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The recently drawn-up file sharing agreement between the British Phonographic Industry and six major broadband providers raises some serious questions, says one expert.

A memorandum of understanding - signed by BT, Virgin Media, Carphone Warehouse, Tiscali, Sky and Orange, with the government's encouragement - will see broadband subscribers who are found to be downloading music illegally sent warning letters and face the eventual possibility of disconnection.

Emily Bell of the Guardian feels that the freedom of providers to make checks on users suspected of file sharing has implications for internet privacy.

"While nobody should endorse illegal file-sharing, the issue of monitoring internet use is controversial," she said. "It reminds people there is an ability to monitor and store data about individuals at the most granular and unwelcome level."

Ms Bell continued: "Obviously, this happens all the time, but the increasingly public reminders raise some very uncomfortable questions about personal freedom versus commercial compliance in the future."

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) recently launched a consultation on the legislative options surrounding illegal file sharing.

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