Germany’s Wi-Fi crunch looks set to ease after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition agreed to remove legal quirks that have held providers of public hotspots liable for what users do online through their networks.
After months of wrangling over fine print, government parties Wednesday agreed to change a law so that small-scale Wi-Fi operators won’t be sued when customers illegally download music or movies, Merkel’s Christian Democrat-led group in parliament said by e-mail. Instead, Germany will explore ways to “dry out” the revenue streams of illegal download portals, it said.
Travelers who are used to checking e-mail for free around the world are often hit by an unpleasant surprise when searching for Wi-Fi in Germany. Fearing lawsuits, many restaurants, cafes and hotels have restricted access to their hotspots or don’t offer them, meaning visitors struggle to connect or end up paying expensive mobile roaming fees. That’s now set to change, government officials say.
“The path to more free Wi-Fi is finally free,” German Justice and Consumer Protection Minister Heiko Maas said on his Twitter account. Getting rid of the liability rule was “an overdue an important step.”
The decision ties into Germany’s “digital agenda” aimed at blanketing the country with high-speed Internet by 2018, backing the digitalization of industry and defending Europe’s biggest economy against attacks by cybercriminals.
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This article was written by Stefan Nicola from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.