Wireless technology is the current catalyst creating new applications, services and content. In the U.K. this may come to a standstill, or should I say, become obsolete. Zack Whittaker wrote an excellent article on the weekend reporting that the British Government is tabling legislation that effectively wipes out open access to WIFI Internet services. Our sister website, ZDNet UK offered details of the legislation now before the House of Lords. Some would suggest that this legislation borders on being draconian in its pursuit of eliminating copyright violation that occurs through file sharing on Internet networks. The proposed legislation does not ban free WIFI, but it does propose to regulate it for any use in libraries, schools, communities, pubs and other public access areas. The legislation makes it impractical and financially impossible for implementation.
The proposed legislation document is available and shows past and current recommended changes and markup. It is blunt and right to the point. The Lords are suggesting changes to the Digital Economy Bill recommending wireless network access in all forms must be regulated. Just as frightening is the amount of influence copyright protection is having on communications law. Are the changes in the Digital Economy Bill indicators of what obligations and legal instruments ACTA lobbyists have strived for in the still secretive ACTA treaty? I would suggest the answer is yes, even though the final ACTA treaty language has not been disclosed.
The home of the Magna Carta may wind up being a digital police state. You will be assumed to be guilty of copyright violation before you log on. The government clearly believes that pub owners, hotels, business people and consumers simply cannot be trusted. If you can't provide Identification, network management tools and filtering of Internet content for your wireless service, you will not be allowed to offer it. As this unfolds, new questions arise regarding privacy rights (yes /no?) and how this potentially impacts future innovation in the U.K.
If this legislation passes in its current form, Britain's digital privacy rights will be non-existent.