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UK Bill Would Outlaw Open Wi-Fi

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the talking-and-listening-are-next dept.

Wireless Networking 250

suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from ZDNet about another troubling aspect of the UK's much-maligned Digital Economy Bill: "The government will not exempt universities, libraries and small businesses providing open Wi-Fi services from its Digital Economy Bill copyright crackdown, according to official advice released earlier this week. This would leave many organizations open to the same penalties for copyright infringement as individual subscribers, potentially including disconnection from the Internet, leading legal experts to say it will become impossible for small businesses and the like to offer Wi-Fi access. '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. Even if they password protect, they then have two options — to pay someone like The Cloud to manage it for them, or take responsibility themselves for becoming an ISP effectively, and keep records for everyone they assign connections to, which is an impossible burden for a small cafe,' said Lilian Edwards, professor of Internet law at Sheffield University." Relatedly, an anonymous reader passes along a post which breaks down the question of whether using unprotected Wi-Fi is stealing.

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UK government do something stupid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305932)

Film at 11, streamed live via. WiFi!

First (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305948)

First post. I've given my credit card details, scan of passport and my fingerprint to the clerk. Can I have WiFi now please?

Re:First (1)

fuckfuck69 (1752326) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306054)

You certainly are incredible. A perfect example of genetics gone wrong. Now go stand in the corner and dribble or do something just as intelligent.

Re:First (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306264)

You lied about the first post, how are we to believe any other information you gave us is truthful?

Re:First (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306866)

how are we to believe any other information you gave us is truthful?

Well, who cares? TFA is just a content-free puff-piece for the author. It doesn't really say anything that we didn't already know, i.e. that businesses, libraries or whatever offering any kind of uncontrolled hotspot are leaving themselves open to investigation or legal action - and that such a typical situation (by virtue of its low bandwidth) is usually incapable of hosting any kind of viable file-sharing operation. Big deal.

Depends (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305950)

It really depends upon how it is that they do it, but at the end of the day open access points aren't any more the cause of infringement than ones that one pays for. At any rate people shouldn't have truly open access points to begin with. I know that with PF you can set things up to redirect to a log in page that has them agree to the rules. You could always require they put some form of identification in which should get you off the hook for making it anonymous. Unless the new requirements would require an ID check. Which I'm sure there's some reasonable way of dealing with.

This is mostly just an excuse to shake people down for their change than actually fight any kind of real problem.

Re:Depends (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306242)

Yes, when I read stupid things like the summary, it makes me want to shit my pants. I love my Depends.

Re:Depends (1, Interesting)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306482)

The article is also bung. The blog post, that is. Using your neighbour's WiFi is stealing, every single one of the vast array of arguments the blogger puts forward is either shallow, misdirected, based on false assumptions, predicated on absurd analogy, plain stupid, or some combination thereof.

If you're on a WiFi that you don't have reasonable grounds to conclude was intended by the owner to be free, then it is stealing. End of story. Now, can we stop it with the absurd excuses? It's even more disingenuous than the proposition that copying movies is not stealing. It is, people just do it anyway. Let's stop retroactively justifying ourselves.

Re:Depends (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306834)

So which *AA do you work for?

Theft is physical removal and denial of use. Copyright infringement is not. This is recognized by law. No amount of insults will make that go away.

Re:Depends (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306914)

I pirate stuff myself. I just don't try to fool myself that it's morally inert. I guess you *could* argue that I wouldn't watch movies if they weren't free (which is probably true in the vast majority of cases).

In any case, we're talking about WiFi. If you use your neighbor's wifi, you deprive him the use of the quota that you used, however little it may be. You're also using a certain percentage of his quota, which you did not pay for.

Don't try to fool yourself with flimsy technicalities in a childish attempt to screw with your moral compass. No amount of post-hoc justification can make a wrong right, it'll just fuck up your moral compass.

Re:Depends (1)

kcitren (72383) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306982)

What's the correct term for Unauthorized Use?

What about open streets? (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306298)

At any rate people shouldn't have truly open access points to begin with

Would you allow us to have open streets, sir, or should we wear tags [wikimedia.org] to identify us while we walk outside?

Re:Depends (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306548)

>>>people shouldn't have truly open access points to begin with.

Why not? If I want to open my kitchen and give away free food, I can. If I want to buy a bunch of blank CDs and hand-out copies of Ubuntu Linux, I can. Why can't I give-away free access to Wi-Fi in my home or restaurant?

No reason I can think of, except to limit free speech/protest and give the government even more control over public policy (i.e. push their one true agenda).

Alex Jones the Nutter was just discussing this on his radio show: http://yp.shoutcast.com/sbin/tunein-station.pls?id=175591 [shoutcast.com] - about how Microsoft, corporations, and government are colluding to silence the people and control what we hear or read.

Re:Depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306848)

Distributing food out of your kitchen? Health department might want to talk to you. No really, you can't just give out food if your kitchen isn't licensed. You're liable to poison people.

Re:Depends (1, Interesting)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306904)

If I want to open my kitchen and give away free food, I can.

As long as you pass a health inspection to make sure you aren't going to kill or make ill any large groups of people.

If I want to buy a bunch of blank CDs and hand-out copies of Ubuntu Linux, I can.

Because the authors allow you to do so.

Why can't I give-away free access to Wi-Fi in my home or restaurant?

You can! Nobody is going to put out a firmware revision that works on all wireless access points that will not allow them to have open access. However if you do chose to provide access as such, know that you are responsible for what happens.

Say you got a land line, and ran an extension phone out to the sidewalk in front of your house for anyone to use. Someone calls a $1.99 per minute pay line, and talks for an hour. Should you not be responsible for the phone bill? If no, why not?

I went to a drinking club once (4, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305952)

Bars were outlawed. The only place that could serve drinks were private clubs.

So I paid a $7 "membership fee" at the door and had a great time. First drink was free!

To paraphrase the philosopher Ian Malcom, "Life finds a way".

Re:I went to a drinking club once (2, Insightful)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306108)

Not really anologous to what TFA is dealing with - at least with booze, you've already paid for it once you're in the club. And there's not much prospect of the Government requiring the club to keep records of all the drinks that punters bought, mainly due to the fact that drinks manufacturers and pub / club chains would a) balk at such regulation of their trade, and b) lobby the Government to water down or drop any such proposal.

-MT.

Re:I went to a drinking club once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306286)

What's going to happen is this:

Law gets passed -> people enable the least common denominator, WEP -> WEP gets easily cracked -> Legitimate users still take the blame, law usurper essentially still invisible.

Re:I went to a drinking club once (1)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306700)

My ISP wrote to us a few years ago, advising us that we should consider improving the security of our home wireless network, specifically to prevent others from gaining access to our connection. They also mentioned the potential for others to gain access to our computers, but the real thrust was to stop others from using our connection to do illegal stuff. Pretty sure that most other ISPs have done similar, as all of the half-dozen wireless networks visible in our neighbourhood are WPA or WPA2 secured.

So, since most home users have secured their wireless networks, it is now the companies and establishments offering public Wi-Fi that are in the crosshairs of copyright holders (and acquiescent politicians)...

-MT.

Re:I went to a drinking club once (1)

jasonq (244142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306658)

Not really anologous to what TFA is dealing with

You did notice his user name didn't you? ;-)

Re:I went to a drinking club once (1)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306870)

You did notice his user name didn't you? ;-)

Hadn't spotted that.

And he has an impressive track-record, apparently.

Ah, to be young again, and have time to waste posting to Slashdot. :D

(I only visit sporadically these days)

-MT.

If they outlaw open wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305954)

Then only outlaws will have open wifi. Lucky bastards.

Re:If they outlaw open wifi (1)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306150)

Unfortunately, the way this and other legislation are being crafted, just about everyone connecting to the Internet in any fashion will be considered an outlaw as far as copyright holders are (apparently) concerned. No luck required at all.

-MT.

Ad-hoc too? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31305958)

What happens when your diners start sharing across an ad-hoc wireless network in your shop? Are you obliged to jam signals?

Re:Ad-hoc too? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306032)

No, that would be illegal. I think the first point here is that the government wants to remove their responsibility for wrongdoings.
More importantly, while I really doubt they would go around disconnecting everyone with open wifi, it gives them a nice
convenient law they can use to harass, arrest, detain and threaten people with. Dont forget every crime in the UK can get you
arrested and as it involves more than one person, you'd probably fall under the SOCA legislation meaning they can detain you
for upto 28 days.

Yes but at least t's not Italiy (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305966)

In Italiy they are full of Mexican anarcho-Islamic professors who know about books that are seditious that sometimes insult our National sensibilities of British meats not mad.

Srsly? (2, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305968)

Yet another case where elected officials aren't really thinking, or they don't understand what they're doing.

1) They think everyone can still have free Wi-Fi in public places, but it'll be "protected."
or
2) Someone's paying them off... Maybe the ISPs since they can swoop in and say, "Hey! Even though you can't offer free (beer) wi-fi, we can help you out! We can set it up so any BT subscriber can use your wi-fi, and that's like X% of the population. That'll be almost as good."

Or, it could just be innocent rampant stupidity.

Re:Srsly? (5, Insightful)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306050)

ISPs hate these proposals even more than we do, since the Government wants them to keep records of Internet traffic for all of their subscribers - that means increased costs to the ISP, which will eventually be passed on to subscribers, meaning fewer subscribers, and possibly even fewer ISPs in the long run as the smaller ones struggle to stay profitable.

As for "protected" WiFi, the protection appears to be mainly against copyright owners having to do any work to prove that someone somewhere has illegally downloaded and/or distributed some of their work.

-MT.

Re:Srsly? (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306368)

The large ISPs that can afford to implement the recording are more than happy... Economies of scale mean they can implement the recording far more cheaply than the smaller players, many of whom will simply go bust leaving the big players to soak up the extra customers.
And when they charge extra for the recording, they don't have to spend all the extra revenue on actually implementing it... Much of that will go to profit.

Re:Srsly? (2, Interesting)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306728)

True. Here in the UK, both British Telecom (BT) and VirginMedia will complain but will be probably be able to shoulder the burden anyway. And, as the Phorm debacle revealed, they are not overly concerned about the privacy of their customers...

-MT.

Re:Srsly? (2, Informative)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306580)

You MIGHT be right in the US, but in the UK the "free" wifi router/modem that comes with your service has a key automatically, which is usually on a sticker on the back of the device. I'm not sure if you can change the default settings but most people just plug them in and turn them on like an appliance. Hence most of the wifi networks I see in the UK have default serial number type ssids that came with their default keys. It is way way easier to find open wifi in America where everyone owns a "netgear" or a "linksys".

Re:Srsly? (1)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306810)

FWIW, I am in the UK. Admittedly, I first set up our wireless network back in late 2002, before ISPs started to support such things. Yes, it had WEP security, but at the time that was the best we had. I changed to a newer router a few year back, and we're now on WPA2.

I've heard about these hardwired ISP-provided routers / modems - wasn't aware that they were so widespread now. I can sort of understand why the ISPs go down this route, but it seems to be saving on customer support at the expense of leaving the customer (and ultimately, the ISP too) liable for accusations of copyright theft.

-MT.

Re:Srsly? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306490)

Yet another case where elected officials aren't really thinking, or they don't understand what they're doing.

Who said anything about elected officials? This bill has been put together by (the unelected) Baron Mandelson (AKA The Prince of Darkness) who is a life peer sitting in the House of Lords, currently First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade and Lord President of the Council. (Never ever confuse the British system of government with democracy as they are two very different things).

Re:Srsly? (2, Informative)

mrphoton (1349555) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306794)

All correct except your use of the word 'elected'. Lord Mandelson who is heading this bill is not elected at all. He is a Lord and that apparently means it is ok for him impose rules on us. Secondly, Brown our prime minister was never elected as prime minister, he just 'took over' after Blair stood down. So in short this is a c**p bill imposed my unelected morons. However, on the up side there will be a general election with in three months, so it will probably never reach the statute books.

Re:Srsly? (3, Insightful)

Grant The Great (562818) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306798)

As a network administrator for a small local ISP I have to say I would absolutely loathe this proposal. I can't even begin to imagine the infrastructure and management nightmare to do something like this at all of our locations.

So OK, you use encryption for your APs, which you then have to give the password out to your customers making the wireless in effect public anyway.

Or do you propose we only use WPA2-EAP? So what, we have to not only manage each account individually, but I assume we have to do personnel verification? We simply could have some sort of web based account creation, but would we be held liable if they forged/stole the information? Do we have to do some sort of credit card authorization to make sure the person is who they say they are or do we have to see their ID personally? This kind of defeats the purpose of wireless in some locales.

And I assume they will want us to log all of the traffic otherwise we'd have to route our public IPs. While in and of itself is not that difficult, most of the time this would be increasingly difficult. Have you priced peering lately? It's not cheap and we're running out of IPs, running NAT at these places is sometimes the only way to bring wireless there. If we can run NAT but have to log the traffic the kind of hardware necessary in order to retain logs for any length of time and keeping it low latency is pretty astronomical and economically infeasible.

So here's a list of services that they will have to run in order to comply with this: Account management/key storage(ldap), Authentication(RADIUS), Account Creation(web whatever), Packet Logging(ntop) OR Peering Connection/Routable IPs, some sort of database for log retention, and an AP capable of handling the processing power for WPA2-EAP/Authentication. Oh plus you'll need someone to implement and administrate it.

Does the government plan on paying for this? While the company I work for has the ability to do this and we do for some locations, doing it everywhere would be a nightmare. Not to mention how ripe for abuse this whole system would be. There's a reason why it's not already done. It's expensive, time consuming, hurts the service, and it's easy to get around.

This is a dumb idea and it won't work. It will put smaller ISPs out of business and even the big ones will have trouble with it. And what do we do about Mom and Pop that don't know how to secure their own wireless? Do they now become liable if someone uses their connection?

The hell happened to common carrier status?

Foerster's razor (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306874)

Or, it could just be innocent rampant stupidity.

With politicians, never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by malice.

Can't set up a secure access point? (0, Flamebait)

John3 (85454) | more than 4 years ago | (#31305986)

As an owner of a small business I can't imagine leaving our WiFi open. In addition to PCI requirements [pcisecuritystandards.org] to protect credit card data it just doesn't make sense to leave your network open. Would a business install a network hub on a wall outside their building? As far as "managing" the wireless network, if the business has nobody that can implement a simple password protection scheme then they probably should not be maintaining their own network in the first place. Odds are they'll wind up with compromised servers spewing spam and malware, and infecting people that hop on to their open wireless network.

Just get out the manual and fix your open access points.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306084)

At my work we have both. a closed mac address limited, use WPA keys to gain access. This dumps traffic right onto the VPN, with it's own inernal DNS severs, and traffic management( some websites are blocked etc)

But we also have an open access unsecured AP that uses the local ISP DNS servers, and never touches the closed network. This is for salesmen to gain internet access when they visit. There is usually range limitation on that point as well. I ofen see this type of setup at places that offer free wifi with their services. One closed network for themselves, and one open one for guests.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306106)

I believe this is about coffe shops and universities, where the network accessible through those APs is completely separate from the "work" network and absolutely intended to be open, for the convinience of the customers and students. Thus, it's got nothing to do with what you said at all.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306188)

Because we all know that coffee shops hide servers behind the counter.... Most of the time the free wi-fi they provide is simply an extra consumer-level connection that goes to a cheap-as-free router, they change the SSD and let people use it. Its no big deal if someone uses it and doesn't buy a coffee either, they pay the same for it if someone drank 1000000 cups of coffee or if someone drank one. Its a good advertising scheme too, traveler is walking downtown sees an open access point for a coffee shop, goes in has a coffee and uses the wi-fi.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306210)

As an owner of a small business I can't imagine leaving our WiFi open.

I've not yet met a single company that keeps their internal network open, but I've met many companies that have an open guest wifi - completely firewalled off, but for visitors and contractors and whatnot that need it. The internal network usually comes with a ton of restrictions and mandatory proxies and whatnot that makes it near impossible to let guests on it without providing them with corporate laptops, which is overkill for say an online demonstration. For example it means I can pull up my company's VPN solution from a client site, something I can't do using their computers, 1) because they don't have the software and 2) because our policy wouldn't allow it.

Even those coffee shops and such that offer wireless against purchase aren't really interested in who you are, just getting some sales. If you pay cash and get a receipt code, that's normally good enough for them. More remote places where it's not practical to "hang out" nearby and leech just won't bother at all, because they get your business anyway. Lots of places just see the convienience as a plus, not a problem. It only becomes a problem if the police come knocking and say "Hey, I think there's been some nasty things going on from this access point". In which case you need a properly recorded ID to get anywhere, a MAC or knowing he bought a cheesemeal won't help you.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (1)

frith01 (1118539) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306248)

If you have a WiFi point that has access to any node which contains credit card data you are risking trouble. There is no reason for a Wi-Fi point of any type to have access to the same network that contains credit card data. You just setup the connections for the wifi point to go out to the web for your customers.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306444)

No one is suggesting that you open your business network up. But you might want to setup a separate, Internet-only connection for customers and visitors that does not require authentication. For some businesses this is not an issue, but if you're a coffee shop/etc. it certainly is, and even businesses that just want to provide easy access Internet for clients/vendors/etc. that might be in their office would now be required to identify and authenticate users, which adds a significant amount of hassle for no good reason.

Re:Can't set up a secure access point? (2, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306470)

Sure. And that's probably how the lobbyists sold it. The problem, at least in the States, is that we no longer seem capable of electing politicians who _think_. The good ones just _deal_ and justify it as the way pragmatic realpolitik works. The bad ones purposefully deal for dollars.

Dark City (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306004)

"shut it down, shut it all down, forever"

Quote from the second link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306016)

In countries where interest access is ridiculously limited such as Australia or in developing countries,

wonder where this guy's from?

Re:Quote from the second link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306098)

Um, New Zealand?

Re:Quote from the second link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306254)

Interest access is limited for geeks world-wide. No interest in you!

Typical government document. (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306122)

> "This seems almost unprecedented to me, for a government document."

This seems quite ordinary to me, for a government document.

Extra! Extra! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306132)

UK outlaws open wifi, mandates WEP for all secure connections!

Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306138)

Open wi-fi should be as legal as me, on my own property giving away things for free. No one would care if I was giving out free water bottles on a hot day, nor would anyone care if I was giving away books for free, but when I'm giving away something in essence unlimited* it becomes bad?

*yes, it does increase bandwidth and would slow down your internet use, but how often is someone going to notice that?

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1)

legio_noctis (1411089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306228)

Especially seeing as what you're doing by providing wifi is essentially wobbling stuff on a very small scale.

(Yes, I know, don't tell me how wrong this is as an explanation of EM radiation.)

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306234)

I'd care if you giving away those free water bottles or books lead to an increase in traffic in my residential neighborhood. Or even just at inconvenient hours of the night.

Believe it or not, what happens on your property can bleed over into mine. Maybe you're a reasonable chap, and will stop doing things when you realize that the things you do bother me...or maybe you're not.

But sometimes across a whole country it helps to have some laws.

So far, you haven't articulated a good reason against this one.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306290)

Because we all know that there are always loads of cars in front of people's houses that have free wi-fi....

It doesn't happen. In fact, one of my neighbors runs a open wi-fi network, I've noticed absolutely no more traffic near their house or in the neighborhood since they started doing it.

As for any interference, it doesn't happen there are a multitude of channels and a nearly infinite amount of SSDs you can use for your own access points.

But sometimes across a whole country it helps to have some laws.

Not when it leads to a loss of liberty.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306464)

Because we all know that there are always loads of cars in front of people's houses that have free wi-fi....

It doesn't happen. In fact, one of my neighbors runs a open wi-fi network, I've noticed absolutely no more traffic near their house or in the neighborhood since they started doing it.

I believe you misunderstand my words. You seem to be focusing on this narrow interpretation, as if it were a strict analogy, as opposed to a broader one, meant to provide an understanding of a particular principle, not simply to create a narrow example. Try perceiving it as "Oh, I see why somebody might have a problem doing that, I can see there's a reason, that there might an impact caused by a decision to give away water" so you can recognize the principle.

To be honest, I've never had a problem with people giving away free water, but I have had problems with people doing things on their property like having a party (perhaps drinks were served there?) or a lot of garage sales. This spread out to impact me. So I support limits on such activity.

Accordingly, I could also be convinced to support not allowing public WiFi access willy nilly. If you want to discuss the reasons there, let's at least find out if we can agree on the principles. If we can't, then what's the point of arguing the particulars?

Not when it leads to a loss of liberty.

Going to have to repeal a lot of laws then. My neighbor will probably like you, he wants the liberty to operate his contracting business out of his backyard. For some reason, I, and the laws of my municipality say no.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (2, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306236)

No one would care if I was giving out free water bottles on a hot day, nor would anyone care if I was giving away books for free, but when I'm giving away something in essence unlimited* it becomes bad?

I 100% agree with you, but I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here.

Once you start handing out child pornography it's bad.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306310)

First you have to realize we have an irrational fear of "ZOMG CP!!!11!!1" secondly, it would actually -help- the real problem (children being abused) to distribute CP for free. Why? Because CP is so restricted people pay a lot of money to the people who are abusing the children which they use to abuse more children. If you can stop them at the source, they have no money, no market and it dries up. But of course, we don't see the rational side of things. If I see a picture of someone dead, or injured do they die again or are injured again? No, it happened once. Same thing with CP.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306712)

First you have to realize we have an irrational fear of "ZOMG CP!!!11!!1" secondly, it would actually -help- the real problem (children being abused) to distribute CP for free. Why? Because CP is so restricted people pay a lot of money to the people who are abusing the children which they use to abuse more children. If you can stop them at the source, they have no money, no market and it dries up. But of course, we don't see the rational side of things. If I see a picture of someone dead, or injured do they die again or are injured again? No, it happened once. Same thing with CP.

The issue is a bit more complicated than that, sorry. You're making the assumption that the people who produce child pornography are doing so for financial reasons, and that if they can't find anyone to buy it, they'll stop abusing children. Somehow I don't think that's true. We're living in the age of YouTube; it's not like producing a video is a prohibitively expensive proposition these days.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (0)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306628)

You have been detected as using a "think of the children" argument or related argument. This message is to inform you that you have summarily lost the argument.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306830)

I used that argument intentionally because that is what the other side is going to argue. Which would explain the "devil's advocate" part of my original comment.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306928)

You have been detected as using a "think of the children" argument or related argument. This message is to inform you that you have summarily lost the argument.

Hey, did you hear that whooshing sound above your head?

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306316)

If you read even just the summary, you'll understand that the correct analogy would be you giving away guns for free without writing down the identity of the people you give them to. If one day there's a murder and the police traces down the gun to you, they'd like to be able to continue following the chain to the last owner, but you kept no record so they can't.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306334)

Because we all know that copyright infringement is the same thing as murder right?

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306708)

We can reduce them to equivalencies, yes. Just ask the golem from Feat of Clay. Or was it Going Postal? I dunno, one of the Terry Pratchett books.

Trite sound-bites don't actually make for good arguments.

You used an analogy in the first place, so far I haven't seen anybody harangue you about how water isn't the same as intellectual property.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306512)

If one day there's a murder and the police traces down the gun to you, they'd like to be able to continue following the chain to the last owner, but you kept no record so they can't

So this is all to make copyright law a little more convenient to enforce? Freedom means you have to take the occasional tradeoff somewhere. Being a little harder to catch people who might be breaking laws, is one consequence.

Re:Open wi-fi should be perfectly legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306958)

At the cost of basically saying that you are planning on making connectivity so expensive that Britain is at a competitive disadvantage compared to other industrialized democracies....?

Legal, yes it should be (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306362)

But, it might be a violation of your TOS.

Will they outlaw payphones too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306154)

They can be used for anonymous copyright infringement too. With enough quarters I can read a whole book to my friend who's transcribing on the other end.

Enforcement? Not likely. (2, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306180)

Yeah, not only a bad idea, but how the hell are you gonna enforce it? I mean seriously, anybody driven down around a couple of square blocks in Downtown, Anywhere with a sniffer lately? What, at least 40 or 50 APs show up, most of which are unsecure?

Heh, if they do have some sort of WiFi goon squad running around with a scanner, one could keep them busy for a while with FakeAP...

Re:Enforcement? Not likely. (1)

molecular (311632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306358)

I mean seriously, anybody driven down around a couple of square blocks in Downtown, Anywhere with a sniffer lately? What, at least 40 or 50 APs show up, most of which are unsecure?

where do you live?

I'm looking at 41 APs here (fixed location), 34 of which are WPA/WPA2, 7 WEP, 0 open.
This is similar to what I see at other locations in germany.

Re:Enforcement? Not likely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306536)

I lived in Berlin for a while and can second that.

I suspect it has something to do with the Fritzbox being near ubiquitous and being secure by default.

Re:Enforcement? Not likely. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306384)

Just create a new government department to do those door to door searches if they triangulate an open wifi to your home.

Re:Enforcement? Not likely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306634)

Businesses will comply or be put out of business. I doubt the government will care that you can leach bandwidth from you neighbour. If someone offers open access and it becomes publicly known, they will be shut down and fined too.

Don't kid yourself that this isn't enforceable. That just allows you to feel all cosy about it and lets the government off the hook. You need to fight it.

An interesting question... (1, Offtopic)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306198)

Of course using unprotected WiFi isn't stealing. Public wifi is generally unprotected, and using it isn't stealing.

The point should instead be, perhaps, whether using unprotected WiFi without permission is stealing.

But then, I suppose, that ultimately amounts to whether or not using anybody else's WiFi without permission, whether or not they had it protected, is stealing.

Because the measure of someone's ability to access the facilities should not be an indicator of whether or not they are allowed to use it, the only thing that ought to matter is whether or not they ever had any real permission to access it in the first place.

One could offer the point that an owner's failure to protect their WiFi from public use should be an indicator that it is intended for public use, but officially speaking, no real protocol for such an assumption actually exists.

I personally don't care whether or not it's called stealing or not... using somebody else's things without their actual permission is rude at best and can be illegal at worst (in the case of computer facilities such as WiFi, it actually is illegal in Canada. See sec 342.1 of the Canada Criminal code)... so really, what does it matter if it's actually called stealing or not?

2 choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306250)

Cafes, libraries, and such would simply have to shut down their access points. Hotels would either have to shut it down, or charge quite a bit more for internet access, this includes both in room wired and wifi access.

  Monitoring for illegal file sharing is not a simple task. You can't simply "shut down" bittorrent, or rapidshare, or edonkey, or any of the evolving sharing protocols. You have to do content monitoring. With full encryption (protocol and payload), this becomes even more difficult and very expensive. How about VPN connections? The list goes on and on.

  The technology is such that you can't stop it, you can only hinder it. So the only choices are to either shut down the expansion of internet technologies (always on), or offer a viable and attractive alternative to the people doing the sharing.

Brown envelopes (3, Insightful)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306266)

I'm sure if you paid Peter Mandelson* some brown envelope money then he would amend the law. But as it is, I think he's more interested in the kind of money that media moguls have when he goes mixing with them on yachts in the South of France for a "friendly chat." The man and the current UK government are evil. * the chief architect of this whole bastard Digital Economy law

Re:Brown envelopes (3, Insightful)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306598)

You forgot to add 'unelected (twice)' in your description of Peter Mandelson. He shouldn't be anywhere near government, let alone at the heart of it.

Re:Brown envelopes (3, Insightful)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306936)

The problem is, apparently, that the big copyright holders already did that - except they probably used a brown wheelbarrow.

What is most troubling is that the Digital Britain bill will give Lord Voldem^H^H^H^H^H^HMandelson the ability to do pretty much as he wishes regarding controls over the Internet, without having to trouble himself with asking Parliament if it's OK. :(

-MT.

All-fronts attack (4, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306274)

What's really needed is a multi-national organization to address what's clearly an all-out assault on internet freedom by a variety of vested interests. Governments, patent trolls, multi-national entertainment corporations...all of them are pushing in the same direction, and there doesn't seem to be any unified push back.

Let's be clear: I'm not alleging a conspiracy. What I'm saying is that these groups all know where their best interests lie (screwing the consumer/citizen/user/whatever) and they sense that if they don't get their boot on our throat, no matter how badly they have to bend the various constitutions of the democracies they use for cover, the opportunity will slip away. They aren't about to let that happen if they can possibly help it.

Re:All-fronts attack (1)

Akira Kogami (1566305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306780)

Agreed. The whole idea of "you infringe on the copyright of the copyright owners who are lobbying the fuck out of us and we can just take away your internet" is just freaky.

What might make more sense.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306276)

...if if instead of making open Wi-Fi illegal, they instead make the owner of any any open Wi-Fi access point liable for any illegal activity that is detected on their network, whether or not they knew about the activity.

Making open WiFi itself illegal in what is otherwise a relatively free nation is just so lacking in even the slightest bit of thought into the matter that it defies all attempts to logically rationalize it. I'm speechless at the idea that the concept could even actually make it as far as a bill.

Re:What might make more sense.... (0, Troll)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306352)

Either way it still makes me wonder what happens to the people who don't secure their networks well (through ignorance) and end up with neighbors using it, or worse some person in a parked car nearby, as police can at least go talk to the neighbors.

Re:What might make more sense.... (2, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306520)

Well, in Canada, there's a section of the Criminal code (342.1) that disallows the use of computer computer resources (which would include WiFi) without permission from the owner. A person's ability to access the resources is not taken as an indication of any implied permission. If one can show that the use was inadvertent, it will not, in general, carry an legal penalties unless there are extenuating damages. Claiming "the network was unprotected" would not fly as evidence that it was inadvertent. In fact, if one actually tried to use that as an excuse, it would essentially be a confession that they knew that they were utilizing somebody else's network in the first place, and so make them legally liable.

Re:What might make more sense.... (1)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306938)

Have you got any example cases?

Re:What might make more sense.... (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306676)

If you read the article rather than the summary you would find out that they are in fact going to do what you said. You can have an open access point but you will be liable for everything that goes through it unless you keep logs tied to a verified indentity recording everything that person does.

Re:What might make more sense.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306746)

I had read the article... it appeared to me that they were making the case that public wifi would be illegal, without exception. I admit it's possible I had misread it, however... I'll review it again.

Re:What might make more sense.... (1)

WhatDoIKnow (962719) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306802)

So if a pickpocket steals a wallet from a patron inside a restaurant, the restaurant owner is liable?

Passive-Aggresive-Open wifi (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306344)

Complementing the story about Passive-Aggresive wifi Hotspots [slashdot.org] , the new trend could putting them locked with password, and naming them ThePasswordIsXYZ9923. They are not open, but whoever wants to use them will be able to do it.

Ridiculous (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306398)

The government have totally lost the plot. I'll be so glad when BRrown and his morons get voted out in May.

Re:Ridiculous (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306690)

Unfortunately the other option isn't very good. Maybe the Lib Dems might be the best option but it seems very unlikely that they will win.

Password as your SSID (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306408)

There, its secure :)

Imprisonment In The Community is here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306456)

Every call will be logged, every transaction filed, what you do, where you go, who you see and what you think will be traceable. You will be watched, profiled, targeted, and the number plate of your vehicle registered at each motorway intersection.

There will be no cheating and you will do what you are told - though to be fair, for the milch cows amongst us that will not be a problem.

The UK government introduced the quaintly named. "Care in the community" in order to allow them to cut costs by dumping people with serious psychological disorders out of the hospitals and on to the streets.

Now they are taking it a step further. Welcome to, "Imprisonment in the Community". No need for the concentration camps. You are already under control right where you are - going about your daily business.

On the wi-fi stealing article (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306524)

I don't get why slashdot made this 1.5 articles, as it makes discussion of this other article semi-offtopic, but:

The guy may have some decent points, but other than mentioning a counter-argument in order to then tear it apart, he has zero balance to his post, which makes it not so much a thorough evaluation of the issue as much as a vent for someone with an ax to grind. The part that I really didn't agree with is how he goes on about how people get enough warnings to use password protection and whatnot that making wifi unsecured has to be effectively an active decision to want to allow people to connect. It has been commonly mentioned on slashdot that bad users pay no attention to warnings, so they never read them, therefore they don't actually know what is wrong. While you could say they deserve to have others connect to their network, this guy takes it as implicit authorization to connect- these people are not likely aware enough to consider other people at all. He likes to make lots of assumptions about what the uninformed user would do, despite the fact that it isn't that hard to actually talk to one of these people and no longer have to assume anything. I get the feeling if you asked this guy for tech help, he would patronize you to no end.

Re:On the wi-fi stealing article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306668)

Hmm, I actually agree with the author.

He lists many avenues that people are informed about the risks of wireless, and have been for the last few years. As said, it would take a very special case to ignore *all* of these warnings.

If it is fair to assume that people have been warned and are aware of the risks, and dont care due to laziness or ignorance, then surely they must accept the consequences?

If I eave my car unlocked with the keys in it overnight, I might not intend for my car to get stolen but I would be held responsible and can't be surprised if it was.

very british (3, Insightful)

molecular (311632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306532)

* Shut down the last hiding-place. Anonymity be gone.

* Make encryption illegal. No Secrets.

* Make people sign every ip-packet with their government-issued key and make ISPs drop all unsigned packets. Total accountability.

  => Everyone secure beneath watchfull eyes [wired.com] (especially our children)

creepy!

I don't get it... (2, Insightful)

geegel (1587009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306620)

What's to stop coffee shops from setting a password protected wifi spot and then putting a big poster with the password on it?

TPTB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306742)

It's pretty obvious from this and similar legislation and obviously biased court decisions around the world, that TPTB are scared sh*tless of the enablement of free speech and open thought that the Internet, especially anonomous Internet connections provide. After all, how can they send the Brown Shirts to your home, or other forms of coercion, if they can't tell who you are. The kid glove is beginning to fray and we dumb sheep are beginning to see the mailed fists of our overlords, I mean elected representatives, beneath. If we don't wake up to the dangers soon, it will be too late.

All hail the police state of UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31306924)

This is simply a bald faced abuse of power. The state wants total control. And don't think it is just Gordon Brown doing this - any government wants this kind of power and control.

Why is this still in parliament? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306992)

Which idiots have still not got round to throwing this out? I hope they have a really good excuse.
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