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Govt will not repeal Digital Economy Act

But changes could be made at later date

The government has no plans to repeal the controversial Digital Economy Act.

Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told Paidcontent.co.uk "we're not going to repeal it".

Hunt also told the website the government will monitor the Act's performance and make changes at a later date if necessary.

The Act became law last month after MPs voted to pass the controversial Digital Economy Bill before Parliament was dissolved in preparation for the May 6 general election, despite concerns that the bill had not been properly scrutinised.

Measures designed to tackle internet piracy are among the issues dealt with by the Act.

Under the three-strikes system set out in the Act, illegal downloaders will be issued with warning emails and letters. Those that continue to offend will face 'technical measures' which could include a temporary ban from the web.

However, Hunt's comments will come as a surprise, as it was widely expected that the Liberal Democrats would urge the coalition government to repeal the Act.

"Conference urges Liberal Democrat ministers and MPs to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal of those sections of the Digital Economy Act 2010 which are inconsistent with policy motion 'Freedom, creativity and the internet' as passed at Spring Conference 2010," the party said after its special conference, which took place recently.

As well as a temporary internet ban for repeat illegal downloaders, the Lib Dems were against the clause that allows courts to order ISPs to block websites offering copyright infringing content.

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) said the government's decision not to repeal the act was "great news for the software industry".

"Our hope is that the graduated response provisions of this Act will be proportionate and drive traffic towards legitimate downloads," said FAST's chief executive John Lovelock.

"At this time of economic pressure this is great news for the country too, since more legitimate sales will mean more tax revenue and more workers in employment - everyone wins."

The Open Rights Group, however, is continuing with its campaign to get the government to repeal the Act.

"As part of the promises that created our new government, a promise was made to repeal the Digital Economy Act – an act that allows innocent internet users to be disconnected from the internet," the Open Rights Group says on its campaign website.

"We expect to see this election promise carried out. This site's purpose is to see how long it takes before this becomes a reality."

Find out what PC Advisor readers said about the Digital Economy Act in our poll.

See also: Coalition govt to fight over Digital Economy Act?

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