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High Court agrees to review of Digital Economy Act

BT and TalkTalk claim Act was 'rushed through'

The High Court has granted a judicial review into the Digital Economy Act, following calls from BT and TalkTalk.

In July this year, the UK ISPs put their request to the High Court, stating the Act was "rushed through" and had "insufficient scrutiny". The two firms also said they were concerned that measures to tackle net piracy - including plans to temporarily suspend people from the web - could be in breach of "basic rights and freedoms".

The Digital Economy Act, which covers a number of issues including measures designed to tackle internet piracy, became law in April this year.

"We are very pleased that the Court has recognised that our concerns about the copyright infringement provisions in the Digital Economy Act should be considered in a full hearing. The Act was rushed through Parliament in the 'wash-up', with only six percent of MPs attending the brief debate, and has very serious flaws," said Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk.

"The provisions to try to reduce illegal filesharing are unfair, won't work and will potentially result in millions of innocent customers who have broken no law suffering and having their privacy invaded."

Heaney added the ISP is looking forward to the hearing to properly assess whether the Act is legal and justifiable and so ensure that all parties have certainty on the law before proceeding.

In May, Ofcom, which had been charged with overseeing how the measures would be implemented, issued a draft Code of Practice that said ISPs will have to send warning letters to web users suspected of illegal filesharing. The details of those that have received three or more notifications in a year can be request by copyright holders in a bid to start legal action.

However, the code will initially only apply to fixed-line ISPs with more than 400,000 subscribers, meaning the UK's seven largest internet access providers - BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Sky, Orange, O2 and the Post Office - will be required to conform to the code.

See also: MPs call for changes to Digital Economy Act


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