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It’s been a few days since the controversial Digital Economy Bill got the final approval from Parliament, now it only needs Royal Assent to become law.

Despite a concerted and impressive online lobbying campaign, it seems that party politics was more important than Twitter outcry.

But now the dust has settled the time has come to give the bill and all its last minute amendments some scrutiny. One thing that immediately sprung out to me on reading the bill was its assumption that IP address equates to an individual.

Much has been made of this connection when talking about War-Drivers hacking your router or shared wi-fi access points in cafes, but my mind immediately thought of another situation where IP addresses are shared across hundreds, if not thousands, of users - 3G mobile phones.

When mobile phone customers connect to a 3G network using an iPhone or similar they aren’t always allocated a unique IP address. More often than not they just cycle through IP addresses.

To quote Richard Clayton of Cambridge University, who's a bit of an expert on the subject:


Mobile phone companies are using Network Address Translation on a massive scale to allow hundreds of Internet access customers to share a single IP address.
 In practice the NAT logging records, that record the mapping from IP address to customer, are available for only a short time — or may not exist at all.


I’m the first to admit I’m no expert in how the DEBill is expected implemented, or the mobile technology behind the scenes, but on searching the bill there doesn’t seem to be any mentions of NAT or the Port technology behind it.

Meaning banning an IP address being used to contravene the bill/act on a mobile device could have far wider reaching impact than it would on a home device.

Perhaps the title of this piece is a bit of an exaggeration, but it seems either the mobile companies are going to need to keep far more comprehensive records, unless groups of users get their access removed based on an IP address lottery.

Kelvin Newman

Published 15 April, 2010 by Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman is SiteVisibility's Creative Director and is the editor of the UK's most listened to Marketing Podcast. He also spends his time at conferences, tweeting too much and working on top secret research and development projects. He's also on Google+

21 more posts from this author

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Miles Bennett

Another example that the Labour government simply doesn't get it!

about 6 years ago

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Mark Bolitho, New Business Director - Ecommerce at more2

I may have dreamt it, but isn't there going to be some kind of GPS-based methodology for distinguishing individual users using 3G phones?

about 6 years ago

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George - Planet Anarky

You make a very good point: I'd not considered that...

about 6 years ago

Kelvin Newman

Kelvin Newman, Creative Director at SiteVisibility

@Mark - I hadn't heard that about the GPS but if it is that's really creepy, monitoring you usage is one thing, monitoring your location is another! I really don't expect huge numbers of users to get banned but it does show another loophole/fault in the bill/act

about 6 years ago

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Chris

"Another example that the Labour government simply doesn't get it!" You mean another example of how *MPs* don't get it. I didn't see the Torys trying too hard to get it delayed... ;)

about 6 years ago

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Andy Kleeman

Interesting thoughts Kelvin, the 3G thing hadn't even crossed my mind although mass downloading over 3G would be unlikely I'm sure mobile internet will improve and evolve over time. The Debill is going to be a very tough thing to police - it would help if a single member of Parliament understood it.

about 6 years ago

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Dave Levy

Pursuit will start with the BPI and their agents. There will be no equity in this search, it'll be about rate of return.Who is it cheapest to threaten?

I suppose it all depends if they can tell the difference between phone users and computer users and if they are doing anything more sopisticated than looking for bit torrent traffic. 

Its quite funny though, can we really see the telcos sending letters to all users of the address because one person is using their mobile phone as a modem to access some copyrighted content. Do they know?

Will the mobile phone companies become sites "likely to infringe"?

about 6 years ago

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anon2

don't be fooled if labour drop the #debill gambit in the week, or night, before the election.

they have nothing to win by alienating well just about everyone.

about 6 years ago

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