Digital Economy Act delayed by six months

2010 or 2011?

The rules encompassed within the Digital Economy Act (DEA) will not come into force until at least October, the Government has admitted this week.

The controversial legislation, which could see illegal filesharers cut off from their internet connections, was challenged by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) TalkTalk and BT, who won a judicial review of the Act beginning last month.

Following the high court hearing, the Act was delayed indefinitely. However, the Government has now claimed October will be the month the new rules come into play, but because of the Ofcom letter plans rather than the review.

A spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport told IT PRO the DEA has initially set a deadline of 31 March for the letter writing system which plans to send out warning letters to alleged illegal filesharers before cutting them off after three strikes to get the go ahead.

This has now been extended by six months and they claimed it was merely a factor, along with the extra work for the department brought about by the judicial review, as to why the bill has been delayed.

"It doesn't mean changing the timetable and we still are aiming to have the first letters out by the first half of next year," they added.

However, supporters of the DEA are concerned this new setback, along with the judicial review, will continue to make rights holders suffer.

"The Act now resides in the hands the court and that means so to does intellectual property rights' of hundreds of businesses," said Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel at the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST).

"The ruling is now not expected for another six to eight weeks and even then it will probably face appeal from whichever side loses. And that means this will run and run for months, stuck in the UK and possibly EU legal system."

The DEA was pushed through parliament in the wash-up phase of the last Government.

Critics claimed the original bill had not been given enough scrutiny due to the rushed nature of the debate, but, despite the Liberal Democrats claiming they would revoke the Act if in power, the Coalition Government has gone ahead with the plans.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.