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Open wireless services will be culpable for filesharing disconnection measures

Digital Economy Bill could spell the end of free wi-fi

The Government has decided that providers of free wi-fi access will not receive an exemption for measures designed to stop illegal file sharing.

According to ZDNet, this development would effectively outlaw the provision of free internet access as they would be open to the same disconnection measures proposed for individual users.

“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,” Sheffield University professor of internet law Lilian Edwards told ZDNet.

“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 café.”

Under the proposed legislation, internet customers will be responsible for any suspected file sharing attributed to their ISP address. The punishment will be that the account holder will be disconnected from the internet, regardless of whether the culprit is a customer at an internet café, or a child using a family connection.

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