be likely to incorporate a legal obligation for broadband providers to take action against customers who infringe the rules.

It could ultimately lead to prosecution of the firms themselves if they failed to act following the third breach by a client.

However, a spokesperson for the Internet Service Providers Association told the publication that an alternative is still preferred within the industry.

"Every right-thinking body knows that self-regulation is much the better option in these areas," he said.

The Times adds that there would likely be some doubt as to the best approach if an individual were to claim that their wireless broadband connection had been "piggy-backed" by an outsider.

In a separate report, the publication claims that 95 per cent of all night-time internet traffic is used by file sharing programs.

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