I already knew it was a thin edge that people found themselves on if they offered free wifi, but I didn't realise until today that it will soon be illegal to share an internet connection if you don't log the identity of the person using said connection!
Thanks to a Tweet by Liam J. Hayter with a link to his blog I found out that apparently it will now be a legal requirement to take responsibility for who uses your internet connection. You will be liable for any illegal usage of your connection if you cannot prove who else used said connection.
So I have written to my local MP just to try and head it off at the pass, perhaps you might do the same:
Dear Chris Grayling,
I am a person who is entirely wrapped in the digital age, my life is centred around not only using but, as the chief technologist for a large consumer electronics company, I am also helping define the next generation of technology. I respect the challenges as well as the opportunities that this new generation offers and I believe that following generations will find new and interesting ways to use this technology that even I, at 30, could not have foreseen.
I am a strong believer in allowing this new digital economy to flourish and for providing mechanisms under which it can do so. I believe that many companies, who are not prepared for the next generation, will attempt to lobby government in order to defend an indefensible position. I believe that companies MUST find new ways to operate without resorting to legislation and I believe that people must not be labelled criminals on the say of corporations without due process through the courts. I have already seen too many actions by companies that are outside of the legal system and this frightens me; companies are collecting "evidence" themselves and presenting it to other companies who then take punitive action.
Most worryingly, I observe from the Digital Economy Bill that is presently before the government that there is great risk to our freedom as a nation. I see that it will be illegal to provide unfettered access to the internet through open internet connections because every user of a connection must be identified (otherwise the owner of the wifi will be presumed guilty through failure to secure the connection).
I am also very disturbed by what I read of the potential powers of the Secretary of State:
The truth or detail of how much of what I have read may have been distorted in the telling, however there is no smoke without fire:
Those old companies who are threatened do not account for as much of a contribution to the economy as the new industries that will rise as a result of freedom. I do not propose that we must endorse piracy, just that we must not assume the worst of people and the digital economy must be agile (not constrained by a legacy business structures). I am sure, as a Conservative MP you understand that liberty in business is essential, that more legislation rarely aids business and that we must be looking to stimulate not control the new.