Ofcom to review Digital Economy Act

Ofcom will review some parts of the much criticised Digital Economy Act, which was rushed through parliament by the previous Labour government before the general election in May, to see if they are feasible, the UK government has confirmed.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked the communications regulator to assess whether the Act’s reserve powers to enable courts to block websites dedicated to copyright infringement could work.

The Act seeks to protect the creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400 million (€464m) a year, Hunt said.

“I have no problem with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content. But it is not clear whether the site blocking provisions in the Act could work in practice so I have asked Ofcom to address this question. Before we consider introducing site-blocking we need to know whether these measures are possible,” Hunt said in a statement.

In November, Internet services providers BT and TalkTalk Telecom were granted a judicial review of the Act.

As well as having procedural concerns, BT and TalkTalk say they believe the measures proposed to try to prevent online copyright infringement could harm citizens as well as impact both companies. As a result, they were seeking clarity from the High Court before they, and others, are asked to implement the Act.

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