UK ISP: Costly Upgrades Required to Prevent Wi-Fi Piggybacking

UK ISP: Costly Upgrades Required to Prevent Wi-Fi Piggybacking

TalkTalk warns many will have to spend up to £70 ($106 USD) each for a new router, and/or £20 ($31 USD) for a new laptop Wi-Fi card to prevent others from using their connection to download copyrighted material or risk losing it altogether.

UK ISP TalkTalk, which claims to be the country’s largest broadband provider with over 4.25 million customers, has long been “dismayed” by the govt’s “u-turn on illegal file-sharing” to once again include a “three-strikes” graduated response system, being among the first ISPs to reject any efforts to force them to “impinge its customers’ rights and restrict their freedom of use of the internet.”

It has pointed out that people won’t be accused, but rather IP addresses will, and that the unsecure nature of Wi-Fi connections exposes the innocent to what it calls “superhighway robbery.” Last October it conducted a Wi-Fi survey to prove this point, finding as many as 41% of connections in some areas vulnerable to hijacking and illegal use.

What it means is that many households will have to upgrade their Wi-FI equipment or risk losing their Internet connection altogether if used by pirates to download copyrighted material illegally. Internet users will have to spend up to£70 ($106 USD) each for a new router and/or £20 ($31 USD) for a new laptop Wi-FI card.

“It is outrageous that citizens are being made to shell out on enhanced security to prop up the failing business models of an industry that stubbornly refuses to move with the times,” says Andrew Heaney, strategy and regulation director at TalkTalk.

Unable to allow for a public access Wi-FI “exemption,” the govt has also made it clear it wants to outlaw open Wi-Fi as well, a move the Communications Management Association, a trade body for the IT industry, has called a “death knell for public access to Wi-Fi.”

The Digital Economy Bill makes it possible for the provider of Wi-Fi access (a Starbucks, a small private hotel, a bed and breakfast boarding house, a village hall community project) to be classed as an ISP rather than as a subscriber, and therefore subject to the same liabilities as TalkTalk.

“The problem, as should be self-evident to the Bill’s sponsors, is that in

the case where an infringing guest or other end user is accessing via wireless it could be impossible to identify the miscreant,” it says. “The Wi-Fi access point owner is then unwittingly exposed to legal action.”

Moreover, Wi-Fi, and the ability of the people to fully use the Internet in public and private spheres, is being hijacked by copyright holders who don’t seem to care about the consequences of their own inaction over the years.

Stay tuned.

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