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TalkTalk vows to fight Digital Economy Bill

by Scott Bicheno on 9 April 2010, 16:57

Tags: Carphone Warehouse

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Idealogical dispute

As you will probably be aware, the Digital Economy Bill was pushed into law yesterday, with measures allowing Peter Mandelson to demand ISPs prevent access to websites suspected of infringing copyright.

One of the UK's major ISPs - TalkTalk - has vowed to fight the bill. Andrew Heany is the executive director of strategy and regulation at Carphone Warehouse, which owns TalkTalk. Yesterday he posted on the TalkTalk blog, promising to "battle against these oppressive proposals". He went on to re-emphasise TalkTalk's pledges to its customers:

"Unless we are served with a court order we will never surrender a customer's details to rightsholders. We are the only major ISP to have taken this stance and we will maintain it. If we are instructed to disconnect an account due to alleged copyright infringement we will refuse to do so and tell the rightsholders we'll see them in court."

Much of the more controversial parts of the bill have been included in response to lobbying from the BPI. After the bill was pushed through, chairman Tony Wadsworth said: "...we have got the law to recognise that internet service providers, who have benefited so much from creative content on the web, have a joint responsibility to ensure creators' rights are protected."

There is an idealogical dispute here concerning whether ISPs are merely the providers of access to the Internet or whether they should also police the net and censor it when called-upon to do so. TalkTalk and the BPI have been clashing for some time on this matter.

A more light-hearted riposte from TalkTalk, via its dontdisconnect.us campaigning site, is a reminder that the BPI has been objecting to technology that gives people the ability to share music for some time. Back in the 80s the BPI lauched its "Home taping is killing music" campaign, implying the music industry would die unless people were prevented from making tapes. They weren't and it didn't.


HEXUS Forums :: 14 Comments

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wow this coming from talk talk? anyone who can help is welcome. i'll be writing to my MP using 38 degree's form. also joining their campaign
if anyone else knows how else to vote against this i'm in!
My view of that is that it is mere PR puff.

It's great taking a ‘principled’ stand …. especially when it could be argued that you have a vest interest in doing it, as one of the ISPs that will have to comply.

I especially liked this bit ….
Unless we are served with a court order we will never surrender a customer's details to rightsholders.
As I read the DE Bill, and the accompanying notes, the Bill does not require ISPS to, unless there's a court order.

It's explicitly foreseen by the Bill that a court order will be necessary, and besides, under Data Protection legislation, it's needed anyway, and such a court order is after a fair bit of a lengthy process has been completed anyway.

As I understand it, the rights holder would lodge a complaint about abuse from a given IP address and, after due investigation by the ISP, they (the ISP, not the rights holder) send an ‘information’ letter to the account holder, precisely for those situations such as when someone is unaware of unauthorised access, or when a shared account is being misused by a sharer, or perhaps a child. If further reports are received, a follow-up letter would be sent. At this point, the rights holder will not have any access to customer details. If this process continues and continued reports are received, the rights holder can acquire a summary of log entries by IP address from the ISP, and still no account details have been disclosed. Eventually, if a given IP shows a serious and consistent pattern of abuse despite warnings, then and only then can the rights holder go to the court and ask for account details, and if and only if the court is satisfied that it is justified will the ISP be required to provide details. It is not, as regularly portrayed, simply that the ISP is expected to stump up account information when a rights holder shows a file has been downloaded, and as far as I can tell, the Bill (or Act as it shortly will be) has never envisaged TalkTalk or any ISP having to hand over account details without a court order.

So it seems to me rather to be hot air for them to leap on their moral high horse about not handing over details without a court order, because they wouldn't be required to do so, Bill passed or not. It's good PR to be seen to be “defending customers”, though. ;)

Moreover, I wonder just how they're going to “fight”. If it's the law of the land, and if a court says "provide account names" they're going to be in very deep poop with the court if they then refuse to comply with the order of the court. I wonder what the view through their cell windows will be like? :D

So, like I say, I see it as just so much PR hot air, and posturing.
I note that he vows to fight this “until after the election”, yet fails to mention that no such notices will not appear until 2012 at the earliest. Just PR spin.:juggle:
02 are getting in on the act too

Meaningful or not - I'm glad companies as well as individuals are protesting the bill.

The bill itself is criminally ill-thought out - proposing an unelected Lord - like Mandelson to have censorship powers… :censored:

I don't get why politicians get all in a lather about the EU and then do the “unelected foreign” media owners bidding (ok they're not all foreign - but the vast majority!)

If Murdoch and News International want to charge for “news” - let them…
If the Record labels want to prevent all sharing - great…
If they beleive they'll get more long-term music fans from X-factor - fine…
They'll fail and disappear - just don't blame everone else for your own stupidity!

I guess the only thing we have to greatful for is that they haven't paid the MPs to introduce another tax to subsidise their incompetence…
Can we write all our purchases off as expenses? :O_o1:

How is downloading any worse than then stealing from the state.