UK Government to Criminalise Owners of Open Public Wi-Fi Networks

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has strongly hinted that owners of free public Wi-Fi wireless networks and Hotspots, such as those found in restaurants, libraries, universities and shared between neighbours, will not be exempt from the Digital Economy Bill’s measures to tackle Internet piracy.

The Digital Economy Bill proposes a “graduated response” to tackling “suspected” pirates, which starts with several warnings and could lead to service restrictions or possibly even disconnection from your ISP. Failure to heed the initial warnings will also result in your personal details being supplied to Rights Holders for possible legal action.



I’m sure this will affect more than just free Wi-Fi access points. A lot of places such as airports, supermarkets and unsupervised Internet cafés have coin-operated Internet terminals. While these generally prohibit running or installing of unauthorised software, some do allow downloading, especially those that have USB ports or SD card slots. At present, unless one pays by credit/debit card, most machines don’t collect any personal info if the user just pops in a coin.

For pay public Wi-Fi points however, it would mean that one would need to provide ID to buy an access voucher, so buying a Wi-Fi access voucher would not be as quick as buying a can of soda.