TalkTalk threatens legal action over UK Government plans

British ISP TalkTalk has threatened legal action over Lord Mandelson's plan for a three-strike policy against file-sharers. The second largest ISP in the UK believes the plan constitutes an infringement of human rights as the plan is "based on the principle of guilty until proven innocent".

BT, the largest ISP in the UK said that it "remains concerned" about the plans and is "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".

TalkTalk are major opponents to the plans, with the company demonstrating in a stunt earlier this month how unsecured wi-fi connections could be used to download music illegally while placing the blame at someone else's door.

"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."

According to the Guardian, the plans will initially focus on simply sending warning letters to suspected offenders. However, if a 70% reduction is not achieved by July 2011, the plans will move to the second stage - suspending the accounts of suspected offenders after two warnings. Although disconnected users would be able to appeal, it does not appear that the accusations would have to be proved in a court of law.

"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."

Head of telecoms law at legal firm CMS Cameron McKenna, Chris Watson said that appealing a decision would be "very different to the legal safeguards that normally apply to the determination of the infringement of intellectual property rights and it may be incompatible with the European convention on human rights".

However, Tony Ballard, a partner at media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis, believes it is not a breach of human rights.

He added, "This issue over whether removing someone's internet access breaches some fundamental right has been quite clearly settled by the European court of justice. 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.

"The key questions are going to be around how the ISPs will manage the burden of proof, who is going to be responsible for the final decision to deny someone access to the internet and how that denial can be challenged in court."

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Suddenly I don't mind Talk Talk buying out my ISP quite so much.

I am not a supporter of piracy and the like, but these plans are ridiculous. They talk about making internet access a 'right' and in the next breath this is suggested.

How about they start crushing the cars of dangerous and drunk drivers..

Laura said,
How about they start crushing the cars of dangerous and drunk drivers..


No, this is more like taking away a drivers license after seeing that persons car speeding three times, sending them a letter saying "we saw you speeding", and without even seeing that person even in the car.

TalkTalk are major opponents to the plans, with the company demonstrating in a stunt earlier this month how unsecured wi-fi connections could be used to download music illegally while placing the blame at someone else's door.


loving it so much <3

Good for TalkTalk... I think this needs more opposition. The laws they are proposing over there are not a good sign of things to come...

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."

Can certainly see why they're taking that stance... what would happen if some individual/company/organization told your neighbor to assault you? And if they did, who would you, law enforcement, & the justice system pursue? Almost certainly not those who told your neighbor to act in the first place.

Here in the US several companies/corporations are under fire, facing all sorts of litigation, fines, legislation etc, not to mention a PR nightmare, all because they did what the government asked them to as part of the government's fight against terrorism.

1) The gov itself is always protected, so involved companies & individuals are the only available targets.
2) Many feel that legally, if those behind such requests lack the necessary authority to make the requests in the first place, those who complied are at fault.
3) Even if an individual &/or company legally acts on behalf of a government, they do not get/have government status... they are responsible for obeying all the same laws & regulations whether they're acting for the gov or not.

Essentially it boils down to when/if the gov requires you to do something that otherwise would be against the law, can you protect yourself from the consequences? Putting a nice PR spin on it makes the best of a bad situation.

Why not just punish people with a fine if there's enough evidence? It's a crime being committed after all.

They obviously don't have proper evidence or they wouldn't be resorting to "guilty" verdicts so easily.

A judicial process for civil copyright misdemeanours already exists, however abhorrent it may be for the copyright cartels to admit. We only have to look to the RIAA in america, and the abject failure of its law suit campaign to see that the BPI/IFPI doesn't want the same bad publicity, counter-lawsuits, and costs associated with proving guilt in a court of law, for it's much easier to declare them "guilty until proven innocent" than allowing them due process. This is nothing more than the circumvention of the law and of basic human rights.

I was cut off by Karoo and got in touch with the publisher of the offending material and received an apology from them as it was not what they thought, the file name was the same but the only way to get my connection back was to apologize for doing something I did not do. Go monopoly GO

plan constitutes an infringement of human rights as the plan is "based on the principle of guilty until proven innocent

Well said, UK government don't give a flick about human rights in Britain or to the fact around the world.

Queen Mandleson should go live in San Fransisco and be a biartch there.

Ohh yes but, if you were the right school tie, then you have rights.

"However, Tony Ballard, a partner at media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis, believes it is not a breach of human rights."

and ofcourse he doesn't ....

And then he refers to a case where the person was proven to be breaching the law .... rather than suspected which is completely different.

70% reduction by July 2010, a 70% reduction in what, file sharing? Never happen.

So basically what that is saying is, we will move onto Step 2, but dressed up as if to say, we're gonna give you a chance?

Perhaps they will see a 70% reduction in visible file-sharing, that is, because most users will turn to rapidshare, streaming, irc, usenet, encryption etc. All the government is doing is sending sharers underground where the RIAA/MPAA can't touch them. And good luck trying to stop that

Slightly OT, but worth mentioning all the same.

Karoo could learn a thing or too from these guys. This (and worse) was Karoos official policy until recently.

Karoo are the ONLY ISP to serve Hull and Beverley, in the East Riding, Yorkshire. There are no BT lines there. They do what they like and have only just stopped getting away with it, after a huge media backlash.

You're right, karoo are one of the worst for taking unilateral decisions, and because they're effectively a monopoly, they get away with almost anything. I know from experience, as I used their internet services briefly while staying in hull.

And the reason no other competition enters the area is because kingston communications charges exorbitant rental fees, making the rental of their lines financially unviable.

As the person who is responsible for Karoo I changed the process when I discovered it and decided that it was wrong.
I would appreciate it if you have any concerns with the Karoo service if you would be kind enough to contact me to see how we can put things right.
You can mail me on nick.thompson@kcom.com.
It is disappointing when I read inaccurate comments like those from Penguin, and would prefer to understand where people see there are problems and then try to put them right.
We already know that we have far wider ADSL2+ coverage in Hull and the East Riding than any other area of the country and that on average we provide the UK's fastest broadband service. I want to ensure we provide a service that matches those achievements. So please feel free to contact me with details of your concerns.

Thank you

Disconnecting someone for proven illegal activity is fine; but arbitrarily meting out punishment without having given that person their legal right to being assumed innocent until proven otherwise in court, most certainly IS a breach of their rights.

Disconnecting a household's internet connection for sharing a few songs is proportional you say? I say it's downright disproportional, and yet another sign of the uk government's acquiescence to big business.