A short article in Salon comes across a bit too innocently, about someone who has decided to open up their WiFi access to anyone close enough to use it in order to deny any responsibility for any illegal traffic that goes over his network. This isn't a new argument. It's been used before. The problem is that it's unlikely to work. We've pointed out in the past that all of the RIAA's lawsuits against individuals contain no proof that that particular individual was sharing files, but that hasn't stopped the courts from deeming them valid (though, no one has really tested it yet). In this particular article, the guy uses Comcast, and even taunts them that he'll deny any responsibility if he gets accused of sharing music or movie files. Of course, Comcast will immediately cut him off for violating his terms of service that say he can't share his account via WiFi. In theory, he could even be charged with a felony for helping to share an internet connection. Meanwhile, the article attempts to raise deeper issues that we've touched on before about whose responsibility is it if you get hacked. Is it your own responsibility for having weak security? The writer of this article seems to think that's a perfectly valid excuse - even though he's purposely setting the system up with weak security. Considering the recent fines by the government against companies that set up weak security that allowed them to get hacked, he might not have much of an argument. All of that being said, I do think sharing WiFi is a good idea - if your ISP allows you to do it. I think more ISPs should allow (or even encourage) users to share their connection via WiFi, because it makes the connection that much more useful. That doesn't mean there aren't security concerns, but those can be dealt with if the person setting up the system, and those connecting to it are smart about how they do so.
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