UK to Kill Open Public WiFi?

Some hot-headed and a bit out-of-touch lawmakers in the United Kingdom are trying to pass a bill that will effectively kill all open WiFi spots in the country.

In an effort to stop downloads of copyrighted content, file sharing and other illegal activity, the Digital Economy bill aims to hold open hot spot owners as responsible to any online activity that happens on their network. The law will not exempt universities, libraries and small businesses – which will probably mean the end of open, public, WiFi in the UK, because no one would want to take the risk.

Why shouldn’t libraries, for example, be exempt from this law? The bill makers explain:

“We have considered the extent to which an exemption might be provided in the legislation. We cannot give blanket exemptions for any such establishment. 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. Similarly existing establishments might simply ignore the issue of copyright infringement (or treat as “too difficult”) and allow users to infringe copyright with effective immunity”.

Naturally, this bill will make internet access more expensive and more limited – even for honest people who have never downloaded anything copyrighted. The solution for copyright problems isn’t in technology – it’s in pricing, greed and education.

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