[ffii] Still no 'safe harbour' in sight for wireless technologies in Europe

arebenti at ffii.org arebenti at ffii.org
Wed May 26 22:59:44 CEST 2010

[ Europe / Wireless / Consumers]
Still no 'safe harbour' in sight for wireless technologies in Europe

Berlin, May 27th 2010  -- Following a recent high court judgement in
Germany wireless networks are becoming a legal concern for consumers
running open WiFi hotspots. Lawyers and lobby organisations are sending
automated cease and desist letters to consumers who have an "insecure"
WiFi access point, accusing them of helping unauthorized file sharing by
offering open WiFi internet connections.

"The campaign against WiFi open access is misguided. You may also use a
phone to issue a bomb threat, but that does not seem a valid argument for
banning public phone booths", argues René Mages, vice president of the
Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII).

A year and a half ago the European Parliament urged the European
Commission to examine measures to provide a 'safer harbour' for wireless
technology. Specifically, a wireless spectrum resolution called upon the
Commission to:
        "...propose steps to reduce legal liabilities in the context of
wireless mesh network provision".

"So far European Commissioner Neelie Kroes has simply ignored this request
from the European Parliament and sits the problem out while consumers lose
confidence.", explains Mages.

The campaign against open WiFi generates fear and uncertainty that
consumers and also entrepreneurs react to. "Technology adoption is stifled
by such 'unsafe harbour' policies in Europe. Consequently, commercial
wireless services fail to take off and generate jobs. In Asia, we are
moving forward without overburdening interference from the content
industry", says Mario Behling from the Freifunk.net mesh initiative who
recently relocated his business to Vietnam. Behling adds anecdotal
evidence: "My Vietnamese fiancée was puzzled when she visited Brussels:
Wireless access in public areas like central squares, parks, airports or
train stations is limping way behind."


BGH press release on BGH Az. I ZR 121/08 (German)

Reto Mantz reflections on BGH Az. I ZR 121/08 (German)

European Parliament resolution 24 Sept 2008:
"Common approach to the use of  the spectrum released by the digital

Freifunk.net wireless technology group

Permanent link to this press release:


Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
bhenrion at ffii.org

About FFII

The FFII is a not-for-profit association active in twenty European
countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the
public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards.
More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have
entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public  policy questions
concerning exclusion rights ("intellectual property") in  data processing.

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