Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Privacy Your Rights Online

UK File-Sharing Laws Unenforceable On Mobile Networks 130

superglaze writes "UK mobile broadband providers currently have no way of telling which subscribers are file-sharing which copyrighted content, ZDNet UK reports. This represents something of a problem for new laws that have been proposed to crack down on unlawful file-sharing. According to the article, databases (tracking IP address mappings) could be built to make it possible to identify what specific users are downloading, but the industry is loathe to fund this sort of project itself. Also, as an analyst points out in the piece, users of prepaid phone cards are mostly anonymous in the UK, which creates another challenge for the government's plans. And if that isn't enough, connection-sharing apps like JoikuBoost would make identification pretty much impossible anyway."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK File-Sharing Laws Unenforceable On Mobile Networks

Comments Filter:
  • Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taucross ( 1330311 )
    They have no way of telling which subscribers are file sharing on any network - ask your local laser printer. I guess they'll just have to make do...
    • ask your local laser printer

      I'm sorry, I don't speak astromech.

    • by mea37 ( 1201159 )

      I guess I'm not sure what you want to talk to my printer about. Maybe you're alluding to some story I haven't haerd, but taking it at face value...

      1) The network traffic associated with a printer doesn't look much like the network traffic associated with file-sharing clients.

      2) I rarely print mp3's.

      3) Which networks' admins is this going to confuse, anyway? The LAN admin can see the network address of the printer and sift that out as noise pretty easily. If the LAN is connected (say, via a NAT router) to

    • The agenda probably goes something more like this: They don't care who is on the other end because soon they'll phase out that pesky anonymity because, you know, them terrrrrissts could use it! Yes thats it! Lets kill another Civil Liberty because we can! *Cackles-Evily-As-They-Stuff-Their-Pockets-Full-Of-Money*
  • Of Course... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:47PM (#30219216) Journal
    Anybody who plans on running bittorrent over a prepaid mobile connection is either going to pirate very small files, or end up paying rather more than retail for them...
    • by RobVB ( 1566105 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:49PM (#30219236)

      end up paying rather more than retail for them...

      You can't put a price on freedom!

    • Or you could just do it over "stolen" wifi instead, giving you the bonus of further concealing your tracks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Back in the 1980s people used to charge their long-distance calls for downloading pirated games to other people's calling cards. Perhaps something similar is being done with downloading over cellular dialup/phones?

    • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

      Now. What about in 5 years' time?

    • by Homburg ( 213427 )

      Not really. For 35 pounds, which is the price of 5 albums on itunes, you can get a 7GB package, with which you can download significantly more than 5 albums worth of MP3s, or even FLAC. 35 pounds is the price of about 3 DVDs - again, 7GB lets you download a lot more more than three films in decent quality Xvid.

      It's not cost effective to download complete blue-ray rips over mobile broadband right now; but downloading files over pay-as-you go broadband is not a particularly silly idea.

      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        Not really. For 35 pounds, which is the price of 5 albums on itunes, you can get a 7GB package

        For a few dollars a month you can get a proxy IP service in another country and download as much as you like.

        • Not really. For 35 pounds, which is the price of 5 albums on itunes, you can get a 7GB package

          For a few dollars a month you can get a proxy IP service in another country and download as much as you like.

          ...plus the cost of your domestic broadband connection (in the UK, typically £15-£30 depending on your preference for caps and customer service, so overall not too dissimilar).

      • That's really expensive. Three will offer 15GB/pm for £15/pm. So in movie terms that is three (H264 compressed) blue ray rips at decent quality. I have no idea how expensive blue ray movies are in the UK, but I'm guessing that is a win purely on the monetary scale. Of course, it requires a 24-month contract and there is no guarantee they will still be unable to trace IPs in two years time.

        • That's on contract, so they have your name and address courtesy of the credit check they did when you signed up.

          Although I'm not sure on the progress on NuLabs proposal for everyone to have to hand over verified ID to get a pre-pay phone - this difference may not last for long (think of the terrorists!)

          • True - but Three check identification when you sign up for pay as you go anyway. Or at least, they did when I bought my sim. So they still know who you are.

            The claim in the article is that they can't associate IP addresses with customer details. But I wouldn't actually believe that for a second. Not least because all of these prepay mobile offers have hard usage caps, and they must have some way of tracking usage even if they complain publicly that they can't.

    • It depends on where you live. Here in Denmark, pay-by-the-MB mobile broadband is virtually extinct. Between the various providers, there are 1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, and unlimited monthly plans, with speeds varying from 1 mbit to 16 mbit. If you go over your limit, most providers just stick you in a low priority queue, so you just get a slower connection.

      I've got an unlimited 7 mbit plan, and it is definitely fast enough to run BitTorrent on it. I get at least 4 mbit whenever I'm anywhere near a cell tower.

    • Nuh-uh! My iPhone came with unlimited data!

    • If I'm gonna be torrenting files on my cellphone (like hell I will, but if), I'm gonna be torrenting files *for* my cellphone. A movie in 3gp for a cellphone screen should run you somewhere between 100 and 200 meg, which is quite reasonable depending on your specific data plan and the country you're paying it in.
    • I don't know where you live but here I can just go out to a shop and buy an USB dongle that uses HSDPA. It's pretty fast and I pay a prepaid flat rate.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:49PM (#30219238) Homepage Journal

    Sharing your connection using Joiku with a file-sharing felon might tar you with the same brush. 3 strikes and you're all out.

    Due process? We flushed that crap down the toilet years ago.

    • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:57PM (#30219358)

      All bow to the outdated business model that is the music business of the 50-90s.

      Profits from this *MUST* be protected at the cost of freedom, privacy and progress. /sarcasm (in case of "whoosh")

      Amazing what bribes from robber barons can do to otherwise respectable politicians.

      • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot@@@pitabred...dyndns...org> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:26PM (#30219744) Homepage
        Otherwise respectable? Wasn't the guy who pushed this shit through removed from two elected positions for corruption, and now only holds an appointed position?
        • That is respectable from me for a politician! His peers snub him!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by julesh ( 229690 )

          Wasn't the guy who pushed this shit through removed from two elected positions for corruption, and now only holds an appointed position?

          "Removed for corruption" is perhaps overstating the matter. The first time he resigned because he'd failed to declare an interest that should have been on the public record (although he hadn't actually been personally involved in any decisions where there would be a conflict of interest, his department was handling such a decision). The second time he resigned again, but

      • by gedhrel ( 241953 )

        In this case it was Mandy. "Otherwise respectable"?!

    • Sharing your connection using Joiku with a file-sharing felon might tar you with the same brush. 3 strikes and you're all out.

      Well you're the one deciding to share your connection. Shouldn't it then be your own responsibility to check just exactly -who- you're sharing the thing with?

      If you decide to share your gun - which you only use for plinking - with some random stranger, they shoot somebody, and the ballistics end up matching a gun that's registered to you, you'd have some explaining to do, too.

      Due pr

      • That argument actually has some truth, see: Here [slashdot.org].

        But in France, you are responsible for securing your own network, see: Here [arstechnica.com]. Wonder how long till that migrates across the pond? ACTA [wikipedia.org] anyone? Maybe, whats in that is secret because, you know, trade agreements are of national security...
      • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

        If you decide to share your gun - which you only use for plinking - with some random stranger, they shoot somebody, and the ballistics end up matching a gun that's registered to you, you'd have some explaining to do, too.

        Yes, but you still wouldn't be guilty of murder. And this would still be a reasonable defence - whether or not the jury believe it is another matter.

        "Your honor

        Stop right there - the whole problem with this proposed law is that there is no "honor", and no defence. Whether people are disconn

  • Unbelievable - it's actually close to anonymous? Watch them close this up just as fast as you can say Tor. Is this the case in other countries as well?
    • I believe it is the case in some European countries.

      In the UAE, they wanted a copy of my passport to register a pre-paid phone/sim card.

      In California, I believe I just had to give a valid ZIP code (and that may just be the network's choice rather than law... not sure).

    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      Unbelievable - it's actually close to anonymous?

      No, it actually *is* anonymous. I have pay-as-you-go mobile broadband from 3. I bought the modem and SIM cash, and didn't provide any contact details when I did. I pay for the service using vouchers, bought with cash over the counter at supermarkets. They have no idea who I am, and probably only a vague idea where I am, and that only because I've made no effort to disguise it. If I had refrained from using the modem at home or in places I visit regularly

  • Does this mean the ISP can look into my cd-collection and see that I don't own the right to use a mp3? If so, how? And better yet, how can we stop them.
    • Here in Canada, you can borrow a friends original cd and copy it to a blank cd for your own use. This is legal because of the levy placed on blank media. However, if you own a cd and download a song from that cd from a peer-to-peer network that is illegal as infringement. Someday they'll tie themselves into enough knots that hopefully they'll cut off the blood to their brains.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by santax ( 1541065 )
        In the Netherlands (for now) it's legal to copy music to your cd's (due to levy indeed), it is also still legal to download music/movies from the internet. We can't share it online. But it is legal to borrow a cd to a friend for him to copy on a blanc cd. But after they (music-mafia) have reaped the millions and millions of euro's for many years in a time no-one uses blanc cd's for music anymore they wanted to change the rules. And they did. Lol. There is only 1 explanation for this. The lobby is paying the
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

      Here in the UK, you don't have a right to use the mp3, even if you do own the CD.

      Unless you're Lily Allen, making a "mix tape" of copyrighted material - then it's okay. Even if you fileshare it to push your own career.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Why would ripping your CDs to MP3s be illegal, as long as you don't distribute them? We made cassettes of our LPs for years, and it was specifically legalized in the 1970s before the record and movie companies started bribing Congress.

  • Some basic assumptions are that the ISP uses a Radius server to have people authenticate their mobile network devices on their network. Radius servers record the calling phone number of the sim card. Lookup phone number/sim number against the owner at time of given download? Or is that far too simple?
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      £1 on any boot sale, pound shop, major booksellers, buys you a brand new, completely anonymous (i.e. not requiring activation or any personal details *AT ALL*, even to "top-up") pre-pay SIM card that will work with data products too.

    • And now record EVERY single connection. And I don't mean every time someone logs in with you, the ISP, but I mean EVERY connection, http, ftp, telnet and otherwise, ever done by every single customer, and record source IP, destination IP, time and a few other tidbits. You know how many entries a single webpage, given all the ads, google trackers and other crap littering them, creates? Now extrapolate by the number of your customers and let's be conservative and say they open one page every 5 minutes (creati

    • Yes it is. I can go into my local Three shop, hand over £19.99 in cash for a pay as you go modem, and another £15 for a one month access voucher. They have no idea who I am.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:53PM (#30219302) Journal

    If the record industry wants this data, they can pay for its collection.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BSAtHome ( 455370 )

      So, you are willing to give them investigatory powers. Time to make encryption mandatory then.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        Which is not what he said.

        He said he'd BILL the record companies for the cost, but of course it would still be administered by the ISPs

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by BSAtHome ( 455370 )

          But then, who will be next in line with a big pocket to pay for data and ask the gov for policing some communication. Remember Phorm? Do we /want/ a society where your communication is eavesdropped? That is a trademark of oppressive regimes. It really does not matter whether the ISP is the middleman. No data should be intercepted unless a court-order is provided.

          • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

            No. I'm at the point where I'd like to see the 50 States call a Constitutional Convention, and abolish the United States completely, replacing it with the Articles of Confederation (where the central government was weak).

            • So you are proposing a return to primarily local, "tribal" government, run by unrestrained petty tyrants waving the banner of "states' rights"? Visit Somalia or a country that ends with *stan and see how well that works in the 21st century. BTW, I wouldn't recommend the trip if you are female, gay, or non-muslim.

              • No but at least the capital in my *democratic* Republic State is only a few miles away, rather than on the other side of the continent (DC) and out-of-reach. It makes logical sense to move the power closer to the people at the State level.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Why? They can just buy the laws to criminalize it, then use your tax dollars to enforce it.

  • Retarded (Score:4, Informative)

    by BlackCreek ( 1004083 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:54PM (#30219320)

    Outright retarded article... Mobile data fees are so expensive that this whole story it makes no sense whatsoever

    I've seen plenty of slow news days here where kdawson decided to publish non-sense, but this is a new low.

    • There's nothing wrong with forward thinking. As mobile broadband becomes faster and cheaper, which it inevitably will, this will become more and more of an issue. Potentially, people can and will use their mobile provider as their sole ISP. Meaning, if they want to do file-sharing, it will be over their mobile network.
      • By the time it becomes affordable to run torrents on mobile broadband, there will be NO issue with law enforcement of file sharing restrictions. So I really don't see the point.

    • Well there's mobile (netbook/notebook USB things) plans...
      http://mobile.broadbandgenie.co.uk/3g-broadband [broadbandgenie.co.uk]

      Neither of which seem to be 'so expensive' or have ridiculous limits. Granted, I haven't read the fineprint.

      It might not be -cellphone- mobile, but it's certainly using the cellular networks.

      I'd dig up a cellphone plan, but as in the U.S. and NL, finding details on plans on operators' sites is next-to-impossible. I'd imagine T-Mobile offers their web-and-walk plan in the UK as well, though.

    • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

      And what do you think it will be like in 5 or 10 years' time?

      The bottom line is that, aside from the legislation being bad for many reasons, it will be outpaced by technology in a matter of years. The flip side is that the Government uses this as as argument for mandatory monitoring and registration of mobile networks - we need to be watchful of this, before it's too late.

      Unfortunately there is already a catch - thanks to "OMG Think Of The Children" paranoia, all mobile broadband in the UK (AFAIK) has censo

    • Unlimited EDGE is certainly faster than 56k and slower DSL

    • It depends where you are. Here in Sweden, I can get a mobile broadband stick for free from a provider and get 20GB of bandwidth a month for 199sek.

      In fact this is what I use for my home internet, as there is no landline connection to my house. Telia wants 10000sek to install one, so I told them where to stick it :)

    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      Outright retarded article... Mobile data fees are so expensive that this whole story it makes no sense whatsoever

      15GB for £20 still costs somewhat less than buying original copies of most of what you'd be downloading. Sure, it's more expensive than a fixed line phone deal, but if you need it anyway (e.g. for accessing email while on the road) then it's probably actually more cost effective than having two subscriptions.

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:57PM (#30219364) Journal

    Who hijacked slashdot for this "story"? Is the slashdot torrent tracker next? I guess it's not too far a stretch. Instead of 100 inane "frist post" comments they're all be converted to "Please seed" instead. Instead of flamewars about Apple, Microsoft, or Google, we can all start flames about the torrents containing viruses or whose torrent of the latest 0 dayz warez is better than whose. Welcome to the new slashdot. Not so different to the old!

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      We the People have granted a *temporary* monopoly to authors so they earn some money off their product. This monopoly is intended to benefit the People by enriching our lives, and the lives of the authors, not to go-around ruining various citizens lives with million-dollar court punishments and/or threatening persons with $5000 extortionate letters ("pay up or else"). We the People gave these authors a generous monopoly over their works, and they have abused it. Like a kid who takes crayons and s

      • Please see this: Thread [slashdot.org] for some suitable outrage yay! But also, please see this: Book [thepublicdomain.org] (its a free download) for facts.
  • I don't think FSOSA (free speech or stone age) had this (somewhat middle ground) scenario in mind, but it rhymes quite a bit.

    Basically, you can't quash speech unless people can't access laptops and wireless cards. Period. You either go back to the stone age or accept arbitrary, free speech.

    But in this case you don't even need to resort to some grassroots, duct-taped together community mesh network - you just need to get one or two abstractions away from the proper "Internet" and you're already there. Whi

  • For those who haven't RTFA, they're pretty much just saying that mobile networks in the UK use NAT for their data connections so there's no way to narrow connections to one user.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Verdatum ( 1257828 )
      And this will stop being true for LTE (4g). Since the handset acts as a server for certain communications, it requires at least one dedicated IP address per active subscriber. Mobile File-sharing won't be a major issue until 4G proliferates anyway.
  • The solution to the problem of file sharing is very simple. All they need do is put a government program on the computer that monitors everything the user does and reports to the people assigned to monitor the citizens. Better yet would be to build this into the government mandated operating system or even better, government mandated hardware dongle. Problem solved. After all, no one's under the delusion that they have a right to privacy anymore, right?
    • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
      and if you could not turn the government propaganda sound off, even better.
    • Don't get ahead of yourself! Thats only in tentative planning for now! Need more bribes, er.. campaign donations, before it moves further than that!
    • Sounds very nazi like.. the people watching the people. uggg...

    • > The solution to the problem of file sharing is very simple.

      It is indeed: just stop downloading and acquiring, legally or illegally, the ``content'' that these companies produce.

      Do something else instead of being spoon-fed entertainment. Go for a swim, meet up with friends for a chat or wonder at the stars.

  • Filesharing is "the perfect crime" in any situation which doesn't involve horrible crippling of networks. There has NEVER been a solid mapping between "person" and "network route", and there never will be on any sane network architecture.

  • Root Conflict (Score:3, Interesting)

    by headkase ( 533448 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:24PM (#30219708)
    There is a book called, The Public Domain [thepublicdomain.org] written by a professor of law from the Duke Law School. You can download an electronic version legally and for free from that link. It outlines the conflicts facing areas of creativity like the arts and sciences and explains the history of how it came to be so enclosed. It also does not pull any punches, it supports industry where deserved and advocates Citizen interests where right. It certainly is a lot better than my rants and raves when I scream: I Want My Public Domain [slashdot.org] ! Although he has more reasons to be tactful than I. Inform yourself, read the free book. I am and once I'm done I'm going to go read some Pirate Party propaganda to see if it is compatible with the good professor.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @06:26PM (#30219736) Homepage Journal

    And require all devices to be registered, with clients shimmed into your ip stack being required to access anything online. This is where it will end up. Everyone will be running something like the old netzero client .. ack.

    Remember only terrorists and pirates want to be anonymous... You have nothing to hide.. do you ?

    • by Spad ( 470073 )

      As I posted above, over 50% of the UK mobile phone market is made up of pre-paid phones; it would be utterly devastating to the industry to do away with PAYG phones.

      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        I didn't say ban prepaid. I said ban *anonymous* prepaid. I can see them requiring ID to buy a device, and then track additional minutes you buy back to a particular device.

  • >According to the article, databases (tracking IP address mappings) could be built to make it possible to identify what specific users are downloading

    Exactly how is knowing an IP address mapping going to tell anyone which SPECIFIC USER is doing anything? It might tell you which account is doing something. But last I checked, that doesn't tie to a person. Any number of people might use a single IP address. At work, we have 150+ users behind a single IP address.

    So, an account holder will be guilty, reg

    • by Spad ( 470073 )

      Unfortunately, it's a long-standing tradition that IP addresses should be used as a unique identifier; we've got 1.3 million people [www.nhs.uk] behind a handful of IP addresses at work and it causes no end of fun when people like Microsoft decide to blacklist them within Live Mail for sending too high a volume of email and therefore being a spam bot, which they've done twice this year so far..

    • Heh, should start a cooperative-run ISP connected to the bone which all it does is route traffic through network address translation! Would that work?
  • Making laws is easy when it is a vetted and money'd interest on one side and some upstart disruptive ne'er do well on the other. Things get a bit more complicated when there is influence on both sides of the issue. How can lawmakers possibly know what is right when there are bribes available on both sides of an issue? It is an unreasonable thing we ask of them -- ultimately they have to try to predict which side will be able to give them more money in the future.

  • ... all this really does is give them more dead horse to beat on.

    All the while not considering that piracy is so widespread it is best described as 'natural' and is found ubiquitous among the poor, rich, educated, ignorant, moral, and immoral. Piracy is almost as common as laughing, and probably more popular than religion.

    No.... lets pretend this is a curable disease; an infestation of the people's perception that can be righted..... lets beat this frikking horse to pieces and when the path gets awkward, b

  • I have a Vodafone mobile dongle and it costs me £15 per 1GB for pre-pay and they are hardly the cheapest ones out there.

    They don't have my name or any other contact information on me (I went to the store in person, bought the dongle and paid in cash) so anything I do through it cannot be associated with my name (as long as I never "load more money" into that account with a credit/debit card).

    That said, at £15 a GB, file-sharing is only really worth it if what you're downloading is music (in the

  • by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Wednesday November 25, 2009 @06:40AM (#30224424)
    The Government loves Rupert Murdoch and the media companies - I must kill filesharers! But the Government loves Vodafone, O2 and Three - I must protect the revenue of the telephone companies! There is a conflict in my Prime Directive!

    Head explodes.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire