Telcos' six-strikes plan could kill public WiFi

As America's phone and cable companies roll out their "six strikes" plans (which they voluntarily adopted in cooperation with the big film companies), it's becoming clear that operating a public Internet hotspot is going to be nearly impossible. Anyone operating a hotspot will quickly find that it can no longer access popular sites like YouTube and Facebook, because random users have attracted unsubstantiated copyright complaints from the entertainment industry. Verizon (and possibly others) have made it clear that this will apply to businesses as well as individuals, meaning that firms will have to spy on all the traffic of all their users, all the time, and heavily censor their use of the Internet in order to prevent them from attracting these complaints.

It's not much of a stretch to see why the carriers would like this: every time you use a hotspot instead of using your phone or device's metered data-plan, they lose revenue.

Also, as the strikes get higher, there are two things to be aware of: ISPs are then more likely to hand over info to the copyright holders, meaning that it could still lead to copyright holders directly suing. That is, the "mitigation" factors are not, in any way, the sum total of the possible consequences for those accused. On top of that, we still fully expect that at least some copyright holders are planning to insist that ISPs who are aware of subscribers with multiple "strikes" are required under law to terminate their accounts. At least the RIAA has indicated that this is its interpretation of the DMCA's clause that requires service providers to have a "termination policy" for "repeat infringers." So it's quite likely that even if the ISPs have no official plan to kick people off the internet entirely under the plan, some copyright holders will still push for exactly that kind of end result.

Details Of Various Six Strikes Plans Revealed; May Create Serious Problems For Free WiFi [Techdirt/Mike Masnick]

Don't Let Verizon Kill Free WiFi! (petition)

(via Copyfight)

(Image: Wifi signal around here (2), a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nnova's photostream)


    1. Agreed. Do you represent a giant corporation with the billions of dollars that are required? Neither do I. So, we’re stuck.

  1. I don’t understand why this isn’t provoking a strong interest in end-to-end encryption. Not only should every end user be using a VPN, anyone offering free wifi should be doing the same.

    These rules are stupid rules, not just because they are wrong, but because they are so easily circumvented.

  2. Don’t be a low hanging fruit.  proxy your traffic. I can’t wait till the first time they knock a whole town off the internet for copyright infractions.

  3. It’s not much of a stretch to see why the carriers would like this: every time you use a hotspot instead of using your phone or device’s metered data-plan, they lose revenue.

    That doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I suppose if you go over your data allowance then you are going to get charged more, but most people have a set amount for a set price.  So me walking into Lowes and getting on their wifi doesn’t change the fact I still own Sprint that extra $30 data fee on my phone bill.  If anything cell companies should love it, you take up less bandwidth while still paying your monthly charge.

    1. “I suppose if you go over your data allowance then you are going to get charged more”

      That’s exactly why this appeals to the providers. Cloud services are bandwidth intensive. Many apps have “update only via wifi” settings. Many people have gotten used to being able to ignore data usage concerns when they can find a wifi connection. 

    2. This. Far be it for me to defend the Telcos, but the major carriers (and especially AT&T) all are struggling with ways to offload any mobile traffic from their networks, since spectrum is expensive, limited, and in many places congested. Verizon in particular wanted to be able to cross-market and partner with a consortium of cable companies (Cox, Time Warner, Comcast) as part of their spectrum transfer that was approved by the FCC last summer. It’s true, the carriers would love to eat up your data cap, but it’s more profitable for them to have you stay under the cap and use a lot less of their cellular network.

  4. “Telcos’ six-strikes plan could kill public WiFi”

    Well duh, their master plan is to make the open technology seem less attractive by comparison to their walled gardens, which they will control tightly. They just want to bring back what they know of TV and Radio distribution, but on the internet. 

      1. Funny you mention AOL as the head of CCI’s claim to fame was she worked at AOL.  Maybe someday she might even understand the internet… but I doubt it.

  5. We don’t have any “Strikes” here in Germany, but we have a thing called “Störerhaftung” – which means that you and your wallet are responsible for every and any thing that happens over your internet connection.

    So having a public WiFi opens you up to thousands of dollars in legal fines. Thus my “” homewifi is closed up to the public :(

    1. Is that the reason why Germany has nearly no free wifi (except at *bucks)? The only exception seems to be Berlin, at least in some quarters. The rest of Germany’s wifi landscape seems to be bare of anything “free” (both as in beer, and speech.)

      1. That is indeed the prime reason. People who leave their wifis open (and live in places where others can make use of this) are regularly subjected to legal fines in the range of 800 to 1500 Euros.

  6. I’m going to do my part by using every public hotspot I can find to share copies of the top five Oscar winning movies. What were they, btw?

  7. Or go guerrilla – I saw a Raspberry Pi project that was a “build your own cellphone station” on Wired the other day.

    Telcos suck.  They’re awful at running businesses, and have the stubborn sense of a buffalo, but are protected as a key industry, so they get pretty big favours.

    Great idea on the illegal downloads – do it to the corporate networks of the telcos.  Let’s invent a wee box that you simply stick to their wall and it busily and loudly and proudly downloads illegal stuff.  Set it up to broadcast movies back to the network!

    1. Some of the illegal stuff it downloads should be pirated copies of extreme-fetish porn of various falvors.  Don’t forget the amputee porn.

  8. I agree the strike system sucks, but I do not think an ISP will really drop some of their biggest business customers just to make the RIAA happy. Do you really see an ISP telling Starbucks, “No thanks, we don’t want your thousands of dollars a month.”

    1. Want to bet?
      How much is getting better terms for VOD offerings and being the first run location for some movies worth?

  9. Isn’t this going to end up biting them in the ass? If ISP’s volunteer to be internet cops, then aren’t they also liable for bad things that happen on their network? Couldn’t victims of a pirate/stalker/bully sue them for not doing a good enough job? Seems like any substantial court loss could wipe out any financial gain they get out of playing cop.

    1. This point may fly over your typical boingboing reader’s head, because the typical boinger has a home connection and seldom uses the public library for computing.  But I agree, it’ll have a huge impact.

      For example, I work in a large Midwestern public library system serving a population of 3 million.  We gave out 2.8 million computer sessions last year among our 80 locations.  (You’re limited to 2 per sessions per day.)  This works out to over 1125 computer sessions *per hour* that we’re open for operation.  And this is only counting the people using our computers – we gave out another 1712 WiFi sessions per day to people who brought their own lappies.

      So I can only hope that it’s as easy for our IT director to configure end-to-end encryption and a VPN as commentor cfuse (above) makes it sound.

  10. “People of the Internet” have massive amounts of political influence (See the SOPA/PIPA showdown as an example).  Why doesn’t the bandwagon stop merely reacting to shitty legislation and corporate policies and start pushing it’s own agenda?  Why not begin a feverish sustained campaign to bring true competition to our tubes?

  11. This arrangement between Big Content and Telcos smells of a corporate Trust in my opinion. They are using their positions as oligopolies to control the market in a way that solely benefits them at the expense of their customers and eliminates the possibility of a competitive force to do an end-run around their nefarious anti-consumer practices. The Feds ought to be pursuing a lawsuit.

  12. People have posted questions about how it works, who is doing it etc…
    I took the liberty in October of writing a little thing up…

    Cory has posted things here on BB I’ve submitted about this.

    And recently I was seen over on Forbes discussing this…

    Within these posts you will find more information than CNN reported when they covered it, and links to TorrentFreak where it was Ernesto that made a connection I had missed to the renegade DC Judge Beryl Howell who formerly worked for Stroz lobbying for the RIAA, before being placed on the bench and demanding 3rd parties go above and beyond the requirements of the law to protect copyright.

    If someone wants to help the cause to get this stopped, I really am just 1 person without enough time, head on over to CCI’s webpage
    and please pull out all of the ‘facts’ they post and combine them with where those reports were debunked.  They are running typical disinformation, I’d expect no less from a PR firm pulling the strings, and we need to catch them lying… AGAIN.

    Hey Ms. Lesser… where is the review of Stroz’s methodology used in the totally redacted to pointless “expert” review of your IP gathering tech that was promised?

    Where can I submit the list of RIAA/MPAA and studio held IP blocks using bittorrent to share copyrighted material so they can get strikes too?
    Or is this more do as we demand, not as we do?

  13. Yet another wonderful case of greedy corporations backed by the power of corrupt law to fuck things up for everybody.

    The kicker here is that I bet this reduces aggregate coffee shop, cafe, etc. revenue more than it boosts these MAFIAA assholes revenue, and puts many people out of work.

    Wait, check that, seeing how the real damage the MAFIAA assholes have incurred from piracy is Eleventeen Bazillion dollars, I guess I should retract the previous statement.

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