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TalkTalk outlines legal challenge to Digital Economy Act


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Firm highlights key issues in run-up to court hearing in March

TalkTalk has reiterated its stand against the Digital Economy Act ahead of the firm's legal challenge to the controversial legislation.

TalkTalk and BT are to take their grievances to court in March, and Andrew Heaney, executive director at the ISP, has argued again that the legislation will have little impact on file sharing and is likely to affect innocent web users the most.

"Users who want to engage in file sharing activities will always find a way to do so, while implementing the Act will recoup estimates of 20 per cent of lost revenues, set against millions having to be spent enforcing the Act," he said at a House of Commons meeting organised by the Federation Against Software Theft.

"It's also highly disproportionate to threaten the owner of an internet account with legal action or termination when you can't even prove it was them that carried out the activities."

Heaney added that the Act is "attempting to crack a nut with a sledgehammer but missing the nut anyway", insisting that a more measured approach centered on education and information is better in the long term.

Heaney told V3.co.uk that he hopes the legal challenge will eventually result in the legislation's being thrown out.

"A quashing order will send the clearest message to the government that they have to properly assess compatibility with e-commerce, privacy and data retention directives as well as look at the proportionality of what is being proposed," he said.

Frank Jennings, a partner at law firm DMH Stallard, also noted that new forms of file-sharing site could start appearing, such as so-called 'cyber locker' sites that come online for a short time behind a firewall before disappearing.

"There could even be streaming type models run via the cloud which could also have an impact on this issue," he said.

The hearing on the Digital Economy Act will commence on 22 March and is scheduled to run for three days.

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