DEA piracy clampdown should cover 4G and public Wi-Fi too, watchdog told

The Federation Against Software Theft wants the current UK Digital Economy Act anti-piracy proposals to be extended to cover public Wi-Fi hotspots and 4G technology.

The highly vocal Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) wants the Digital Economy Act (DEA) to apply to mobile connections, particularly 4G.

The measures of DEA, a piece of anti-piracy legislation originally passed in 2010 but unlikely to be implemented until around 2014 , currently only apply to fixed-line broadband connections.

However, FAST wants its measures, which oblige ISPs to send warning letters to suspected unlawful file-sharers and keep lists of repeat infringers, to also apply to public Wi-Fi and 4G connections . The extra bandwith now available on such services makes illegal pirating of copyrighted material a more viable prospect, according to FAST.

"In its current form the DEA is not sufficiently flexible in scope to account for advances in technology" — Julian Heathcote Hobbins, FAST

"The issue is that by the time the DEA is finally implemented, technology could have moved on so far making the Act ineffective in helping to deal with those using 4G networks to share files. In its current form the DEA is not sufficiently flexible in scope to account for advances in technology," Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counel for FAST, said in a statement on Monday.

Ofcom has always maintained that it would review the measures of the DEA around six months after its introduction, which currently looks likely to be in the first quarter of 2014.

"The scope of the draft code does not include mobile networks, but we will review the scope six months after the scheme comes into effect," an Ofcom spokesman told ZDNet. "Our conversations with industry suggest peer-to-peer file-sharing on mobile networks is not a major problem, but it's important the scope is reviewed to ensure the code takes account of developments in technology."

However, the final measures of the DEA are not yet set in stone — the Act still requires both European Commission and Parliamentary approval before its measures can take effect.