Hunt Asks Ofcom To Review Digital Economy Act

Media regulator Ofcom will review certain sections of the Digital Economy Act (DEA) to see if they are “workable”, the government has announced.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked the regulator to analyse whether the Act’s controversial reserve powers to enable courts to block copyright infringing sites are feasible. According to the government, secondary legislation will have to be introduced if site-blocking measures are brought in.

“The Digital Economy Act seeks to protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400m a year,” Hunt said.

“I have no problem with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content. But it is not clear whether the site blocking provisions in the Act could work in practice so I have asked Ofcom to address this question.”

“Before we consider introducing site-blocking we need to know whether these measures are possible,” he added.

The move has come in response to ideas submitted to the Your Freedom site, which asked the public to suggest laws they would like to see abolished.

“When we launched Your Freedom, I promised that the ideas submitted would be given proper consideration,” said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Although DEA reform was not part of the Coalition Agreement, he said, the government will still assess whether it has the right tools to address the problem of online copyright infringement.

“Ofcom will start this process by reviewing the site blocking provisions to see if they are workable. We will await the conclusions of this work before we take a decision about the way forward,” Clegg added.