THE Digital Economy Act was hanging in the balance last night after a judge granted a full hearing into claims the legislation was rushed through and could contravene EU rules.
BT and TalkTalk have mounted a legal battle against the act, which they claim was not properly discussed before being passed during “wash-up” – the period between one parliament being dissolved and another being formed.
They are particularly concerned about a clause that could force ISPs to suspend the accounts of users suspected of repeatedly infringing copyright. A hearing will now take place in February to debate whether the Act needs to be amended or scrapped altogether.
A BT spokesman said: “It is important for everyone involved – copyright owners, ISPs, broadband subscribers including consumers and businesses, and institutions like libraries and universities – to have certainty on the law before proceeding.”
TalkTalk director Andrew Heaney added: “We are very pleased that the Court has recognised that our concerns about the copyright infringement provisions in the Digital Economy Act should be considered in a full hearing. The Act was rushed through Parliament with only six per cent of MPs attending the brief debate and has very serious flaws.
“The provisions to try to reduce illegal filesharing are unfair, won’t work and will potentially result in millions of innocent customers who have broken no law suffering and having their privacy invaded.
“We look forward to the hearing to properly assess whether the Act is legal and justifiable and so ensure that all parties have certainty on the law before proceeding.”