BT, TalkTalk challenge three strikes in court

British Telecom and TalkTalk have mounted a legal challenge to the three strikes rule in the UK’s Digital Economy Bill, claiming the provision might hinder the European Commission’s goal of unifying Europe’s telecoms markets.
The operators requested that the UK High Court re-examine all aspects of the bill relating to protection of online copyright to clarify the procedures involved, and whether the rule is in-keeping with the EC’s requirements relating to national law.
Both firms are concerned about the impact on their businesses and are unwilling to invest heavily in the new technology and processes required for rules that prove unenforceable, they said in a joint statement yesterday.
They say the Digital Economy Act wasn’t scrutinized closely enough before being passed into law in April, because it was rushed through parliament before it broke up ahead of a general election.
“Our dispute is not with the current government but with the way the previous administration pushed this through without due process,” Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail said.
TalkTalk chairman Charles Dunstone said the Bill “will cost the UK hundreds of millions,” and that the public were keen to overturn the law.
Regulator Ofcom published a draft code of conduct covering the three strikes rule for ISPs in May, and is working towards implementing the policy in 2011.
To date, only France and Ireland have implemented three strikes policies so-called because ISPs are typically required to give consumers three chances to stop infringing copyright before taking action.
The EC is due to unveil its proposals for unifying Europe’s telecoms markets this month.