BT and Talk Talk challenge the Digital Economy Act for their own good

8 July 2010

The Digital Economy Act, passed days before Parliament was dissolved for the General Election, was and still is regarded as something of a sow's ear. Deliberately rushed through with little time to be debated, passed into law by MPs who didn't necessarily understand what they were voting on, nobody seemed particularly happy with the outcome.

The more questionable aspects of the Act included proposals to force ISPs to disconnect illegal file-sharers and give copyright holders the power to block access to websites hosting illegal content.

Now BT and TalkTalk to joined together to seek a judicial review of the Act, to clarify its legality before it's implemented next year. And both companies talk a good game, stating that their concerns are for their customers and their "basic rights and freedoms". Says Charles Dunstone, chairman of TalkTalk:

"The Digital Economy Act's measures will cost the UK hundreds of millions and many people believe they are unfair, unwarranted and won't work. Innocent broadband customers will suffer and citizens will have their privacy invaded."

BT whistle a very similar tune - this from Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail: "We feel we have no choice. We have to do this for our customers."

Hooray for the big guys, standing up for the man on the stree- sorry, what's that? Of course, the devil is very much in the detail; as it stands the Act specifies that only ISPs with more than 400,000 customers must take action against customers, so rather than this being all about the consumer, this fight is actually about protecting their profits:

Andrew Heaney, executive director of TalkTalk, told the BBC: "It means we could have huge swathes of customers moving to smaller ISPs to avoid detection."

And there we are . Nobody would have cared if they'd said they were challenging the Act in the interests of self-preservation. Always best to get your story straight before talking to the press.


  • Jonny S.
    It's a system that no one wins on as people will always evade detection, by moving ISP or otherwise and to be honest not even the record industry would win - in the end it would mean more money to for bugger all. Jesus it's like the Labour government all over again!!
  • Chris
    Does it really matter what reasons they do it for? As long as they fight this and possibly stop it then its a win win situation for the customer and ISP.
  • Issac M.
    I agree with Chris. You've eeked a rather tenuous argument out of this story. Who care's why they do it? (the truth be told we all get something from it). So think you need to applaud rather than lay into (... and ask where the fuck Sky and Virgin are in this)
  • FFS
    It's simple, the vast majority of people who want rapid speeds want them so that they can download their torrents/newsgroups/whatever quickly. Given that for most day to day stuff, a download speed of 5Mb would be sufficient, the ISPs know that swathes of people will be downgrading to slower packages if they can't get the most out of their downloads anymore.
  • Chris
    @Bitterwallet Did you really think BT and Talk Talk are going to come out and say "We want to stop this bill to save our profits"? Ofcourse they won't! Also how do you know if BT and Talk Talk wouldn't challenge it if they weren't going to lose profits? It would be a massive PR boost for standing up to the government and actually listening to what the public wants! BTW I do not illegally download, I just do not agree with this bill at all!
  • Paul S.
    Guys, you're right. Bullshit PR FTW.
  • james d.
    or we could just all start using newsgroups. Did you know BT and virgin both do free usenet access? It's great.
  • Simon B.
    @ Issac, Virgin and Sky are far less likely to be involved in this as it is a conflict of interests with the copyright materials they charge you a subscription fee to access. BT Vision is insignificant so I am sure BT don't care if they rattle a cage or two.
  • Born2Hula
    I actually sat in on some of the parliament hearings for this bill. 5 people were in attendance. 1 was asleep. 1 spent the whole time texting. 2 sat chatting. and the last stood up reading a speech that was, at the best, shit, and, at the worst, just forum posts of people's opinions on the bill glued together with buzzwords. Within a week the bill was passed. God bless democracy!
  • The V.
    Since the passing of the Digital Economy Act 2010, the assent of which evoked a (not entirely) resounding cry of joy from the music industry, its swift passage into law appears to have caused some turbulence amongst ISPs, and all for valid reasons. More on this available:

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