The Digital Economy Act, or the “big boys browbeating government into supporting them and to hell with everyone else” act… is a novel piece of new legislation which states that an ISP (or Internet Service Provider) is someone who provides an electronic communication service that is provided to a subscriber and consists entirely or mainly of the provision of access to the internet and includes the allocation of an IP address or addresses to the subscriber to enable that access.
Let me translate that into English for you. The act therefore affects ANYONE offering free or paid WIFI to anyone else.
That includes but is by NO means limited to:
SMEs (ie almost ALL businesses statistically)
The above might include your local shopping area, cafe, hotel, B&B, airport, TRAIN you name it. Everything from the private individual upwards who installs a WIFI router for whatever purpose, from keeping the kids happy to providing a service for customers.
The above people with marked exceptions are no more likely to understand what an IP address is, than I could be expected to know how to operate on a brain tumour.
But it gets worse…. said potential criminals are supposed to notify subscribers (like a FON user would know who his “subscribers” are!) of allegations made by copyright owners that their accounts have been used for unlawful file sharing… and must maintain lists… WHOAH just hold on there, lists?? What, of complete strangers?
This misguided piece of legislation appears to have come into place, being signed by a tiny number of MPs while everyone else had other things to worry about (ie elections) and seems to me to have gone something like this. Big business pressures government to secure protection for the music and related industries to try to stop people ripping off their products.
At this point a little history lesson might be in order… In 56 now and back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, we used to go to record shops and buy records. I can’t remember the date but Philips brought out something called the musicassette or simply cassette player. It became known as the musicassette because they did a competition asking people what this new mini tape player should be called – and people like me filled in the competition. I still remember receiving the first Philips player and a TON of cassettes as a prize. I’ve no idea if I was the only one – probably not. Any way, I digress.
One of the first things that was asked was.. what on earth would you use a cassette player for. The response was – well, you’d want to record your friends and family singing, or maybe record a meeting or something.
Bollocks- there is a reason the 90 minute tape was the most popular, offering 45 minutes per side. It’s because they knew FINE WELL you’d record one album on one side and another album on the other side. Is it also I wonder a coincidence that DYMO labels just happened to fit 2 on the end sleeve of the cassette cover.
Anyway, we all know the history – every single person I went to school with had one of these and we all copied each other’s albums and put them on tape – so we could listen to them in the car.
So then the music industry brought out the CD… and NERO brought out the burning software so presumably you could record your friends singing.
Then Sony (who produce records I may add) brought out the Walkman. It must have been obvious at the time that this would produce a very simple way for everyone to record from their CDs to their PC and copy the material to the Walkman… indeed not only was it obvious it was BLINDINGLY successful and so before long we had the file sharers on the web making millions of tracks available to share with others and millions of people started downloading music.
So now it seems the record companies and their friends have decided this is not good enough and somehow got together with the government who then passed a law that makes just about everyone a bona-fide criminal.
Let me be clear, I don’t download lots of music, indeed I mainly listen to Internet radio which once mastered means you’d never listen to the BBC again – but my lack of inclination to download is not because it’s against the law, it’s because I’m now dead old at 56 and most, but not all of the material out there sounds like poo to me apart from Alicia Keys who’s wonderful.
Mobile phones that handle WIFI are now coming out in numbers…. the Microsoft Smartphones, the iPhone, Blackberry and others.. and because the mobile operators are lying gits, offering unlimited access but then in the small print changing their minds – and because 3G in many parts of the UK is entirely PANTS, WIFI is UTTERLY important to this new generation of information seekers. We like to get our news in cafes and the pub, we do more and more and more things via the internet – and when tablets take off we’ll be doing that EVEN MORE…
And what do we find, an act that is guaranteed if anyone ever gets around to TELLING THE PEOPLE, to turn folk OFF from offering free or inexpensive WIFI…
It is therefore VITAL that individuals and companies GET OFF THEIR BOTTOMS and COMPLAIN about this bill and get it CHANGED. Write to OFCOM and explain why this is completely unmanageable – why it will DAMAGE our country and RESTRICT access to WIFI for completely the WRONG REASONS.
As if Nick Clegg needed any more bolstering after his world-class battering of the other two leaders on TV, he was recently asked THIS question
"Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?"
"We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."
Ok, so get onto your liberal candidate and find out what HE OR SHE is doing about this.. in fact, get onto your MP and ask why he or she (as is likely) did not even bother to VOTE on this issue – I’ll save you guessing – they probably didn’t have a CLUE what it was about – but don’t let that stop you asking!
The Lib Dems later apparently qualified the comment saying that they supported most of the bill – so clearly THEY have some friends in big business also.
I don’t know if you’ve thought of this – but regarding the many thousands of people the government now classes as ISPs – part of the deal is that they all LOG what we’re doing. So just as in the McCarthy era or the peak of the CCCP, the government will have succeeded in turning thousands of ordinary people into SPIES – but this time not for the government, but for BIG BUSINESS….. yes, that means that you ISP will know you are READING THIS be it your REAL ISP, your cafe owner, or your friend who’s letting you use their WIFI!