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Digital Economy Bill becomes law

TalkTalk and Google slam clauses in the bill

The controversial Digital Economy Bill has become law after being given final approval by the House of Lords and Royal Assent.

The bill was passed to the House of Lords yesterday for final approval following two days of debate in the House of Commons.

Some of the measures contained in the bill will come into immediate effect under the Digital Economy Act 2010.

However, others will be subject to further debate and public consultation once parliament has resumed after the general election on May 6.

This includes the contentious clause that allows courts to order ISPs to block websites offering copyright infringing content like YouTube.

The act also plans to tackle internet piracy with a 'three strikes' rule that could see those suspected of illegal downloading issued with letters from their ISP regarding their activities.

Copyright owners will be allowed to ask a court to order ISPs to reveal the name and addresses of illegal file-sharers so they can start legal action.

Finally, repeat offenders could also face technical measures including a temporary ban from the internet.

However, UK ISP TalkTalk, which has frequently voiced its concerns over the Digital Economy Bill, slammed the measures in the act.

"Many draconian proposals remain [in the Act], such as the presumption that they [customers] are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent, and, as in China, the potential for legitimate search engines and websites to be blocked," said TalkTalk's Andrew Heaney, in a blog.

"TalkTalk will continue to battle against these oppressive proposals - they will require 'secondary legislation' before they can be implemented."

Google joined TalkTalk is condemning parts of the bill.

"The proposals to introduce website have escaped proper scrutiny. They were introduced 24 hours before a crucial vote in the House of Lords, without a full debate over whether such a policy is right in principle," the search engine said.

"We absolutely believe in the importance of copyright, but blocking through injunction creates a high risk that legal content gets mistakenly blocked, or that people abuse the system."

Many Brits feel the bill was not given proper scrutinty as MPs rushed to get it approved before parliament is dissolved on April 12 in preparation for the election.

More than 20,000 web users wrote to their local MP as part of an online campaign in a bid to stop the bill being rushed through.

See also: Digital Economy Bill to be debated today


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