Back in January, while in France, I experienced firsthand one of the "unintended consequences" of France rushing forwarding with a "three strikes" law that kicks people off the internet based on accusations (not convictions). Because of that, the idea of open WiFi is now pretty much gone
(which, amusingly, was pissing off the very same music execs who were such big fans of the law). It seems that something similar might be happening in the UK, as the folks behind the much maligned Digital Economy Bill have admitted that there will be no exceptions for anyone operating an open WiFi network
, even a library or a university. Thus, if a library had an open WiFi network, and it received a few accusations of file sharing, Peter Mandelson could decide
to kick them off the internet for as long as he would like.
While it doesn't technically "outlaw" open WiFi, it does put such a big liability on it that it leads to the same result. It effectively makes it so that no one, not even community organizations, will want to offer open WiFi. At a time when the UK government claims it's trying to encourage greater connectivity, it seems pretty silly to put in place a law that could lead to exactly the opposite.