Wi-fi owner gets fined for not sticking a password on it
Are you a German citizen? Well, I've been downloading entire back catalogues via your Wi-Fi connection and you're to blame.
Of course, I haven't because I don't live in Germany, but alas, the latter part of what I said is oddly true. Y'see, if your Wi-Fi isn't password protected, then German courts have ruled that you are partly responsible for illegal downloading.
Germany's top criminal court ruled that internet users need to secure their private wireless connections by password to prevent unauthorized people from using their Web access to illegally download stuff.
What is worse is that they can also be fined up to €100 if a third party helps themselves to your unprotected WLAN connection.
"Private users are obligated to check whether their wireless connection is adequately secured to the danger of unauthorized third parties abusing it to commit copyright violation," the court said.
However, you're not solely responsible. The court limited the decision, ruling that users could not be expected to constantly update their wireless connection's security. Basically, you're only required to protect your internet access by setting up a password when you first install it.
Spokeswoman Carola Elbrecht told the German news agency DAPD it made sense that users should install protection for their wireless connection and that at the same time it was fair of the court not to expect constant technical updates by private users.
The ruling came after a musician sued an internet user whose wireless connection was used to illegally download a song which ended up being offered on a file sharing network (how did they get the info to find out which connection was doing the specific download?).
The user proved that he was on holiday at the time the song was downloaded via his wireless connection, yet the court ruled he was responsible to a degree for failing to protect his connection from abuse by third parties.
This seems like a very strange ruling indeed. Could we be seeing a similar ruling coming into play in the UK?