Digital Economy Act judicial review

TalkTalk and BT have won the right to get a judicial review of the controversial Digital Economy Act.

BT and TalkTalk argued that the legislation had been “rushed through parliament” before the election.

Internet service providers (ISPs) are unhappy with the part of the act that requires them to take action against suspected illegal file-sharers. The act also set out powers that could allow the government oversight over Nominet, the registry for domain names.

During the parliamentary debate about the Digital Economy bill, held in the final days before the parliament was dissolved before May’s general election, some MPs complained that it needed more debate because of its complex nature. Andrew Heaney, director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk said “only 6% of MPs attended the brief debate”.

A judge will conduct a full review in February, considering whether the parts of the act that deal with illegal file-sharing are in breach of the e-commerce directive, which rules that ISPs cannot be held liable for traffic on their networks.

The act will also be measured against EU privacy and technical standards legislation.

One of the most controversial elements of the law relates to tougher penalties for people who download music, films and other content without paying.

ISPs will be required to send notices to people identified as net pirates, with persistent offenders being added to a blacklist.