Digital Economy Act in the dock as ISPs win judicial review

The rushed and ill-thought-out Digital Economy Act is to go under the microscope with news of welcome scrutiny from both the government and the courts.

The rushed and ill-thought-out Digital Economy Act is to go under the microscope with news of welcome scrutiny from both the government and the courts.

TalkTalk and BT have been granted a judicial review of the Act by the High Court today. A judge will now rule on the legality of the Act and its provisions under EU law.

The ISPs objected to the lack of debate and unseemly haste with which the Digital Economy Bill was whisked through Parliament in the run-up to the General Election. The Act puts the onus on ISPs to check piracy by monitoring illegal file sharing, passing offenders' details to copyright holders, and disconnecting wrong'uns.

Ofcom is currently working on the guidelines for the Act, which won't be enforced until at least 2012.

The government is also scrutinising the Act. One of the first acts of the new coalition government was to state that it won't repeal the Act. However, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has today announced a review of the intellectual property system, in a bid for the new administration to reshape the system. The review will be led by top digital boffin Professor Ian Hargreaves, and will investigate, among other things, how copyright holders can stop getting in the way of innovation on the Web.

At the same time, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport will investigate the Act itself. Two committees? Now that's getting stuff done!

Today's news looks set to revive the debate over the Digital Economy Act, which is vague, lumbering and riddled with holes. We've never been fans, pointing out nine things you can't do any more under the auspices of the Act. Do you welcome the reviews of Digital Britain, or do you think the Act got it right?

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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