13 February 2008

Striking Back Against the Three-Strikes Rule

As I noted yesterday, the idea of banning people from the Internet after "three strikes" is both outrageous and unworkable. One reason advanced for the latter is that people may be piggybacking on your wireless router, so they get the files and you get the blame.

That may well be true, but I find this rather weak as a potential defence, since it means that you would need to leave your router open, which many would be chary about. But I've just realised that there's a way to do this that goes beyond simply leaving it open and hoping: you join the Fon community, which is all about opening up your router in a controlled way. What's even better, is that it's backed by none other than BT in the UK:

BT and FON have joined forces to create a Wi-Fi community that allows its members to connect for free to thousands of places around the UK and the world, by simply sharing some of their Internet connection at home.

This tie-up with BT always struck me as masterly, because it meant that Fon was suddenly "official", and not some wild hacker thing that ought to be shut down. And yet shutting it down is the only way you could stop strangers from downloading copyright material through your shared connection.

So the three-strikes idea comes down, in part, to this: whether the UK government really wants to scupper BT's attempts to provide "Wifi for everyone", as it puts it, to keep a few lazy media companies quiet for a while - until they realise that plan 'C' has failed too.

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