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Pub Owner To Pay Heavy Fine Because Of Downloaded Content.

A pub owner in UK has been fined £8000 by the government when one of the pub’s customers was caught downloading copyrighted digital content from the pub’s Wi-Fi hotspot.

The pub, which is client of The Cloud Network, provides free Wi-Fi internet to its customers. Graham Cove, managing director of the hotspot provider The Cloud, told ZDNet UK that the case was first of its kind. He however, refused to give the name of the pub that was fined.

The hefty fine imposed on the landlord comes as a surprise to many as according to the Digital Economy Bill, which came into effect last week, all Wi-Fi hotspot were declared “public communications services”. It means that the user of the Wi-Fi hotspot is held responsible for the misuse of the connection, not the service provider.

According to the Digital Economy Bill, the public connection provider is required to maintain records, going back 12 months, of the communication taken place o the network.

The record includes user id, time and date of access and websites visited. However, the user information cannot be obtained with out permission under the Data Protection Laws.

Legal experts believe that the bill is shrouded with grey areas and loopholes and they assert that public communications service providers are not mandated to keep the record of the online activity unless asked by the government.

Our Comments

This is wrong, very wrong. The pub owner has no control on who downloads what and this could set a very bad precedence for those who manage WiFi hotspots, not only because it will increase the burden associated with recording and logging access but because it opens a huge pandora box.

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(ZDNet UK)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.