ISPs denied Digital Economy Act appeal

Summary:BT and TalkTalk are considering what measures to take next after being blocked from appealing the findings of the Digital Economy Act judicial review

TalkTalk and BT cannot appeal against the ruling of a High Court judge who dismissed most of the ISPs' claims in a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act, the Court of Appeal has said.

High court

TalkTalk and BT cannot appeal against the ruling of a High Court judge who dismissed most of the ISPs' claims in a judicial review of the Digital Economy Act. Photo credit: Cindy Andrie/Flickr

The two broadband providers were attempting to appeal against Justice Kenneth Parker's decision on the basis that the provisions of the act infringed EU laws on privacy, freedom of information and the responsibilities of ISPs. However, on Tuesday the Court of Appeal denied the companies the right to appeal, BT and TalkTalk confirmed.

"Having received the decision from the Court of Appeal, we are now considering our position," a BT spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday. TalkTalk also said it is considering what to do next.

The provisions of the Digital Economy Act force ISPs to pass on details of customers suspected of unlawful file-sharing to rights holders. In the early stages of its implementation, the act calls for the sending of warning letters to repeat offenders, telling them to stop unlawfully sharing files. This campaign has not yet begun, due to the ISPs' judicial review, and will probably only kick off next year.

After one year of letter-sending, if infractions have not fallen by 70 percent, the secretary of state will then decide on further punishments. Proposed measures include the suspension of customers' broadband connections.

The decision on Tuesday was welcomed by the secretary of state's office.

"We welcome the judge's decision and the court's recognition that measures in the Digital Economy Act are both lawful and proportionate," a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said in a statement. "The government remains committed to tackling online piracy and so will set out the next steps for implementation of the Digital Economy Act shortly."

However, Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group (ORG), insisted that the act is "bad law".

"Over 40 nations backed a UN report saying the act breaches human rights and needs repealing," Killock said on Wednesday. "Disconnecting people for financial misdemeanours can never be right."


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Topics: Government : UK

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