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Talk Talk and BT challenge Digital Economy Act

Simon Quicke

The Digital Economy Act is being challenged by Talk Talk and BT as the campaign to beat off the threat of pressuring ISPs to help crack down on illegal downloaders takes another twist.

The background to the controversy over the Digital Economy Act started in the last throws of the Labour government when the Bill was amended to give the power to restrict and ultimately exclude illegal downloaders from the web.

Some of the ISPs said they would not play ball with the proposed anti-piracy measures but even so the Bill became law just before Labour departed office.

Now a challenge by Talk Talk and BT is challenging whether or not the act passed through all the correct parliamentary procedures before becoming law.

"The Act was rushed through Parliament in the 'wash up' period after the General Election was called in early April. It's our belief that this haste meant the Digital Economy Bill, as it then was, became law without being properly scrutinized and without its impact being properly assessed," wrote the CEO of Talk Talk Charles Dunstone on his blog.

"In addition to having these procedural concerns, we believe the measures proposed to try to prevent illegal file sharing could harm the basic rights and freedoms of citizens," he added.

Talk Talk and BT are calling for a judicial review by the High Court as soon as possible before money is spent on implementing the law.

The current government has already announced plans to scrap the landline tax that would have funded the expansion of broadband into rural areas and is likely to be attracted by the idea that more money could be saved from public coffers.

Throughout the course of the Digital Economy Bill anti-piracy groups, including the Federation Against Software Theft, were calling for tough measures to protect intellectual property and these organisations would be disappointing with any watering down of the law.

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