The internet is a wonderful place where you can do pretty much anything you like. From making new friends to reconnecting with old ones, to watching your favourite TV shows and then doing your food shopping. Most of our activities involve it in some way.
But the web is still a confusing place in many ways, with different laws across different countries and no clear code of conduct in place meaning that the dos and don’ts are blurred.
Downloaded a movie from somewhere other than an official source? Tweaked your IP address to get different content? Or maybe even shared a GIF? In theory it can all land you in trouble.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common “didn’t realise it was illegal” web activities. You’ll never browse the same way again.
1. Tweeting IP addresses
So you find yourself overseas and want to stream Netflix or iPlayer, what do you do? Some might have a mess around with their VPN in order to make it seem like they’re in the US or UK. Yep, that’s definitely not legal. Playing with your IP to make yourself anonymous is also a big no-no for obvious reasons surrounding accountability.
Seems like an obvious one, but the rules are stricter than you might think. In the US any communication that contains even the notion of a threat or suggesting violence – even in a sarcastic conversation, can be considered illegal. The punishment is up to 5 years in prison! Maybe cool the “banter”.
Yes ok, torrenting itself isn’t illegal – but most of the things that are torrented (music, movies) make it so.
4. TV Streams
Are you watching something online for free that isn’t from an official source like ITV Player? Yep, that’s illegal.
5. Using someone else’s WiFi
We’ve all probably been there – your WiFi goes down and you notice someone nearby hasn’t got a password on theirs so you jump on and carrying on surfing. If it’s a non-public WiFi that means you’re not paying for it, which means you’re stealing internet. That one is definitely a crime.
6. Sharing GIFs and Memes
This one surprised even us. While fair use can be argued, it is illegal to use copyrighted material without permission. Lifting it straight from the source will get you in the most trouble.
7. Password Sharing
That’s giving someone unauthorised access to a service they haven’t paid for. You guessed it, that’s a crime.
8. YouTube Uploads
Similar to the copyrighted photos earlier, uploading anything you don’t own the rights to might see the lawyers come knocking.
9. Taking selfies while voting
This made the news during the European elections earlier this year. Taking a selfie while in the voting booth breaches laws surrounding the privacy of voting. Go to Holland however, and voting selfies are all the rage.
10. Becoming anonymous
This is seen as a facilitator for crime and as a result assuming a made-up name online is advised against, and can land you in hot water.
11.Using Facebook under the age of 13
This one is something of a surprise – Facebook users, according to the site’s terms and conditions, must be over the age of 13.
12. Making a parody account
According to Twitter, if you don’t declare in your account bio that you’re a parody then you leave yourself open to more visits from those pesky lawyers.