BT And TalkTalk Appeal Against Digital Economy Ruling


BT and TalkTalk are to appeal against the ruling over the controversial copyright measures in the DEA

The two ISPs spearheading the fight to overturn the Digital Economy Act’s (DEA) copyright measures, are to appeal the recent High Court ruling.

In April, objections lodged by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) BT and TalkTalk were dismissed in London’s High Court.

That decision meant that the controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA) passed its judicial review, and now thousands of Internet users who are suspected of illegal downloads will get warning letters, with persistent offenders seeing their Internet connection suspended.

Disproportionate Laws

The ISPs had argued in court that the DEA, which came into force in June 2010, was disproportionate, and that it infringed users’ basic rights. They also said it had not had enough parliamentary discussion, when it passed just before last year’s general election.

However all but one of these objections were over-ruled in the high court in April.

Yet BT and TalkTalk are not taking this defeat lying down, and according to Reuters both organisations said they would continue their fight against the DEA, which could force them to identify persistent offenders.

It seems that BT and TalkTalk are to appeal against four of the five grounds of the judicial review. Their central point of attack is that the act is “inconsistent with European law”.

Both ISPs have previously raised concerns about the Act is supposed to work alongside directives from the European Union, but they felt that that elements of DEA breach requirements placed on national governments by EU law.

Harms Basic Rights

“BT and TalkTalk believe that the DEA measures aiming to prevent online copyright infringement are inconsistent with European law. Quite apart from the potential impact on their businesses, BT and TalkTalk believe the DEA could harm the basic rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Many MPs of all parties, consumer groups and other communications providers share this view,” said the two ISPs in a statement.

They said they welcomed the High Court’s decision that making ISPs pay toward these administrative costs was not compatible with EU rules about what communications companies can be required to pay for.

“BT and TalkTalk welcomed this part of the judgement. Nonetheless, both companies believe the High Court’s conclusions on many of the other important and complex issues put before it were not robust enough to provide the certainty and clarity which the companies sought,” they said. “This is why they are seeking leave to take the matter before the Court of Appeal.”

The two companies have chosen to seek an appeal on four of the five grounds addressed in the initial High Court case. These relate to the EU’s Technical Standards Directive, the Authorisation Directive, the E-Commerce Directive and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive.

BT and TalkTalk believe the DEA is not consistent with these directives.

Government Defiant

The fifth area addressed in the initial High Court ruling concerned whether the Act was in accordance with EU rules on proportionality.

“Both companies continue to take the view that the regime represents a disproportionate interference with the rights of internet service providers, subscribers and internet users and with the concept of freedom of expression,” they said.

However the Government believes it is on the right track.

“The Government remains confident that the ruling delivered by the High Court was the correct one and is continuing work to implement the Act accordingly,” Reuters reported the Government as saying in a statement.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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