TalkTalk: DEA will punish the innocent

TalkTalk: DEA will punish the innocent
The internet, always causing problems

TalkTalk has spoken out about why it is continuing to pursue appeals against the Digital Economy Act, saying that the mooted laws will punish innocent subscribers.

Speaking at a Westminster eForum to discuss the issues around implementing the Act that TechRadar attended, Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk described the DEA as an indiscriminate dragnet.

He told delegates, "We're not saying that piracy is okay – we're not even saying don't send out notification letters.

"What we are saying is that the Digital Economy Act is grossly unfair, which is why we'll continue to fight against it during the current judicial review and in the future.

"The key problem is that the way the DEA works is that it's an indiscriminate dragnet and the attempt to deter infringers will catch and punish innocent subscribers.

Piracy party

He went on to explain that the user whose name is on the broadband account is the one who will be targeted by notification letters and possible legal action regardless of whether they were the one to download pirated content or not.

"If someone else does something wrong, I shouldn't be punished," he added.

The appeals process is also flawed, in TalkTalk's view. Users who receive notification letters and are put on the database of repeat offenders can appeal if they feel they've been wrongly accused – but it'll cost you £20 to do so.

Heaney added, "I don't think it's a fair appeals process as it starts from the basis that you're guilty unless you can prove your innocence. How can I prove it wasn't me that downloaded that track on a specific date? Nobody's given any thought at all to how a subscriber could prove it wasn't them and that presumption of guilt is very difficult to overcome.

"In reality it's not quite as bad, but this process put forward by the DEA puts into law something that's little better than the bullying and intimidation done by ACS:Law."

ACS:Law faced legal action and was put out of business after notification letters it sent to illegal file sharers were seen to bully suspects into paying compensation to the firm to avoid the risk of going to court.

Legal wrangling over the validity of the Digital Economy Act, including challenges from TalkTalk, BT and the Liberal Democrats, is ongoing.

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.