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