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Broadband customers have launched an online petition defending internet service providers (ISPs) against new anti-piracy proposals.

The petition aims to prevent new legislation that forces ISPs to take more responsibility for monitoring their customers' web usage habits to establish whether they are downloading files illegally.

Under the proposals, music rights-holders would provide ISPs with proof of an individual's illegal activity, which the ISP would then verify and act on, usually with a probationary warning. After three offences, users could be banned from their ISPs, the Register reports.

The petition states: "We the undersigned petition the prime minister to not force internet service providers to act as legal representatives for the Record Industry Association of America and be treated like a common courier."

A recently published government document has stated that legislation will be introduced if voluntary agreements between ISPs and the record industry do not produce results, but some critics have said that self-regulation would be more practical.

John Lovelock, of the Federation Against Software Theft, has told IT Week that by encouraging businesses and homeowners to more diligently assess how their connections are used, ISPs could regulate the industry in a much more cost-effective and efficient way.

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