Labour peer and minister Lord Mandelson (pictured) proposes that people who illegally download films and music should have their internet connection cut.
The view, something of a u-turn for the government, was formed after Mandelson dined with the multimillionaire Hollywood mogul David Geffen during his holiday in Corfu. The idea had originally been rejected in the government's Digital Britain report earlier this year.
Writing in The Times newspaper, Charles Dunstone of TalkTalk, Ian Livingston of BT, Tom Alexander of Orange UK, Deborah Prince of Which?, Jim Killock of Open Rights Group and Ed Mayo of Consumer Focus said such plans threaten broadband consumers’ rights and the development of new attractive services.
"First, any decision to move to harsh and punitive measures such as disconnection must be genuinely underpinned by rigorous and objective assessment by Ofcom," the group write in The Times.
"Second, consumers must be presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty. We must avoid an extra-judicial ‘kangaroo court’ process where evidence is not properly tested and accused broadband users are denied the right to defend themselves against false accusations. Without these protections innocent customers will suffer."
"Third, any penalty must be proportionate. Disconnecting users from the internet would place serious limits on their freedom of expression. Usually constraints to freedom of expression are only imposed as the result of custodial sentences, or incitement to racial hatred, or libel."
"Fourth, the proposal that ISPs and by implication broadband customers should pay most of the cost of these measures to support the creative industries is grossly unfair since the vast majority of consumers do not illegally fileshare. Further, this payment approach would discourage content industries from developing new services."
Charles Dunstone, CEO of TalkTalk added in a press release that Lord Mandelson and some of the large content players are increasingly out of touch with consumers. "I am calling on the major content providers to get back round the table with us, consumer groups and other ISPs to devise a plan we can jointly agree on and take to government."
Some have suggested the government plans would be unworkable, difficult to enforce, and place the emphasis on internet service providers snooping on users to try and discover who is downloading what.
In July, Hull based ISP Karoo was reportedly cutting off anyone suspected of downloading illegal content without warning, with some accounts suspended for more than two years.
However, Kingston Communications, Karoo's owners, later dropped its approach of immediately cutting of internet connections without warning following media coverage and public outcry.
Cathy Philips, head of corporate communications for Kingston Communications, said: "We have decided to take a softer approach and we will now operate a three strikes and you are out rule."
Residents in Hull have no choice of ISP, as Kingston Communications, the only local telephone provider and owners of Karoo, has a monopoly. BT, Sky Broadband and others are currently unable to offer local residents rival services, an option many see as unfair.