back to article Gov net disconnections could breach EU law

The Government's Digital Economy Bill could be in breach of EU laws, according to an internet law expert. Professor Lilian Edwards has also warned that the Bill could make it impossible to operate a free wireless network legally. The Bill, published last week, contains an outline of the Government's plans to terminate internet …


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  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Arrogant arses.

    The BIS spokeswoman said: "On the E-Commerce issue, we believe our proposals are fully compliant with all EU regulations."

    and added "but we're not going to check to make sure that it is compliant, as that would mean us losing face."

    Fuckwits. All of them.

    1. Dave Bell

      Previous Examples

      They always say, as the law requires them to do, that a new bill is compatible with the Human Rights Act and this the ECHR.

      I've given up on trusting such claims.

  2. Eradicate all BB entrants

    At last they admit the truth

    As the spokeperson said, they 'believe' the policy is legal under EU rules, thus admitting that policy is set by beliefs and not facts. (Which we all knew it was seeing as the only people they consulted were the record/movie companies)

    Its my belief that all politicians should be punched in the face everytime they give a slippery weasel answer to a simple yes/no question. Can that be made policy?

    1. NB

      one step further

      I concur and it is my belief that we should go one step further and punch them in the face _with_ a slippery weasel whenever they give an answer reminiscent of said creature.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why stop there

    My car could be stolen and used in a bank robbery, so why not make me liable for that robbery? It would certainly be easier than actually catching the actual bank robber.

    It's consistent with current NuLabour thinking too... somebody has to be punished for each crime. Does it really matter who? When an employer hires an illegal immigrant, they made the employer liable (well unless she's a Labour peer in which case she's TOTALLY BLAMELESS), if there's something you object to in a video, arrest the messager who brought you the video for possessing it! Is there an injustice in the world? Just call the person drawing attention to that injustice and 'inciter' and arrest them!.

    So making Network Suppliers the policeman for users of their networks is totally consistent with NuLabour thinking.

    And trying to bypass Parliament by using statutory instruments is totally consistent too.

    And the gutless Labour MPs who let Brown crawl into power without being elected, and then surround himself with Peers loyal to himself, rather than the party.... Mandleson included... well that's consistent too.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Possibly because

    Suspect that the provision that

    "having unsecured Wi-Fi might well be seen as allowing other people to use their service which means that effectively you would become responsible for their alleged copyright infringement"

    may have been introduced to counter all the freetards who go around saying that they leave their WiFi unsecured so that no-one can prove that they were responsible for any specific traffic over their network connection

    1. Sam Liddicott

      no doubt, but

      no doubt, but I pay for my music, and I run an open fon (you don't have to login).

      I also use open points from others when I'm travelling.

      So I clearly give as I take and pay for my music, but no doubt to them I'm just collateral damage in the democratic war against nasty file-sharing voters waged by the special interest lobbyist super-monitory.

      Copyright isn't even a moral right, it's a legal one.

  5. The Original Ash

    New law poorly worded and potentially illegal!

    In other news, water is wet, fire is hot, and the Home Secretary is a useless shill.

  6. Nomen Publicus

    No justice here

    It's all very well saying that the accused can go to law, but who can afford that route? This is how the RIAA/MPIAA operate, they accuse and then offer a cheaper option of a "fine". Most people can't afford to go to court and just admit "guilt" to avoid a multi-million dollar judgement.

    That ain't justice.

  7. EnricoSuarve

    Everyone should damn well get an IT qualification

    So reading between the lines according to the mouthpiece for BIS basically everyone, everywhere in the UK should:

    a) upgrade to a WiFi router capable of being secured beyond WEP

    b) discard and replace any PC or devices only capable of using WEP

    c) educate themselves to the point where they understand exactly how to secure their network properly (to a standard presumably defined by said mouthpiece)

    d) purchase equipment capable of monitoring and logging any traffic on their network to help them prove their innocence (as everyone obviously starts off guilty)

    e) get a qualification in network security to manage the above equipment

    I'd be interested to know if the mouthpiece himself knows how to do any of the above. I'd also be interested in knowing who decided that Hollywood, the same people who seem incapable of securing their own data prior to release, get to set the standards for everyone else?

    On the other hand perhaps the studios and the music industry could fund all the above from their record profits this year? Just a thought.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      IT knowledge may not help you

      My sister-in-law has ADSL from the phone company. They won't tell her the password for the WiFi router to be able to change the settings. It is setup with WAP, but the key is made from part of the serial number, which is also the SSID and the MAC address, so not too secure! When she had problems with another router with the same SSID, we had to get the phone company out. They couldn't even change the settings, they had to replace it. The phone company wouldn't tell us the ADSL settings so we could use our own router either.

      No amount of IT knowledge can help (unless you can hack closed routers)

  8. Nathan 13

    In a few years..

    All citizens will be required to have audio and video equipment in every room of our homes. If youve nothing to hide youve nothing to fear.

    If there is a crime committed by anyone who happens to be in your home then the homeowner will be evicted.

    important note. If you get burgled then its the homeowners fault as the crime was committed in his house.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Oh Noes

    The 'net disconnections may be in breach of EU law?

    It's a good job our government follow EU law to the letter. Just don't mention DNA retention, or investigating phorm, will you?

  10. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. g e

      Now I ain't saying mainland Europe is perfect

      But it's a UFCKload better than the UK.

      Saving to leave this Blighted Isle at the moment and take my skills & tax contributions with me.

  11. richard 55

    Secured wifi in danger too

    As I read it if you grant someone access (in your office/cafe for instance) ..and they go on to 'infringe' then you remain responsible. Secured/unsecured doesn't really come into it - or am I reading this incorrectly?

    1. Matt2012

      ..Just what I was thinking

      I use the wifi in a cafe occasionally they give me their key to login. As far as I can see I am now free to download anonymously and they are free to go to jail* am I right?

      *or lose their internet, be fined etc etc..

  12. Neal 5

    All Read Failures

    If the word "COULD" actually meant anything at all in this story, then the whole thing is just a series of what if's. Now if the word could was to be replaced by "WILL" then maybe I could get out of my pram in the same fashion as the previous commentards. Sadly/Happily that is not the case.

    I'll believe it when I see it.

  13. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Beware the Innocent Beginner, who Knows Not of the Perils that Abound ...

    ... and Engulf One in CyberSpace and in Virtualisation.

    If the industry mandated that all wifi transceivers were default secured with free updating security systems, a la Windows update service, would there be no need for the Government to intercede.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    EU laws seem more sensible every day ...

    This govt gets worse day by day. At least it only has six months (at the most) to go, win or lose, Brown will not be around as the hammering Labour will will force him out as they lose a couple of hundred seats.

    We mock/abuse the EU laws but some of them are pretty spot on, they seem to give us a lot more freedoms than the Stalinst govt we have now.

    I for one welcome our EU overlords.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm ...

    "Software which limits or prevents access is freely available and easy to install ..."

    Install on what? On the access point? The router to which the access point is connected? Or does everyone offering free wifi route their traffic through a separate machine running some specified operating system (whose name, I bet, must begin with "W", sheesh).

    Setting up a free wifi that allows relatively unfettered access to the Big Bad Internet is easy and easy to keep totally separate from the premises own network connection (two phone lines). Setting one up so that you can be reasonably confident that it won't allow people to use open proxies or "interesting" uses of permitted protocols is difficult. And expensive.

    All this bill will do is ensure that no one will offer free wifi any more. Or any public internet access. That's going to seriously annoy a lot of people staying in hotels isn't it?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Gov net disconnections could breach EU law?

    No shit Sherlock.

  17. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Why are 3-strikes needed?

    There is a bit from the BIS:

    "Many premises that offer public Wi-Fi access already disallow access to unlawful file-sharing sites," said the BIS statement. "Software which limits or prevents access is freely available and easy to install and we would anticipate any responsible organisation offering Wi-Fi access would take action if it appears their connection is being misused."

    So why is a 3-strikes law even being talked about? Just get all the ISPs to install this freely available software which can "disallow access to unlawful file-sharing sites" and nobody will be able to unlawfully share files ever again. Problem solved.

    I'm not sure if I want a sarcasm icon, or an icon of a red-hot-poker being shoved up the arse of a civil servant.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Doesn't monitoring of the internet connection without permission using DPA mean its in breach of RIPA much like PHORM's secret trials were?

  19. David Lawrence

    Is that really legally enforceable?

    So if I had a kitchen knife, and lent it (in good faith) to a friend, and he killed someone with it, could I be prosecuted for murder?

    Sorry bit I don't see the difference here.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    What a surprise

    Government legislators who haven't a frikken clue what they are doing...

  21. kissingthecarpet
    Gates Horns

    EU law

    has always been a friend to the man in the street - all the papers who print "stories"(mostly made up) about insane EU regs do so largely because their mates (big business, dodgy pols) don't like the way that said laws prevent them from ripping off the public.

    (Icon: one of the wankers who doesn't like complying with EU law)

  22. Tony Hoyle

    So.. bye bye public wifi

    Who's going to run public wifi if they could go to jail if someone downloads the wrong thing using it?

    The BSA seem hopelessy naive if they think that 'blocking software' (whatever that is.. short of running a whitelist of allowed sites it sounds like marketing BS) is going to stop it.. and the law makes no provision for 'I tried to block it, honest!' either.

  23. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    Free access doesn't have to mean anonymous access. But if you have to keep track of user IDs then it's a cost that you probably didn't want.

    On the other hand, if you have your home broadband connection wireless networked, you'll probably find a line in the contract that says you mustn't allow people other than / outside your household to use it. Which also probably counts as unauthorised access, so would be an existing separate crime anyway.

    If there isn't any protection at all for "intellectual property" then no one will make it except for their own aims - to amuse the children, to satisfy a peculiar appetite, as racial propaganda - that sort of thing. And if there isn't protection in law for "intellectual property" then technological protection will be used to control use rigorously. Neither is very satisfactory.

    I assume that the news site I might set up (guess where I'd get the stories from) wouldn't be particularly popular. Even with choice of either no ads or exclusively adult-product ads. (Driving gloves, Hush Puppy shoes, easy-listening CDs, aphrodisiac lubricant.)

    1. EnricoSuarve

      Thanks god for copyright

      You're right - praise y9our entity of choice for copyright and patents, as without them we'd never have had Beethoven, Shakespeare, the wheel or the aeroplane

      Except that's wrong isn't it?

  24. Jeff Deacon

    It isn't only WiFi !

    If the article, and the commenters above, have the right end of this rather nasty stick, then running a Tor outlet node will become illegal too.


  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Butt shoorli minishter?

    Is it not better in everyone's interest for suspected or intercepted copyright infringement from a user account to have a warning sent to the account holder with no implication or blame attached and that the service will be suspended or otherwise withdrawn as something improper is believed to have occurred?


    it looks as if detection is limited to IP address only? (why not IP address > account > account holder > user OR alternatively IP address > (something to do with insecure Wifi access)

    on a principle that to err is human then no allegation should be made without proper hearing

    and so forth and so on ...

  26. Trev 2

    Won't BT have summut to say?

    If this is the case, then won't this seriously affect BTopenzone services as they must be making a fair packet from that considering they seem to be in a lot of Premier Inn's, Roadchef's and various other places...? Can't imagine they'll be exactly happy since they might not get prosecuted (not exactly sure), but presumably their customers would.

  27. DaveB

    Public network

    A couple of years ago I spent a week on a course in Wareham. I took our Intern with us and as we checked in he sat down opened his laptop and said "Is it OK if we use their wireless network". I asked the girl at the desk and she said "no problem".

    So for the week we stayed at the hotel my Intern downloaded gigabytes of stuff.

    When we checked out I said to the manager "thanks for the use of the INTERNET" as I don't think my Intern would have survived without it.

    He said "we don't have a wireless network" which got me thinking how the guy down the street was going to explain his 20 gig usage last month.

    So under the new Mandy law not only would this guy have to explain his over usage he would also be disconnected for leaving his WiFi open, or as delivered by Linksys.

  28. Stephen Jenner
    Big Brother

    Confused Commentators

    Yes... Brown is a total wan*er and so is his government, and next year the voters that gave him his power, will take it away.

    I would like to see them perform the same trick with the EU!

    Oh, has anyone here actually read the Lisbon Putsch?

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