Thursday, October 29, 2009

Talk Talk shout shout at Mandelson

That didn't take long, did it? Less than 24 hours after Mandelson had grimly announced his intention to allow the intellectual property industry to have people thrown off the internet, and the plan is already heading for court. Talk Talk are threatening legal action:

"The approach is based on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court," said Andrew Heaney, the executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk. "We know this approach will lead to wrongful accusations."

"If the government moves to stage two we would consider that extra-judicial technical measures and would look to appeal the decision [to the courts] because it infringes human rights," Heaney said. "TalkTalk will continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers unless directed to do so by a court or recognised tribunal."

BT has been less strident, but aren't exactly delighted, either, saying they are:
"interested to hear whether or not customers will have some form of fair legal hearing before their broadband supplier is required to take any action against them".

One lawyer claims that there is no human rights worry about Mandy's plans:
Tony Ballard, partner at media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said that Mandelson's plan to suspend internet connections did not breach human rights regulations.

"This issue over whether removing someone's internet access breaches some fundamental right has been quite clearly settled by the European court of justice," Ballard added. "It ruled in a Spanish filesharing case last year that a user's fundamental rights are not absolute but have to be weighed against the rights of others, including copyright owners."

Maybe - although the same court has ruled that ISPs can't be compelled to hand over details of customers in file-sharing cases, too. Let's just pause a moment, though, and consider a lawyer saying that somebody's fundamental rights are not absolute. It's not clear if absolute rights would be fundamental.
Ballard said that it is for the "individual states and their courts to hold the balance". He added that Mandelson clearly had an eye on France where a tough "three strikes" cut-off policy has been implemented and approved by the French legislature.

Yes, Mr. Ballard - although you seem to have got confused along the line; the tough legislation was dumped, and replaced with a watered-down version because, erm, the original plan was considered too much of an infringement of human rights.