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Pirates Set to Invade UK Coffee Shops
Public Wi-Fi Providers not Legally Responsible For Illegal Downloads, Ofcom Says
by JKukiewicz 08:21AM Friday Nov 30 2012
In Holland, semi-legalizing cannabis led to a flourishing trade in spliff dealing ‘coffee’ shops; in the UK, the communications regulator, Ofcom, may have given a similar boost to small businesses last week when it clarified the UK’s nascent law on illegal downloads. In around a year, give or take a few months of delays, UK ISPs will start sending out letters to individual subscribers they have identified as engaging in illegal downloading.

As well as irritating home users, many of whom point out that nuisance suits bought by firms such as ACS: Law have already highlighted the weakness of this method of identification, the new rule has worried providers of public Wi-Fi connections. Could a coffee shop, for example, be liable to a fine if their network is used by a customer to download illegal material?

Until now the answer has been unclear but - speaking at a recent Westminster Forum event - Justin Le Patourel, Head of Online Copyright at the regulator cleared things up.

"A library or a cafe which can demonstrate that it receives an internet service predominantly for the purpose of making it available to customers” shouldn’t be liable, Le Patourel said (full comments here). Not only can small businesses breath a sigh of relief, then, they can cheer: they could soon be overrun by torrent addicted customers happy to finally be able to air their hobby cum habit freely in public.

Umm… is this illegal?


That might be particularly true since, according research released by Ofcom recently, many Britons have very little idea what constitutes an illegal online activity. Of those surveyed, 26% said they could reduce the amount of illegal content they consumed if it was clearer what is actually legal and what is outlawed.

Confusion notwithstanding, the same research estimated that around one in six UK internet users had accessed illegal content at least once in the three
months studied.

Further helping the coffee shops' cause, the research revealed that
22% of those surveyed said that the threat of a letter suspending internet access would discourage them from accessing illegal – and presumably, for some, merely questionable - content at home.

ISPs must rule on responsibility


In what is becoming the very long history of the Digital Economy Bill, however, second guessing how the rules will actually be implemented is a mug’s game.

Although Ofcom strongly advised in the recent speech that providers of public wi-fi like cafes, libraries and shops should be considered communications providers under the terms of the act rather than subscribers, like individuals who can be sent letters of liability, it also stressed that the ultimate decision on this was not theirs but the ISPs’.

It will be up to the ISPs to decide whether the connection is being used for public wi-fi and is, therefore, not liable.

On the face of it, there is little reason for ISPs to disagree with the Ofcom assessment in this regard so the café happy judgement stands.

However, I can see one possible conflict of interest. Small businesses such as coffee shops often use home broadband connections to supply their patrons and liability under these connections’ terms and conditions is fairly black and white.

Just take a look at O2 broadband’s policy: “You’re responsible for all use of the Services… whether an unacceptable use occurs or is attempted, whether you knew or should have known about it, whether or not you carried out or attempted the unacceptable use alone, contributed to or acted with others or allowed any unacceptable use to occur by omission.” That seems to cover just about everything.

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tommmyboy

@comcast.net

anon mobile broadband

as ,mobile broadband gets cheaper and caps bigger we could see a lot of people in countries around the world drop wired broadband for mobile. not necessarily for price or mobility but for anonymity. in nearly every country there are at least a few option for mobile service without needing to identify ones self.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Terms and Conditions

"However, I can see one possible conflict of interests. Smalls businesses such as coffee shops often use home broadband connections to supply their patrons and liability under these connections’ terms and conditions is fairly black and white.

Just take a look at O2 broadband’s policy: “You’re responsible for all use of the Services… whether an unacceptable use occurs or is attempted, whether you knew or should have known about it, whether or not you carried out or attempted the unacceptable use alone, contributed to or acted with others or allowed any unacceptable use to occur by omission.” That seems to cover just about everything. "


They can say whatever they want in there, that does not make it written in stone. If the law says they are not liable as a public wifi provider to their consumers, then they are not liable regardless of what the ISP says.

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Re: Terms and Conditions

said by Skippy25:

"However, I can see one possible conflict of interests. Smalls businesses such as coffee shops often use home broadband connections to supply their patrons and liability under these connections’ terms and conditions is fairly black and white.

Just take a look at O2 broadband’s policy: “You’re responsible for all use of the Services… whether an unacceptable use occurs or is attempted, whether you knew or should have known about it, whether or not you carried out or attempted the unacceptable use alone, contributed to or acted with others or allowed any unacceptable use to occur by omission.” That seems to cover just about everything. "


They can say whatever they want in there, that does not make it written in stone. If the law says they are not liable as a public wifi provider to their consumers, then they are not liable regardless of what the ISP says.

OTOH: If the business is paying for a home not a business connection (as noted) the ISP while it can not go after them due to being a WiFi provider can still pull their connection if they do not upgrade to a business connection. That TOS does not allow for using "It was done via WiFi" exemption. Only a business connection would allow for WiFi provision to customers.
rradina

join:2000-08-08
Chesterfield, MO

This Crap Is Ridiculous

I don't agree with piracy but it's insane for victims to seek satisfaction from anyone but the person who actually made them a victim.

Public transportation enables crooks to travel from point A to point B, commit a crime and then return with the loot. Is public transportation being held responsible?

The telephone system can be used to make illegal gambling bets, has it been held responsible for enabling the crime?

The mail system can be used to send instructions and money to someone who them commits a crime. Is the mail system held responsible?

Electricity can be used to power the drill that puts a hole in the safe (I know -- classic Hollywood scene) and rob the bank. Is the electric company held responsible?

IMO the biggest problem is what we do on-line shouldn't be tracked without due process granting "wire tap" permission to record our "conversation". Yes, that includes the Google's of the world that try to profile you. If you want to login to Google first and you agree to be tracked for mutual benefit, fine. Otherwise, what my IP does on-line should not be tracked in any database.

I know such an approach makes it harder to catch the bad elements in our society but it's just insane to try to make the entire system responsible for what folks do with it. If we had more protection of what seems like a reasonable right to privacy, it seems like a lot of this noise would disappear.

Does the post office keep track of every piece of mail to and from your mailbox and sell it to someone that tries to profile you?

I know the phone company tracks calls but that should stop too. There's no need to track phone calls if you have an unlimited plan.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

global crackdown?

it seems these notifications are targeted to be coordinated to Q1-2013...

in the US & UK... probably other countries are set to begin similar 'new world order' laws too..
dra6o0n

join:2011-08-15
Mississauga, ON

Oh really?

"many Britons have very little idea what constitutes an illegal online activity"

Why not apply that to almost every other thing that exists in this world?
JKukiewicz

join:2011-03-29
W1 8RP

Re: Oh really?

You're right, many people don't understand many other laws: it doesn't make them invalid. In addition, if people eventually start being prosecuted under the DEA I suspect a higher proportion will quickly gain a better understanding (!).