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Digital Economy Bill

I think by now everyone knows that the Labour Gov passed a Digital Economy bill just before the election regarding illegal downloading - Ofcom have this week released more details on how this will be enforced.

Latest News

This will not come into operation until next year however business owners should be now thinking about if there wireless connections are protected to prevent people connecting into your business network and downloading illegal files for which you will be responsible.

If you need any advise on this don't hesitate to contact us.

Pamela
www.alchtech.co.uk
Business to Business IT Support you can rely on.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Pamela,

Thanks for posting this. I share your misgivings about the many aspects of the Digital Economy Act (by the way, it's an Act now, not a Bill).

In your post, you suggested that a business operating a wireless network could be held responsible if intruders use it to download illegal files. Are you sure about that?

I know there was a case in Germany recently where a couple were fined after a neighbour had hijacked their wi-fi to get internet access to download illegal material - even though the couple knew nothing about it and were away on holiday at the time.

But several knowledgeable people have said that couldn't happen here, even under the new act, which doesn't provide for liability in those cases.

What's your understanding of the situation? Is perhaps the situation different for firms that operate public wi-fi networks, like coffee shops and hotels, as opposed to those who fail to keep a private network secure?

Mike
 
Hi Mike,

You are quite right it is of course now an Act - I just got so used to calling it the DEB!

To be honest I don't think many people really know how this is going to work - my understanding is that if you have an open Wi-Fi connection (wither this is a deliberate open public connection or someone who has failed to protect their broadband with passwords) and someone connects onto your network then the subscriber will be held responsible. This can effect home & business networks which are not password protected and open Wi-Fi public networks.

With regards to hacking onto your network that may be different - I would suspect that you would have to be able to prove that your network had been hacked.

But in truth I think we will all have to wait and see what happens the first time these situations occur.

This is only my understanding of how it will work!:confused:

Pamela
www.alchtech.co.uk
Business to Business IT Support you can rely on.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Thanks for that, Pamela. I agree we'll have to see what happens. I suspect the German case was widely reported here more to show how unreasonable their law is, rather than anything else.

Mike
 
stugster

stugster

New Member
This is a very interesting one, and one we take a lot of notice of (because we're so heavily involved in securing wifi in Edinburgh).

The stats we generated for the Evening News (they chose not to use them, so stuff them, here they are),showed the following in terms of unsecure wireless networks:

We scanned only in the Edinburgh area.
We scanned a total of 5528 network access points. We removed obvious businesses, open hot-spots, etc. So we can safely assume it’s almost all home-users.
Out of those networks, 614 were completely open (4914 being secure).

Now, the question about liability remains. If we assume the network is left open without security, it's possibly going to be the connection owner that is liable for the content. Having said that, it could be construed that I never gave permission for them to connect to the network, even though it's not protected, and therefore it was an unauthorised access and theft.

There have been cases previously where people have been arrested for accessing an open network without permission; whether they've been convicted I have no idea.

There was an interesting case in America (read it here: Man mistakenly suspected of child porn | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun ) which showed that at least the Police deemed that the owner wasn't liable.

Having said it, I think we know where OfCom stand on the matter:

"For the purpose of the new anti-filesharing laws, anyone who offers community Wi-Fi services is still deemed a single internet subscriber, Ofcom reports.

And as such, they will be responsible for online activities taking place via their wireless connection. So if a user is caught illegal filesharing, the Wi-Fi provider will be held to account by their ISP."
Top 10 Broadband » News » Ofcom warns of community wireless broadband dangers
 
L

Lanarkshire IT Services

New Member
Having said that, it could be construed that I never gave permission for them to connect to the network, even though it's not protected, and therefore it was an unauthorised access and theft.
Good point

Is a bit like someone who accesses a network as a member of the "Everyone" NTFS / Share permission group.

It did say "Everyone"!

Regards
 
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