Some entrepreneurs may soon find themselves with a tough choice to make. You can continue to offer customers free Wi-Fi or you can risk getting arrested. And the kicker is you may not even be aware your business is committing a “crime.”
There’s a move afoot to crack down on illegal web downloads from sites like BitTorrent and Mega. Now called Six Strikes (and once known as the “Copyright Alert System” program), the idea is to scare folks who illegally download music, movies, etc. The big ISPs (Internet Service Providers) like Verizon and Comcast are behind the push to stop the downloads, which according to a report in New York Magazine, costs the economy about $58 billion annually, and “educate” the public about copyright infringement.
This may sound like it’s an individual problem, but the threat to small business owners who offer free Wi-Fi in their restaurants, coffee shops or other locations is real. The problem is many small operations provide the Wi-Fi through a residential Internet connection, which is the subject of the crackdown. If your customers are regularly downloading or distributing pirated content from your establishment, you could be liable.
Since discontinuing free Wi-Fi is not a good customer service policy, you should consider upgrading to business-level Internet connection.