around the world, many people enjoy free, open Wi-Fi at internet cafe
and other widely used public destinations. In Britain, that
sight may vanish, though, if a broad piracy bill passes Britain's
legislative body. The new Digital Economy Bill, a
piece of copyright crackdown legislation, would hold owners of open
Wi-Fi connections in Britain liable
for any form of copyright infringement conducted on their
networks. There would be zero exceptions for individuals,
businesses, public locations, libraries, universities, or small
businesses.That could essentially kill the popular open Wi-Fi
movement by making it too dangerous to businesses and universities to
offer open services to their customers. Lilian Edwards,
professor of internet law at Sheffield University states, "[The
bill could] outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses. This is
going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses,
particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi
very effectively as a way to get the punters in."The
solution might seem simple; just close the connection, right?
If only it were that easy. According to the bill, those
with closed connections
have to maintain logs of every customer they give access to -- or
hire someone to remote monitor users for them. Describes
Professor Edwards, "Even if they password protect, they then
have two options — to pay someone like The Cloud to manage it for
them, or take responsibility themselves for becoming an ISP
effectively, and keep records for everyone they assign connections
to, which is an impossible burden for a small café."Lord
Young, a bureaucrat working with Britain's Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills (BIS) defends the bill. He claims
business exemptions would lead to individuals creating "fake"
organizations to dodge copyright infringement charges. In
document (.DOC) he writes, "This would send entirely
the wrong signal and could lead to 'fake' organisations being set up,
claiming an exemption and becoming a hub for copyright
infringement."He argues that universities also deserve
no exceptions because a handful already have systems to log users and
it would be unfair to "force" them to adopt an open system,
common at many other universities. In other words, he argues that the
needs of the few, in this case, outweigh the needs of the many.
He writes, "It does not seem sensible to force those
universities who already have a system providing very effective
action against copyright infringement to abandon it and replace it
with an alternative."The bill is rather vague about
whether large networks like universities would be reclassified as
internet service providers (ISPs). If they get reclassified,
that could add some big expenses for them, as they will be forced to
hoard data on their users.That data would be used to
implement the bill's most costly and controversial provision --
strikes policy for infringement. Users downloading
apparently infringed content would get two warnings and then have
their connections severed.The bill is currently under debate
in Britain's House of Lords, which is preparing a version to be
proposed as legislation. Opinion polls have shown the British
public to be opposed to the bill. The bill is also opposed by
ISPs and law enforcement, university, and civil rights groups.
The bill does enjoy healthy support from Britain's film and music
industry -- about it's only major proponent. Fortunately for
them, they have deep ties to some British politicians and have spent
a great deal of money lobbying to give their opinions a larger voice
than those of the public.The legislation may cost British
USD, according to recent estimates. However, the media
industry thinks it will earn an additional £1.7B ($2.72B USD),
and the government hopes that raised earnings will lead to more
taxes.Unfortunately, that may come at the expense of small
businesses, freely available internet, and its citizens' right to
privacy. Some in Britain's government feel that's a small price
to pay though to fight the evils of piracy.Despite the
problematic bill, British citizens shouldn't feel entirely bad.
In recent discussions
about the international piracy pact ACTA, Britain was one of the
most vocal supporters of making the pact's provisions known to the
public. The U.S. and Denmark were in the minority who had
"major concerns" about the bill being made public. In
the end, the objections of the UK-led majority would overruled by the
U.S. and Denmark-led minority and the terms of the bill were kept
secret (though they were eventually leaked).
quote: However, the media industry thinks it will earn an additional £1.7B ($2.72B USD)
quote: Sounds like they are picking numbers from thin air again...
quote: I imagine one day someone is going to receive a text that says "its nukclur war! were all gonna die!" and the response is going to be "Learn grammar and spelling please, because it's 'It's nuclear war! We're all going to die!'...dumb ass."
quote: The problem is that the British have no balls anymore
quote: Despite the problematic bill, British citizens shouldn't feel entirely bad. In recent discussions about the international piracy pact ACTA, Britain was one of the most vocal supporters of making the pact's provisions known to the public.
quote: Opinion polls have shown the British public to be opposed to the bill. The bill is also opposed by ISPs and law enforcement, university, and civil rights groups. The bill does enjoy healthy support from Britain's film and music industry -- about it's only major proponent.
quote: The bill is currently under debate in Britain's House of Lords