The Frankfurt court of appeals has ruled in favor of a German citizen, accused of sharing copyrighted music files over the Internet. The defendant had been previously ruled guilty, though he pled that someone else was guilty of the offense, using his open wifi hotspot. The court of appeals recognized that there was insufficient evidence to prove the defendant guilty in the first place, and that German citizens are not automatically guilty of offenses committed by others, using their unrestricted Internet connections. Read this arstechnica.com article
This may be great news for Foneros in Germany who worry about their liabilities, when they provide a Fon hotspot! Fon does not consider their hotspots “open”, but neither do they really qualify as “closed”. Fon hotspots are not encrypted, and Internet access can be obtained instantly, without proving one’s identity. Additionaly, a hacker might sniff traffic in order to capture an Alien’s Fon session cookies, then spoof their MAC address, to continue their valid Fon session after the Alien has shut her PC down for the day.
Unfortunately, there have been similar incidents here in the USA, where the courts did not accept the “open hotspot” defense. So far, none of these has involved a Fon hotspot. It remains to be seen whether Fon will provide evidence which could exonerate an innocent suspect.