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Finland Plans To Decriminalize Using Open WiFi [Updated]

from the finally dept

Different countries have taken different approaches to the legality of "open WiFi." We've often heard about police going around and trying to shut down open WiFi networks, but that seemed silly: what if you actually wanted to offer open WiFi? Back in 2005, Finland freaked out about the concept of open WiFi, blaming open WiFi for the following scam:
The Helsinki branch of financing firm GE Money apparently was scammed recently. Here's how it worked: (1) the company's own head of data security (2) stole banking software from the company after which he (3) took confidential users passwords for its bank accounts. He then (4) stole money from GE Money's accounts by transferring it to a (5) secret account he had set up months earlier. Oh yeah, he did this last bit (6) via an open WiFi connection.
All those other things? No big deal. The problem here, according to many in Finland, was the open WiFi, the use of which was later outlawed (apparently via case law) (Updated to clarify that it was the use of open WiFi that was made illegal, not setting up open WiFi).

Thankfully, it looks like regulators there have now realized this was a total overreaction. Slashdot points us to the news that the Finish Justice Ministry is preparing to legalize the use of open WiFi (Google translation from the original Finnish) after realizing that open WiFi is both widely used and incredibly useful.

Finally, a side note, because this has come up before from commenters who think that I'm being inconsistent: supporting open WiFi does not mean that you support individuals not protecting themselves when using the open WiFi. In past threads, it was suggested that supporting open WiFi while pointing out how silly it is for people to complain about their own poor security habits was in disagreement. It is entirely reasonable and consistent to support open WiFi (at the access point level) while suggesting that individuals (at the user level) encrypt their own data. In fact, that's quite a useful situation: more open WiFi, but security at the user level, is really a situation that works best for everyone.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    If open wifi is a crime, what about radio? They are open unencrypted transmissions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 4:00pm

    What would be even better would be open encrypted wifi.

    Everyone could use, but only the user and the access point would be able to decrypt the data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 4:21pm

    Open WiFi? Sounds like too much freedom to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Sam I Am, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    a step away

    Mike, I keep seeing more and more evidence that some awful kind of brute force accountability online is the inevitable destination, with spoofers, cybercriminals, online predators and rogue countries being regarded in the same way rogues in the material world are today. A communication network without linkable/personal accountability to statements and actions might offer inherently less integrity and perhaps then, even less value in the larger picture. Would you say this move by the Finns is a step away from personal accountability on the internet?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 4:54pm

    Re: a step away

    Mike, I keep seeing more and more evidence that some awful kind of brute force accountability online is the inevitable destination, with spoofers, cybercriminals, online predators and rogue countries being regarded in the same way rogues in the material world are today.

    You keep saying this despite no evidence to support that. Any attempt to add such accountability online will quickly be routed around, driving the folks you describe further underground. That helps no one.

    Would you say this move by the Finns is a step away from personal accountability on the internet?

    No. I would say that suggesting such is beyond ridiculous. Open WiFi networks are common and commonly accepted through the world. I would say it's a move towards making it easier for people to use the internet -- something that the Finns were the first to declare as a human right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Mikko Taskinen, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:10pm

    Running an open WiFi network is not illegal in Finland, but using one without permission is. At least, that is what the news article is discussing, instead of the act of simply running an open network being illegal. (Being Finnish myself, I can read the original.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:55pm

    Re:

    Running an open WiFi network is not illegal in Finland, but using one without permission is. At least, that is what the news article is discussing, instead of the act of simply running an open network being illegal. (Being Finnish myself, I can read the original.)

    Cool. I updated the post to clarify... Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 11th, 2010 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Re: a step away

    "Open WiFi networks are common and commonly accepted through the world. I would say it's a move towards making it easier for people to use the internet " - when cars first came around (replacing those horrible buggies) they were not locked nor had any real way to restrict their use, except that people were kinder. over time, we have moved to ignition keys, alarms, gps trackers, and the like. there is little indication that the internet wont end up going down the same road. unlocked and unmonitored open internet access creates a legal black hole, one that will have to be addresses at some point, if for no other reason to lower the levels of fraud and piracy on the internet that risk making it less and less commercially viable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: a step away

    over time, we have moved to ignition keys, alarms, gps trackers, and the like.

    And which of those things are required by law?

    That's the point. Which you missed by a mile, yet again.

    there is little indication that the internet wont end up going down the same road.

    Indeed. As I put *in the very post* which it appears you did not read. It does make sense for individuals to protect *themselves*. But that's not the same as closing down open WiFi. It's like arguing because cars get stolen all roads should be toll roads where you have to sign in before you get on the road. Your argument there would be hit-and-run accidents mean such measures are required.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 11th, 2010 @ 10:49pm

    Re: a step away

    Sam I Am - you are so wrong what you are going to see is more personal security and encryption. Spouting this cyberwarfare garbage wont make people here paranoid or afraid. Your need for control on the internet wont happen. Even if someone happens to fire sale the US it wont happen. The government will seek more control under the guise of keeping people safe. The people will come up with a solution that by passes the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    redwall_hp (profile), Jun 12th, 2010 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: a step away

    "unlocked and unmonitored open internet access creates a legal black hole"

    As it should be. The internet should remain free form the tampering of any government. Perhaps it should have its own governing body free from national ties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    WDS (profile), Jun 14th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Open WiFi need not mean your data is open

    My current router has the ability to set up Logical Access Points. The main account has connectivity to both the internet and the local network. The guest account has connectivity to only the internet. While I have other security on my computers the router takes care of not worrying about an attack from someone connected to my own access point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    davi, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 12:40am

    wifi?

    wifi is now very important to us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Kitchen island plans, Dec 16th, 2010 @ 6:35am

    report

    Finland is not a country which may necessarily first come to mind when you are planning to take a holiday or vacation abroad. Finland though is a thoroughly fun and interesting country to visit and below we look at some reasons why and some facts about Finland.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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