The Digital Economy Act brought to court by two UK ISPs

By EDRi · July 14, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Zwei britische ISPs bringen Digital Economy Act vor Gericht |]

The two big UK ISPs, BT and TalkTalk, have asked the High Court to carry out
a judicial review of the most controversial aspects of the Digital Economy
Act, in order to establish whether it is in contradiction with existing
privacy and electronic communication laws.

The law will force ISPs to disconnect their customers deemed by intellectual
property rights holders to have allegedly infringed copyrights.

“The companies share a concern that obligations imposed by the Act may not
be compatible with important European rules that are designed to ensure that
national laws are proportionate, protect users’ privacy, restrict the role
of ISPs in policing the Internet and maintain a single market,” says a
statement of the two ISPs.

Regulator Ofcom, which is in charge of drawing up detailed plans on how the
legislation will work, has recently publicly presented the draft policy to
deal with illegal file-sharers, requiring ISPs to send warning letters to
customers who allegdly illegally download films, music and TV programs. A
provision was added at the last moment stipulating that several rounds of
consultation would be required before the implementation of such measures.

The two ISPs believe they are also disadvantaged by the Digital Economy Act
as, presently, the code of practice applies only to ISPs with more than 400
000 subscribers and therefore they may see all lot of their customers move
to smaller ISPs which are not subject to the legislation.

Technology lawyer Struan Robertson of Pinsent Masons stated that the court
could not do much about a law that has already been approved by the
Parliament: “All the court can do is make a declaration that a law is in
breach of other obligations. That declaration would put pressure on
Parliament to revisit the act.”

Although, according to BBC, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the
Digital Economy Act “badly needs to be repealed” the new coalition
government has no plans to change it.

“The Digital Economy Act sets out to protect our creative economy from the
continued threat of online copyright infringement, which industry estimates
costs the creative industries, including creators, £400m per year,” read a
statement from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills which also
said: “We believe measures are consistent with EU legislation and that there
are enough safeguards in place to protect the rights of consumers and ISPs
and will continue to work on implementing them.”

ISPs take Digital Economy Act to the courts (8.07.2010)

BT and TalkTalk challenge Digital Economy Act (8.07.2010)

EDRi-gram: UK Digital Economy Bill voted by the Parliament (21.04.2010)