Unsecured wifi might be contributory negligence

Roland Perry lists at internetpolicyagency.com
Mon Feb 20 09:41:15 GMT 2012

In article 
<CADWvR2gzBdzx0g=88QCo6kRFXn-4vuE8=EL8tH=V--Os=vYWyw at mail.gmail.com>, 
Igor Mozolevsky <mozolevsky at gmail.com> writes
>On 18 February 2012 17:31, Roland Perry <lists at internetpolicyagency.com> wrote:
>> It doesn't transfer via class actin suits, because we don't do those. What
>> might happen is that (because it's also hitting mainstream now) we could get
>> laws which introduce expectations on the behaviour of domestic Internet
>> subscribers along the same lines as were eventually introduced for car
>> drivers.
>You are assuming that there is a sufficiently large portion of
>domestic users who would know what that means. What about all those
>people to whom "the Internet" is nothing more than the "Internet
>Explorer" window? I am getting more and more convinced that comparing
>this situation to driving cars is not helpful at all---the latter
>requires a competence test and the government regulates who may or may
>not drive, whereas the former clearly does not; unless you are
>advocating that you need to pass some competence test and obtain a
>licence to have Internet connection...

Perhaps building regulations is a better analogy, and not installing 
unsafe DIY electrical outlets and gas fires in your house?

>Of course we have not touched upon why imposition of such laws should
>be the case---if you accept that connectivity to the Internet is
>ubiquitous then would you not be imposing a positive obligation to a
>small class (IP rights holders) on the population as a whole (cf. car
>drivers being a distinct class of population)?

I think I've mentioned it several times. It's so the householder can't 
hide behind the figleaf of "someone else did it". As a second order, 
some miscreants might be dissuaded from bad behaviour if they knew they 
had to use their own connectivity to do it.

>> If they are hijacking your *open* router, the solution is to apply some kind
>> of (any kind will do for now) security. It shows willing, if nothing else.
>Yes, but again, you are ducking the "who is responsible" issue---all
>the parties (domestic users, ISPs, manufacturers, and IP rights
>holders) have competing, and quite often, mutually exclusive

Which you could characterise as a market failure, and hence a need to 

>> By making it clear that operators of open domestic wifi points are
>> responsible for bad things which happen as a result.
>> Remembering also that the primary objective here probably isn't to make
>> domestic wifi points secure from "masked men", or responsible for
>> identifying those masked men, but to neutralise the excuse of the operator
>> that "It wasn't me, it was a masked man wot dunnit".
>How is that going to work though? If you make that a criminal
>liability, presumably, all the defendant would have to do is to assert
>the "not me" defence and it would be for the Crown to disprove it.

First you prove a bad thing has happened (I've never suggested that 
copyright infringement is either the only, or the most serious, thing 
that might happen). Then you have a penalty (proportionate, obviously) 
for the subscriber if he manages to convince you it was another person 
who did it.

Roland Perry

More information about the ukcrypto mailing list