In one of the weirdest arrests of the year, at least five bar and cafe managers from the French city of Grenoble were taken into custody last week for running open WiFi networks at their establishments and not keeping logs of past connected users.
The bar and cafe owners were arrested for allegedly breaking a 14-year-old French law that dictates that all internet service providers must keep logs on all their users for at least one year.
According to local media reports [1, 2, 3], the bar and cafe owners claimed they were not aware that such a law even existed, let alone that it applied to them as they had not received notifications from their union, which usually sends alerts of industry-wide legal requirements.
Nonetheless, French media pointed out that the law’s text didn’t only apply to internet service providers (ISPs) in the broad meaning of the word — as in telecommunications providers — but also to any “persons” who provide internet access, may it be free of charge or via password-protected networks.
The bar and cafe owners were eventually released after questioning.
According to French law number 2006-64, they now risk up to one year in prison, a personal fine of up to €75,000, and a business fine of up to €375,000.
Connection logging is a feature supported on most commercial routers and has been added for this specific reason, as countries around the world began introducing data logging laws for their local ISPs.
Law enforcement agencies often rely on these logs to track down malicious behavior or details about suspects using public WiFi networks to commit crimes.
One in four Britons use TikTok every month, with 17 million regulars spending just over an hour a day on the app, signaling the upstart social network has built a local following almost half as large as Facebook Inc.’s in just three years.
The data, seen by Bloomberg and contained within a presentation this summer from TikTok’s marketing solutions arm, TikTok for Business, shows that among that group four in 10 are between the ages of 18 and 24 as monthly active users, so-called MAUs. The average Brit uses the app for 66 minutes a day and opens TikTok 13 times in 24 hours.
In comparison, marketing and research firms We Are Social and Hootsuite estimate Facebook has 37 million users in the U.K.
TikTok has grown prodigiously as more people seek entertainment during lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus. A similar presentation distributed in the first quarter of the year pegged TikTok at 10 million regular users in the U.K. A TikTok representative in London declined to comment on the data.
Despite travails in the U.S., where President Donald Trump has threatened to ban it, and India, where the government barred it from citizens’ phones, TikTok has continued to grow elsewhere in the world. Its signature shortform video has proven so popular that Instagram, owned by Facebook, rolled out a competing offering, Reels, earlier this summer, while Google followed with YouTube Shorts, which shares similarities with TikTok.
The future of TikTok’s U.K. business is unlikely to get caught in the crossfire between the U.S. and China. Trump ordered parent company ByteDance to sell its U.S. arm on grounds of national security and privacy—but the U.K. business is to remain under ByteDance’s Chinese owners. Some other details from around Europe: