February 22, 2010 | Jim Killock

Has the government changed its position on Disconnection? No

When is ‘disconnection’ not disconnection? When it is ‘account suspension’, of course.

The government therefore felt justified in a response to a petition on Friday in claiming that they were not intending to ‘disconnect’ families from the net after accusations of copyright infringement. If you think they mean that their internet cabling will still be plugged in at the wall, then that’s true.

If you think they mean that these families will be able to connect to the internet, well, no they won’t. Their connection will be switched off.

Please do not be confused by the government’s semantics. BIS and DCMS decided in the summer that they would not refer to ‘disconnecting’ users, because that sounds harsh and over the top. ‘Temporary account suspension’ sounds much more reasonable.

Language matters. What journalist is going to run a story on ‘temporary account suspension’ (yawn)? This is why the government has chosen these disingenuous terms: it‘s just more spin.

What we still don’t know is how long a family’s internet might be disconnected for.

A month? Three? A year? There is nothing in the Bill or any of the notes that we are aware of that might give us a clue.

‘Temporary account suspensions’ sound like the government would to suspend accounts for a few hours, or at most a day, to fit most people’s idea of ‘temporary’ and ‘suspension’. We doubt ‘suspensions’ would be so brief. We can assume what the government means to you and me is ‘disconnection’.