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Internet laws for holiday cottages – am I responsible?

 

With the immense popularity of laptops, tablets and smartphones and today’s culture of instant-information, the demand for public WiFi access has soared. From cafes to holiday homes, business owners are hard-pressed to ignore the pressure to provide quality internet access; but what are the risks and internet laws involved?

 

A recent survey we carried out showed that 94% of Classic Cottages’ guests prefer to have access to the internet whilst on holiday. However, when providing a WiFi hotspot service you need to be aware of potential issues that may arise, as well as the legal implications.

The main risks you need to be aware of, and protected from, are:

 

  • Copyright infringement
  • Illegal activity via the internet
  • Data protection
  • Data retention

 

You should also be prepared for:

 

  • Liability for loss of data or damage to equipment and software

 

Whilst the vast majority of WiFi users just want to find out where the nearest pub or restaurant is and where they can take their dog for a walk, there is an unfortunate minority who use public WiFi services to illegally download materials, like music and films, and access inappropriate sites.

This is a universal problem, and the UK government has reacted by implementing a series of laws to regulate the way in which WiFi services are used. Largely, this resolves around data capturing, and registering user details before they can access your internet.

Unfortunately, as the WiFi provider, you are the one held responsible. This means that, regardless of how you personally use your internet, if your guests’ use violates any laws, you are the one who is liable for prosecution if you cannot prove it wasn’t you.

Capturing user data therefore is crucial. Taking details such as names, email addresses, logging URLs visited and also filtering content helps to manage how your WiFi is being used, and also places liability on the individual user and not you. It all sounds a bit ‘Big Brother’, but just think of it as a back-up plan if anything does go awry.

Although they are subject to change, you are responsible for making sure users comply under the following laws:

 

  • The Data Protection Act
  • European Directive for Data Retention Regulations 2009
  • The Code of Practice (Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001)
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
  • Digital Economy Act 2010

 

So, keep your Cottage Information Folder up-to-date with what you expect from your guests and if you’ve any further questions, you’re best off contacting the appropriate authorities direct as this one is outside of the jurisdiction of your holiday cottage agency.

 

See other articles on all things WiFi.

 

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