One of the coffeeshops I go to had their internet down the other day. Their ISP had cut them off temporarily because of filesharing going on there. Over the past few months, their network has been down several times because of this. One employee said the coffeeshop owner had been getting warnings and lists of pirated material going over his network, but he ignored it. Apparently, they’re supposed to setup a computer to filter what stuff is accessible over their network. Once they get that up and running in a few days, their ISP will give them a slower internet service and put them on “probation”. At least it didn’t seem to hurt the coffeeshop’s business; they were pretty packed.
It’s kind of too bad that coffeeshops end up being responsible for things their users are doing. I was sort of wondering how this would play out with piracy, because, while ISPs can cutoff people’s home internet, it’s harder for coffeeshops because they can’t really monitor what their users are doing and there’s so many different people that some of them will be filesharing. The website filtering system is something I hadn’t thought of, though.
On a similar note, I noticed that when I connect to the Starbucks internet, a screen briefly appears showing the MAC address of my computer. (The MAC address is a unique number contained inside your network hardware.) I couldn’t help but think that maybe they were linking people’s MAC addresses to their internet surfing. Theoretically, this could allow them to ban your computer from all the Starbucks. Your MAC address never changes, not even if you install a new hard drive and Operating System. (I guess that’s not entirely true. You could buy a new network card, though most people aren’t going to do that.) I sort of wonder if Starbucks has been banning people for pirating. Afterall, if the ISPs are cutting off service to coffeeshops for filesharing, then Starbucks might be protecting itself from ISP cutoffs by banning the offenders’ laptops.