We've written about various news articles, often in small local newspapers, writing ridiculous, fearful stories about wardrivers, suggesting that they can do all sorts of nefarious things. For some reason, it seems that plenty of people who don't understand wireless technology absolutely assume the worst about wardriving, when the details make that very hard to support. Remember the case where a guy was arrested for: (a) driving the wrong way down a one way street (b) driving without any pants on (c) using a laptop while driving (d) using that laptop to download child porn (e) which he accessed via a free WiFi connection -- and it was the use of the unsecured WiFi access point that got all the attention? There just seems to be something about people using an open WiFi network that sets people off in the wrong direction. The latest, as is being discussed at both Broadband Reports and WiFi Networking News, is a silly story about somebody getting arrested and charged with a felony just for surfing the internet from his car over someone's open WiFi network. The article goes on and on and on about the evils of wardriving, while briefly mentioning towards the end that it isn't always to do anything illegal or bad. Of course, it spends plenty of time talking about how people could war drive and do something illegal and never get caught -- never once noting the irony that the whole point of this article is because someone got caught. As we've pointed out before, the idea that using an open network is bad because criminals would never get caught is a total red herring, as plenty of more traditional means of detective work can still be used to track down the criminal. Just because something can make you anonymous, doesn't mean it automatically is illegal. Wouldn't the same argument be used againt any anonymizer sites? Also, as Glenn points out at WNN, some (though, not many) ISPs encourage users to open up their WiFi and let people use it -- so it's even entirely possible that this guy was doing something that was allowed. Whether or not he was doing anything else illegal is a different question -- but simply accessing the WiFi doesn't seem likely to have harmed anyone, but you wouldn't know that from reading the press coverage.
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