Will the ConDem coalition kill the DE Act?

The appointment of Vince Cable as the UK's new business secretary throws the future of the controversial Digital Economy Act into doubt.

As the country awoke this morning to the news that it has a coalition government for the first time since World War II, it also emerged that Cable, the Liberal Democrats' former Chancellor hopeful, has been made Secretary of State for Business, Skills and Innovation.

This is one of the Cabinet seats formerly occupied by Lord Mandelson, the mastermind behind the Digital Economy Act, which created new powers to fight Internet piracy.

While the Act was panned for tilting the balance of power online away from users and ISPs, some of its most controversial details – such as the provisions on disconnecting persistent pirates – were left to secondary legislation to be drawn up by the Secretary of State and Ofcom.

The Lib Dems were the only major party to vote against the Act when it passed last month, and newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg spoke openly during the election campaign about repealing it.

We doubt that the future of the Act would have been a priority in the talks that led to the creation of the new Conservative-led coalition, but with Cable now at the reins, it's far from certain that the DE Act's powers will be handled in the way Mandelson imagined.