EXTRACT FROM PC PRO
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 18 May 2010 at 13:59
Britons could face the prospect of legal action for not securing their Wi-Fi connections, according to a legal expert at Sheffield University.
The warning follows a German case that saw a broadband subscriber fined for not securing his wireless network, which was used to download music illegally.
If the Digital Economy Act comes into force in the UK, similar cases of liability for having an unsecured network could follow here.
There's no real definition of what 'allow' means and it could be that not setting a password could be taken as 'allowing' someone to use your network
“The German case is an illustration of what could happen here, so it's a bit of a salutary warning,” said Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at the University of Sheffield. “At the moment there's no legal requirement to lock down your network – it's not a crime to leave it open, but it may break the terms and conditions of your ISP, and it could take legal action.”
Under the Digital Economy Act, however, you could be sent warnings and eventually disconnected from the internet if you “allow” someone else to download content illegally – a grey area that could be exploited by media industry lawyers.
“There's no real definition of what 'allow' means and it could be that not setting a password could be taken as 'allowing' someone to use your network,” said Edwards.
However, she stressed that any such sanctions would have to wait until the "technical measures" part of the Digital Economy Act had come into force, something that still requires Ofcom's recommendation in a year's time, plus a new vote in both houses of Parliament.
Campaigners against the act hope the downloading sections of the Act could be repealed by the new Government. In line with pre-election promises from now Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, party members at this week's Liberal Democrats conference called on their ministers and MPs “to take all possible steps to ensure the repeal” of large swathes of the Act.
THIS COUNTRY IS A JOKE SOMETIMES