New UK Bill Would Ban Open Wi-Fi Hotspots

Justin Kerr

Back in November we found ourselves sympathizing with a UK bar owner who was facing a $13,000 fine for copyright infringement as a result of operating an open hotspot, but little did we know this was only the tip of the iceberg. It was a clear cut case of misplaced accountability , but it looks like the UK government is planning to go one step further to keep this from happening in the future. A new " Digital Economy Bill ", if passed, would ban the use of open Wi-Fi hotspots outright anywhere in the UK. The bill would ultimately make any home or business operating an internet connected router 100 percent accountable for the traffic that passes over it.

Making users accountable for locking down their own connection doesn't sound like a bad idea in principal, but it ultimately closes off opportunities for businesses to offer internet access to the latté sipping masses at the local coffee shop. The bill will require all networks to be secured with a password, and to maintain a log of all users who access it in order to be in compliance with the new law. "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," said Lilian Edwards of Sheffield University.

I'm sure nobody here minds trading up a few more civil liberties in exchange for giving the folks over at the RIAA a good nights sleep do you?

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