UK Digital Economy Bill will wipe out indie WiFi hotspots in libraries, unis, cafes

GlennF sez, "The Digital Economy Bill in the UK that Cory has written about has a new, horrible portion that could cause many (most?) public hotspots to shut down unless run by companies large enough to handle the recordkeeping requirements.

This ZDNet UK article cites legal experts who say that the penalties associated with failure to comply will make small businesses turn off hotspots. Universities and libraries may face huge liability as well."

Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the scenario described by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in an explanatory document would effectively "outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses", and would leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position.

"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," Edwards said.

"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."

The Digital Economy Bill is being sold to us on the grounds that copyright infringement harms the British economy because of the importance of our entertainment industry. But while the measures in the DEB won't stop copyright infringement (copying isn't going to slow down — as computers and the technology they enable gets cheaper and more widely distributed, copying will continue to speed up, just as it has done since the dawn of the computer industry), they will harm British business and British families, by making the Internet generally less useful and more difficult and more expensive for honest people to use.

In other words, the Digital Economy Bill will do no good for the analogue economy industries, and will weaken the digital economy.

Open Wi-Fi 'outlawed' in Digital Economy Bill

(Thanks, Glenn!)