BT confident Digital Economy Act will be thrown out

14 Jul 2010
Houses of Parliament

Digital Economy Act could breach European law, claims BT executive

BT says it's confident that a court will overturn the Digital Economy Act because it infringes European law.

BT and fellow ISP TalkTalk last week asked the High Court to review the Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through at the end of the last Parliament.

The ISPs claim the legislation wasn't given due scrutiny in the House of Commons - which debated the bill for only two days - and questioned whether it was compatible with EU law.

The House of Commons barely got a look at this. Both houses should have a proper look at something, especially if it's controversial

"It cannot be held that the Digital Economy Act got a fair ride in Parliament," said BT's director of group industry policy, Simon Milner, at a Westminster e-Forum on file-sharing.

"The House of Commons barely got a look at this. Both houses should have a proper look at something, especially if it's controversial."

Milner claimed a clause added at the last minute, which places an onus on ISPs to block sites accused of hosting copyrighted material, was "included without any kind of impact assessment".

BT also claims that the law may infringe a European privacy directive, because the ISP is being asked to retain and manipulate data on its subscribers' internet activity.

"We don’t think the Government followed due process in terms of EU law – it simply did not have the time, because it tried to rush it through," Miler claimed. "In our view, the court will decide that it’s not fine."

Time to move on

Representatives of the content industry took a very different view, arguing that it was time to put the controversy of the Digital Economy Act behind us.

"This sniping at the Digital Economy Act undermines the law," argued Thomas Dillon, a former general counsel for the Motion Picture Association and a member of BAFTA. "It's a done deal. It's too late for that."

Dillon, who said he broadly supported the Digital Economy Act, also called for ISPs to take harsh action against convicted illegal file-sharers. "It would be better for the ISPs to exercise their contractual right to cut off or suspend someone who's a convicted file-sharer," he stated.

Read more

News