Have ISPs finally lost the DEA fight?

BT and TalkTalk have been defeated in their latest challenge to the Digital Economy Act. Have the final obstacles now been cleared? Simon Brew investigates.

Since it was rushed through the legislative process, both before and after the general election of 2010, the Digital Economy Act (DEA) has been a contentious piece of work.

ISPs, with some justification, didn't take kindly to this plan.

The result of an initial report by Lord Carter Of Barnes, it headed to the statute book with concerns about just how deeply it had been interrogated. It was introduced by the Labour government just before the close of Parliament, and picked up by the subsequent coalition administration, none of whom threw any particular sticks in its wheels.

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Alarm

From the off, many businesses and professionals, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) very much included, were sounding alarm bells. In particular, the proposed three strikes rule for broadband customers has remained a major point of contention. For amongst its many clauses in the Act is one demanding that ISPs send warning letters to people suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted material, and in extreme cases, terminating their connection.

ISPs, with some justification, didn't take kindly to this plan (which gives them a policing role of sorts), and many have been strongly resisting it ever since. BT and TalkTalk, in particular, have been following due legal process in their battle against parts of the Digital Economy Act, arguing that asking them to effectively police their customers by sending them letters and threats was in contravention of European Union law.

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Earlier this month, this case finally made it to the Court Of Appeal. Unfortunately for BT and TalkTalk, their appeal was dismissed, and that's certainly cleared the path a little more to the implementation of the act.

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