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Peter Bradwell: the fight for online rights in the UK is far from over
Two of the UK’s largest internet service providers BT and TalkTalk challenged the legality of the Digital Economy Act 2010 in the High Court yesterday. Antony White QC, acting for the firms, claimed that the new legislation is flawed and incompatible with EU law. It would unlawfully “impact on the privacy and free expression rights” of consumers, he said. The Act was passed by the previous government during last year’s “wash-up” period. BT and TalkTalk won the right to judicial review in November 2010.
Two of the United Kingdom’s largest internet service providers (ISPs) have requested a judicial review be launched into the Digital Economy Act. BT and TalkTalk claim that the act, designed to reduce internet piracy, contravenes European Union legislation. They say the act, which was rushed through parliament before the May general election, will force them to disconnect customer subscriptions on copyright grounds. BT and TalkTalk claim the regulations infringe basic rights and freedoms whilst financially disadvantaging larger ISPs because the legislation will not apply to ISPs with less than 400,000 subscribers.
I’ve written a short blog explaining the potential effects of the UK’s Digital Economy Act to American readers of Dissent magazine.
If you think this only affects Internet users in Britain, think again. As with so much illiberal legislation, once mandated in one country, it begins to creep abroad. As Ian Brown, of the Oxford Internet Institute writes in the latest edition of the Index on Censorship magazine: “The European Commission has been secretly negotiating a new anti-counterfeiting treaty with the US, Japan and other developed nations that would mandate a three strikes policy.”
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