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6 March 2012 Last updated at 06:37 ET BT and Talk Talk say the Digital Economy Act risks infringing user privacy BT and Talk Talk have lost an appeal over controversial measures to tackle copyright infringement online. The internet service providers (ISPs) had argued the UK's Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law.
26 April 2012 Last updated at 08:08 ET The Digital Economy Act seeks to curb rising rates of online piracy The controversial piracy law, the Digital Economy Act, has again been delayed, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed. The measures, such as letters to suspected illegal downloaders and potential disconnection, will not be enforced until at least 2014. Since being passed at the end of the Labour administration in 2010, action has stalled due to legal challenges. The delay was welcomed by the Internet Service Providers' Association (Ispa).
The government has asked Ofcom to review proposals in the Digital Economy Act that aim to combat piracy by having ISPs block access to websites used for copyright infringement. The review will focus on whether such ISP-level blocks are technically viable, and how easy they would be to circumvent, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday. "I have no problem with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content," Hunt said in a statement. "But it is not clear whether the site-blocking provisions in the act could work in practice, so I have asked Ofcom to address this question. "Before we consider introducing site-blocking, we need to know whether these measures are possible," he added. As well as cutting off sites that allow people to access unauthorised copyrighted content, the proposals are designed to control online access to live TV and other streamed content not licensed for viewing outside the UK.
The government is considering a national blocklist to prevent people in state-funded networks from accessing websites that promote Islamic fundamentalism and other extremist views. The measure is designed to restrict access to websites that contain unlawful material, as part of the government's counter-terrorism strategy, home secretary Theresa May said on Tuesday. "Intelligence indicates that the UK faces a serious and sustained threat from terrorism," May told the House of Commons . "To tackle that threat... we must not only arrest and prosecute those who breach the law, but we must stop people being drawn into terrorist-related activity in the first place." The web-filtering measures are part of the government's updated Prevent counter-terrorism strategy (PDF), which the Home Office launched on Tuesday.
Proposals for blocking copyright infringement sites was a core part of the Digital Economy Act (sections 17 and 18) with the aim of reducing the amount of copyright infringement in the United Kingdom. Today sees the publication of reviews into this part of the Act as well as the appeals process by Ofcom, and it would appear that following these reviews Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced the plans to block websites are being dropped. It is [Ofcom's] current belief that the blocking of discrete URLs, or web addresses, is not practical or desirable as a primary approach.
The Liberal Democrats are preparing to change their controversial amendment to the digital economy bill, which has its third and final reading in the House of Lords on Monday. The change would give sites blocked under the bill the power to challenge it in the courts, and to demand legal costs and damages from any copyright owner that caused it to be wrongly blocked through court procedings. But the Open Rights Group, which campaigns on digital rights and freedoms, said that the amendment would not solve deeper problems with the bill – which may be rushed into law with barely any debate in the Commons – and called for it to be abandoned. Amendments tabled to the bill show that the Liberal Democrats now want to alter amendment 120A, which was shown last week to have been copied almost word-for-word from a lobbying paper prepared by the music industry, but which was also widely criticised as giving copyright holders too much power to close down sites on limited evidence.
As a general principle and in support of the rule of law, nobody involved in the campaign process against the implementation of the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) supports the theft of someone else's property as is the case when downloading a pirate copy of a music track. However, before we examine the history of the legislation, let's take a reality check about where we are. The cat is well and truly out of the bag.
A FREEDOM OF INFORMATION RESPONSE has revealed that Lord Mandelson had decided to approve the Digital Economy Act before public consultations had concluded, showing that there was absolutely no interest in seeing what the public had to say. The shocking revelations show that Lord Mandelson, who was voted as the Internet Villian of the Year for 2010, made the decision to forge ahead with the Digital Economy Act as much as two months before the end of public consultations, effectively negating any contributions, for or against the proposals, that anyone else could make. The letters from Mandelson's office reveal that he was in talks with Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group, on 2 July 2009.
Matt Wells is joined by Maggie Brown and Steve Ackerman from Somethin' Else for this week's Media Talk podcast. We begin in Westminster with the digital economy bill. Two years in the making, but passed after just two hours of debate in the House of Commons as part of the parliamentary wash-up - we pick apart this scandalous and wide-ranging piece of legislation. Labour MP Tom Watson tells us why he voted against the government. Be advised, though, that his phone died before we could get onto anything too juicy.