WCM Blog: Stumberg Weighs In on Wi-Fi
Editor's Note: In May, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) was requested to look into the issue of whether there could be liability associated with campgrounds offering wireless access to their guests and potential copyright infringement. ARVC requested its consulting firm, McDermott, Will & Emery (MWE), to conduct initial research on the subject. MWE concluded that there may be some risks associated with offering wireless Internet access on their premises. Click here to read the entire release. Eric Stumberg, co-founder and CEO of TengoInternet, offered this response to the ARVC release at the request of Woodall's Campground Management.
The MWE press release raises valid concerns about the risks of operating a commercial Internet service. As we have communicated to our customers and the industry for several years, an operator has a potential liability for the activity of their guests. This liability can be mitigated but it is real liability and illegal activities exist.
The challenge for a Wi-Fi network operator is that the activity of the guests is traced to the nearest modem at the location (the modem of the DSL, Cable, Satellite or T-1 provider), not to users inside the Wi-Fi network. In particular, we are seeing a higher incidence of copyright infringement – see the recent note from Verizon below sent to a customer:
"We are writing to advise you that Verizon recently received a notification from a copyright owner of a possible copyright violation that appears to involve your Verizon Online account… While this activity may have occurred without your permission or knowledge…. as the primary account holder, you are legally responsible for all activity originating from your account."
We also recommend the operators maintain the ability to track and control devices by MAC address or account. In addition, because recent legislation also considered keeping records of use for at leas two years, we recommend storing account data for law enforcement access or copyright visibility.
As illegal activity on the Internet continues to grow, campgrounds will increasingly face this challenge. Fortunately, there are easy solutions available to implement in order to protect operators.
Eric B. Stumberg
2009/2010 & 2010/2011 ARVC Supplier of the Year