Digital Economy Act On Trial
23rd March 2011 21:15 | by Will Tovey
This is one of a set of posts detailing the main arguments made in Court during the Judicial Review of the Digital Economy Act - R (on the application of BT and TalkTalk) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. This post covers the first day. A summary of day three can be found here, and day four here.
Today the Digital Economy Act was put on trial. Lawyers from BT and TalkTalk (with submissions from Consumer Focus and the ORG) went to the High Court to argue that sections 3 to 18 of the Act (concerning online infringement of copyright) were illegal and should be struck out. Present to defend the Act were a legal team from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and lawyers representing certain parts of the copyright industry (including PACT and the BPI).
The arguments presented during the day (on behalf of the ISPs) suggested that the Act was in conflict with various aspects of European Union Law, including the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive 98/34/EC (which requires that the government give the European Commission notification before creating any potential technical barriers for trade in the EU), the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC (which gives ISPs some protection from liability for their users' actions under the "mere conduit" principle), the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive 2002/58/EC (which involves various data protection and handling issues) and the Authorisation Directive 2002/20/EC.
While, on the whole, the arguments were all particularly technical (from a legal point of view), discussing the finer points of European Law (and in some cases, having to examine the wording in other languages), of particular note was a discussion of whether or not an IP address alone counts as "personal data" (bringing it under the protection of data protection legislation). It will be interesting to see if a definitive answer on this question emerges from the case.
The trial will resume tomorrow, with further submissions from the ISPs, and some counter-arguments from the defence, and the final submissions will be heard on Friday. For more up to date coverage, follow the #deajr tag on Twitter.