Mon, Feb. 18, 2008

German Fear of Anonymity

CK - Washington.   Another nail in the wireless Internet coffin. By summary order, the Düsseldorf appellate court announced that WiFi users should install password protection and encryption in order to insulate themselves from contributory liability for alleged copyright violations perpetrated by third parties through wireless routers.

By leaving the router open, the court found a user to have afforded third parties with the protection of anonymity that allowed them to break the law by downloading content from the Internet. Therefore, the user should suffer the consequences and be held liable for alleged illegal downloads.

Anonymity is frequently seen in a negative light in Germany, despite volumes of laws on privacy and protection of data that are designed to shield individuals from invasion into their personal space. The apparent policy conflict does not seem to disturb many German courts, just as in this December 27, 2007 ruling in the matter I-20 W 157/07. Like this court, most courts also disregard the benefit of ubiquitous Internet access which will hurt German competitiveness and R&D in Internet technologies. [wireless, WiFi, copyright, violation, liability, privacy, data protection, router, third-party, Internet]

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