TalkTalk Boss Steps Up Opposition To Digital Economy Bill

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Charles Dunstone has pledged to go to court to fight against the government’s Digital Economy Bill, and said he would refuse to disconnect suspected file-sharers

The boss of one of the UK’s largest ISPs has reiterated his vehement opposition to the government’s Digital Economy Bill, and said he could be prepared to fight the government in court if it became law.

Charles Dunstone is the chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, which owns TalkTalk, the UK’s second largest ISP. His opposition to the bill is well known, and back in November last year he teamed up with the UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) to slam the proposed measures for combating illegal file-sharing.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph however, Dunstone stepped up his rhetoric and said he could be prepared to fight the government in court should the anti-piracy clauses of the Digital Economy Bill become legislation.

He explained that he may choose instead to fight the government in court, if his lobbying fails and that his company would “consider all its options” should these clauses in the Digital Economy Bill go through.

He also said he would refuse to send his customers, who were suspected file-sharers, warning letters about their activity or disconnect them, even if these clauses of the bill became law.

“There is no need to pursue this letter-sending and disconnection policy, when [the music industry] can just individually prosecute people who have violated copyright rules,” he said.

TalkTalk is also behind an online petition, ‘DontDisconnect.Us‘ to fight the Digital Economy Bill, which now has nearly 32,000 signatures.

TalkTalk’s stance is in marked constrast to the likes of Virgin Media, which has broken ranks with its fellow service providers and will shortly begin trialing a tool that can monitor file-sharing over the Internet.

This is despite the European Commission saying recently that it will assess the legality of the software (Detica’s Cview), which Virgin Media will use to analyse file-sharing in the UK.

Earlier this week the consumer magazine Which? warned that the government’s crackdown on illegal file-sharing may be targeting innocent people, after it received over 150 enquiries from people who believe they have been wrongly accused of pirating porn and music content.

The Digital Economy Bill is currently going through the House of Lords, but is expected to reach the House of Commons by late February.