Pervasive WiFi and the Digital Economy Act

digital economy bill, just one more question

As Lt. Columbo would say “Just one more thing…”

The Digital Economy Bill – now Act – makes the owner of a connection responsible for any dodgy downloads on that connection. This could not only effect those whose WiFi has been “borrowed” by a neighbour or house-mate, or  hijacked for the purpose (eg. your WiFi at home being cracked and used by someone from the outside) but also offices, cafés and other publicly accessible systems also becoming responsible for the unknown doings of their employee’s, casual visitors and passing trade, who would be using temporary dynamic IP addresses.

Could that burden of responsibility therefore also apply to councils such as Swindon and Oldham who aim to provide provide W-iFi connections to its citizens and those passing through who temporarily take advantage of the free connection? All of whom would be disconnected when the devices are turned off and their IP addresses recycled?[1. When you connect a new computer or I-Thing to your network at home – the router/access point automatically hands out an IP address to the device, which is returned to the pool when the device is unplugged.]

I don’t know – and I suspect nobody does but it’s certainly something to think about. Something that those supposedly scrutinising the Digital Economy Bill and voting it through should have considered.

We are promised another look after the election and it will be fixed then – but seriously, you think? Its already law innit.
The only credible solution is to admit the fault and start again. So far the only ones willing to look at this remedy are the Lib-Dems:[pullquote] Nick Clegg has said “The only way to improve bad law is to take it off the statute book and replace it with something better”[/pullquote]  “We managed to get measures like account suspension delayed for a year, so there is still time to repeal technical measures that won’t work and put in place laws to tackle these issues in a fair and appropriate way.” In a meeting with students (who are likely to be effected by this due living in shared accommodation with shared internet etc.)  and added ” it badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited”.

Given that it is not practical or desirable to issue everyone with a static address (ISP’s don’t do it because of the vast number of subscribers: you can get one if you need it say for business purposes and pay for the facility). In addition it would probably be wrong from a human-rights angle to monitor users and track their computer use in an attributable manner – like electronically tagging us pre-crime[2. pre-crime see Minority Report] “just in case we become criminals” would be at the very least unacceptable snoopery.

If we are so concerned about compensating content creators for alleged piracy why not a tiny levy (let’s call it – umm… a “broadband tax”) similar to the addition that exists on Blank DVD’s (those specifically labelled as for music recording) and tapes as done in some countries.