Our WLAN solutions are secure – we only use high-quality hardware – and our firewalls filter the traffic in two geo-redundant and highly available data centers.
We make sure that all illegal, immoral or other prohibited content of websites are blocked.
Even after the removal of the Störerhaftung, we ensure against litigation expenses by blocking requests from rights holders, such as the music and film industry. And, if the laws change in the future, we implement and maintain WLAN settings so that, in the event of a dispute, you will incur no costs or damages!
Opinion on Amendments to the Telemedia Act of 30 June 2017
On Friday, June 30, 2017, the Bundestag adopted the Federal Government’s bill on the third amendment to the Telemedia Act. The aim of this amendment is that internet access operators can offer access to third parties in the future, without being prosecuted for violations of the law at the hands of users. The scope of the limitation of liability was regulated.
The aim of the bill was to clarify the extent of the limitation of liability in the TMG for internet access providers. In addition, these should be exempted from a large part of the previously existing cost bearing obligation, especially in the case of warnings. Finally, it is clarified that WLAN operators should not be required by an authority to register users, refrain from offering their WLAN, or request the entry of a password, although this remains possible on a voluntary basis. Likewise, it is clearly stated under which conditions internet providers may restrict use in order to prevent repeat offenses.
No More Interference Liability, But …
Basically, internet operators are no longer required to register the user or to ask for a password. (§ 8 Abs. 4 TMG), though this authentication scheme is still possible on a voluntary basis.
The internet access operator – if he is not a party to an infraction or illegal act – can no longer be sued for damages, nor is he required to provide compensation, service elimination, or content omission due to an infringement. The same applies with regard to all costs for the assertion and enforcement of these claims (§ 8 para. 1 sentence 2 TMG).
With these changes, the path is clear for wireless network providers to offer free internet without requiring a password. The benefits and dangers of this are explained by ABL Social Federation.
What does that mean for the users?
With the removal of the Störerhaftung, anyone can make his wireless public – without having to fear ads. In the future, many WLAN instances will be created because of these changes. For the users of smartphones and laptops, this rapid propagation of free internet is highly advantageous. These WLAN instances will save both tourists and locals on costly data usage.
For the providers (cities, tradesmen)
If intellectual property rights are violated by a user on a public WLAN, and the owner of the device providing internet access is not at fault, the owner of the WLAN must block the use of information to prevent a recurrence of the infringement (§ 8 para. 3 TMG; § 7 Abs. 4 TMG).
Although an operator can offer customers free Wi-Fi access, rights holders, such as music and film industry sites, can require the operator of the hotspot to block certain pages, if they fear or have detected intellectual property rights violations. Although these blocks are relatively easy to implement for large providers, it is likely that providers who do not have their own IT division will face problems.
The disadvantages and problems associated with the change of law from the point of view of potential operators/internet access providers are considerable:
1. The problem of network locks
In order to adequately protect intellectual property and to comply with European law, rights-holders have the option of requiring individual WLAN operators to block content to prevent repeat infringements on intellectual property rights. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the right holder has no other means of remedying the violation of his right and that the blocking measure is reasonable and proportionate. The out-of-court costs for the enforcement of such blocks may not be imposed on the WLAN operator.
These blocks correspond to a network lock, which routinely experiences fundamental criticism. Network blocks interfere with the right to freedom of information of internet users.
2. Enforcement of the network locks possible without judicial order and examination.
No court order is required for a rights holder to request a block. Thus, there is no legal review process followed when a rights holder requests a block.
3. Cost risks
The adopted regulations regarding costs do not go far enough to protect the WLAN operator. Although the internet access provider is exempted from the attorney’s fees, the responsibility for court costs remains, according to the distribution of responsibility provided by the BMWi. Irrespective of the court or out-of-court use of the internet access provider, this will result in high internal administrative costs. In addition, the blocking itself results in costs to the operator.
4. Proof of network lock success is required
In addition, the law lacks further clarification. internet access providers owe obviously not only a concrete measure – the blocking – but also proof of success, i.e., the unavailability of the content in question. If success is not achieved, despite the development of reasonable, concrete actions, the process costs and, as a result, the process cost risk falls to the internet service provider. So far, the effectiveness of internet blocking cannot be proven. Because of the change in the law, the operator/internet access provider is burdened with the risk of internet blocking and the liability risk of potential over-blocking. For these cases, the law lacks a liability exemption. There is also no clarification that the legal consequences of non-success or inadequate measures.
That’s what Bitkom says …
Bitkom welcomes abolition in principle.
“The push for free hotspots, and therefore for access to the digital world, could be far greater. With the end of the WLAN-Störerhaftung, we simultaneously set new hurdles,” says Rohleder.
The change in the law introduces a blocking verdict, which causes problems for hotspot operators. In the event of copyright infringement, such as the illegal download of films or music titles, the rights-holder can obtain a block of content, which must be implemented by the WLAN operator.
“The blocking requests mean a lot of effort for the hotspot operators, be it a student flat-share, a café or a telecommunications company,” says Rohleder.
A possible legal dispute with the right holder threatens financial risks for the WLAN provider.
“We, therefore, demand that illegal content is deleted instead of burdening hotspot operators with blocking requests – especially as it is generally technically easy to avoid blocking,” says Rohleder.
Security of Your Own Network
Hackers can log into a public WLAN without a password and read the traffic with simple tools.
Free access also gives criminals the possibility to offer their own WLAN accesses (e.g., via the SSID of a public client “‘Free WLAN City XYZ”) to share private or individually identifying information, i.e., bank data or other confidential information of the users.
Although a provider remains supposedly guiltless, often, the resulting social media fallout can cause lasting damage.
Public, non-password-protected WLANs also increase the risk for the users who are required to contact the provider first.
To avoid the risks mentioned above, you should have a public WLAN operated by a professional WLAN provider.
The Assumption of Security and Legal Expenses
Adjustments to the WLAN, setting changes in response to changes to the law, along with the assumption of expenses in legal disputes remain with the WLAN provider.
The location provider thus incurs neither costs nor damages in the event of a legal issue.
Use of Special Content Filters
Using up-to-date content filters, unlawful, immoral or otherwise prohibited contents of websites are filtered or blocked, including:
- Pornographic Content: Content that is sexually offensive, pornographic in the sense of § 184 StGB, are suitable to seriously endanger children or adolescents or interfere with their well-being.
- Peer-to-Peer Connections: The offering and/or exploitation of copyrighted works on file-sharing networks.
- Hacking: Illegal intrusion or use of data processing systems or networks.
- Violence or Racist Content: Content that serves incitement to sedition or glorifies or trivializes violence.
- Phishing: Attempts to gain access to personal information about an internet user via fake websites, e-mails or short messages, thereby committing identity theft.
- Guidelines for Committing Crime: Including, but not limited to bomb-making, illegal arms procurement, drug manufacturing, etc.
Even after elimination of the disturbance liability, there remains a permanent risk and possibility of incalculable expenses for operators of public WLANs who provide services without the use of professional security measures.