Austin Police Planned... Then Postponed Wardriving Plans In An Attempt To Shutdown Open WiFi

from the um,-but-it's-legal dept

Jonathan Rumion alerted us to a plan by the Austin, Texas police department to conduct a massive war drive around the city, looking for open WiFi networks, with the plan to try to find the owners, and tell them to lock up their WiFi networks. We've heard of similar campaigns in the past. Rumion was reasonably concerned about this effort -- and whether it was because of him asking questions, or other reasons, it looks like the Austin police have postponed this effort for the time being.

Either way, it raises lots of questions. Having an open WiFi network is not against the law, so should the police really be going around telling people to lock up their WiFi? It's also not at all clear how they're figuring out who actually owns the open WiFi networks. Rumion was also concerned about what the police might do with the data they collect, though I don't think that should be an issue -- that data is public. Still, it does seem like a questionable effort against something that remains perfectly legal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 2:37am

    This whole Open Wifi 'problem' makes no sense at all!

    Its nobody's business if I should or shouldn't leave my WiFi Open or not. I'm leaving my open for the neighborhood because I'm a good guy, and you can't force me not be.

     

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    DMNTD, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 2:51am

    sigh

    Agreed, leave it be. I can see the big brother aspect and nanny state incentive but those are propped up scare tactics.

    It's not a dangerous thing and only becomes that when and IF IF IF your open is used to d/l material that is "illegal". Sadly, the only reason it's not illegal is because there is a card to be played that has not been played yet by the big government. IF, you ask me anyway.

     

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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 2:52am

    It makes perfect sense. If you can't outlaw something, you can do the next best thing; make people THINK it's outlawed.

     

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    ethorad (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 3:18am

    I don't think that should be an issue -- that data is public


    I wouldn't be too quick to declare open wifi public. Last I heard the US government was trying to work that out ...

     

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  5.  
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    Take_a_WIfi_on_me (sorry Byrds, it just seemed to, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 3:37am

    Open Wireless can be a good thing.

    Police strongarming altruists to assert a surveillance society is wrong. One hopes that authority willfully overstepping it's rightful power is punished-having police make up their authority disconnects our system of governance and is a dangerous precedent.

    Networks prosper with more nodes, a fact clearly visible to anyone old enough to recall the days before ubiquitious internet, fax machines or telephones. Constraining that devalues the entire network.

    Making the world safe for data miners and the total information crowd comes at a high cost: stifled discussion, freezing out folks too poor to afford broadband, eidetic machine memory where everything one ever says is a permanent record to be freely recalled without context.

    The data is often wrong: users spoof information, MAC address changers and IP proxies are common. Competant criminals and terrorists will have little trouble stealing anomnimity, making these policies ineffective for policing, and casting the majority of innocents as criminals.

    Those who see the commensualism in open networks are not all criminals-they don't need to be policed until they _actually_ commit a crime.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 3:52am

    what next? Police will search an unlock house door and remind the owner to lock it or they will arrest the owner?

     

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    snidely (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 3:53am

    This might be useful...

    I say we let the police do this and then file a FOIA request to get the list and then publish it. Presto! A nice listing of all the free Wifi spots in Austin.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:06am

    Unsolved rape, murder, arson, assault and kidnapping cases...

    ...and the Austin PD want to wardrive? Good sense of priorities. And I'm absolutely certain that their offers have the high intelligence and deep experience required to do this task.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:09am

    Re: Unsolved rape, murder, arson, assault and kidnapping cases...

    to be fair, those cases you mentioned require actual work. This is much easer AND it sounds good "Operation WARDRIVE"

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:11am

    This is your government paid with your taxes being used to educate you how to be a better citizen are you happy yet?

    Make no mistake about it, YOU pay for it, YOU who earn less than 30K a year not the ones that make a million or more.

     

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  11.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:22am

    Re: sigh

    Marc Randazza already has a settlement of a lawsuit where someone had open wifi and paid him an obscene amount of money based on it being his fault for what someone else did with the connection merely because the bill was in the defendants name.

    While he might try to scare people with that figure and "settlement" it is not a legal finding by a court. It is another tool to try and stomp out the lawsuit defense of I have open wifi.

     

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    Anonymouse, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:23am

    BUT BUT BUT...

    Open Wifi provides funds to the raporist pedoterror pirates!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:27am

    So, if I don't fence and lock my farmland, and some kids make a baby there

    I am gonna owe child support? Probably a bad analogy.

     

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    Badger (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:33am

    Sounds OK to me...

    I assume that the PD may still check whether premises are unlocked at night and warns the owners? What's the big difference?

     

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    KGWagner (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:39am

    It's not illegal, but some people don't understand their exposure

    Some people leave their wifi open, which is fine, but we've already seen that the behavior can be problematic. Look at Jamie Thomas. I don't now that those songs were shared via wifi, but Thomas is definitely on the hook for the activity.

    What if somebody parks outside your house and proceeds to download a mountain of kiddie porn? Even if you successfully defend yourself against such a thing, the stink is still on you, and the chances of successfully defending yourself aren't very good.

    From that point of view, this whole thing could be considered something of a public service, kinda like telling someone they left their headlights on or their dog's on the loose.

     

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  16.  
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    Frogpond, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:41am

    Open WiFi

    The concept of leaving a personal WIFI open to the public is risky and I have the legal bills to prove it. A few years ago the cops in my area were not smart enough to realize that an IP number is not like a fingerprint. When some unknown dirt bag used my open WIFI to order stuff on a stolen credit card they were convinced it was me even though I was a thousand miles away from my computer when it occurred.
    They are much smarter now thanks to my lawyer and a few thousand dollars of my money.

    Having said this, I would defend anyone's right to leave their WIFI open but I would not recommend it.

     

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    abc gum, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:43am

    Is wardriving legal?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:43am

    How About this?

    Why don't they go around telling shopkeepers to keep their doors locked at all times and give keys to their customers? It would cut down on robberies and shoplifters.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:45am

    Maybe they were preemptively trying to avoid the problem they had in Madison WI with an officer using the laptop in his car to bittorrent a movie?
    http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/crime_and_courts/article_c7495b94-d411-11e0-8cd3-001c c4c002e0.html

    One also has to wonder what "grass roots" front for the media corps offered them money to provide this vital service to the community.

     

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  20.  
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    NullOp, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:47am

    Doors

    This is no different than beat cops testing the doors of businesses at night. I think it would be a better idea to do some PSAs on the subject and offer to send a techie out help if needed.

     

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  21.  
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    Knowledgeable Geek, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:52am

    Shut down Wi-fi

    God forbid you all think that this could actually be a nice gesture to help people that don't know how to lock down their wireless networks. I understand that people on this site all know how to lock down their networks, but trust me when I say there are a lot of people who have no idea how to do that.

     

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  22.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:01am

    Re: Sounds OK to me...

    Oh, god, please tell me you're being sarcastic?

     

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  23.  
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    David Liu (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:05am

    Re: Shut down Wi-fi

    Yeah, this was what I was thinking.

    Everyone here is protesting that they should be able to leave their wifi open if they want to, but did you people stop to think that you are not the people who the cops are trying to warn? Some people just don't even know that a WiFi can be open, and can also be locked down for their own protection, so if the police is trying to lend a helping hand, more power to them.

     

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  24.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:06am

    Re: It's not illegal, but some people don't understand their exposure

    And why should the police do this? Wouldn't it be easier, less intrusive and cheaper to, you know, just have an information campaign?

     

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  25.  
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    Richard (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:08am

    If you have open WiFi and get accused of infringement..

    Blame the police!

    (in my experience policemen are amongst the biggest pirates out there!)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:14am

    Re: It's not illegal, but some people don't understand their exposure

    if i remember the case correctly, she claimed open wifi at a time when she didn't even own a bloody router.

     

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  27.  
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    antoine dodson, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:24am

    I suggest...

    Hide your kids, hide your wifi.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    "Having an open WiFi network is not against the law, so should the police really be going around telling people to lock up their WiFi? "

    It's not illegal to leave your house door unlocked or your car doors unlocked, but in many places if the police note it, they will contact you and suggest you lock them. It is a question of security, even if it isn't "the law".

    I wouldn't be shocked to see an anti-open WiFi law coming at some point.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:35am

    Re: Shut down Wi-fi

    Yah right you are talking the police here, when did you see them in the last couple of decades not abusing anything?

     

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  30.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:39am

    Re: Unsolved rape, murder, arson, assault and kidnapping cases...

    Yeah...you would think with all the complaining about illegal immigrants coming from Mexico into Arizona and Texas, they would have something else to keep them busy....But what do I know?

     

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  31.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:42am

    Re:

    In some states/towns it is a traffic violation.

     

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  32.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:46am

    "Firefighters tell homeowners how to keep houses safe from fires"

    Those vicious government worriers! -- Link title on same page. Looks as though the police state is going full tilt.

    I don't see much problem with this, even if I didn't despise all those too lazy to connect wires.

    By the way, I just noticed that the weekend "stories" (which I never read -- don't you people have off-line lives?) are what I frequently rail at: totally comments on comments! Holy cow, it's narcissistic wallowing in your own supposed wit, And to me seems to drive the reach for excess ornamental fluorishes.

    Then, after noting a LACK in the comments above (#24 current), occurred to me that what's needed is the opposite: for Mike to highlight and trumpet the first ad hominem or vulgarism. Let's all see who's the first low-life to use those this week, hmm? (This mention will cause skewing of results, I hope.)

    [And a somewhat related shout out to #5 Take_a_WIfi_on_me for working in two rare words: eidetic and commensualism.]

     

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  33.  
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    james, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:47am

    class action lawsuite?

    It's clear the Police in Austin do not have enough to do. That to me means the need for a force reduction. That Public money could be spent elsewhere to do effective good works.

    Another way Big Brother waste taxpayer dollars.

     

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  34.  
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    SuD, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:01am

    Partially agree

    Some people are not aware enough of the risk of leaving an open AP. Same for WEP and WPAPSK weak passphrases.

    Said that, not sure if it is ok to enforce people to use encryption.

    Also, not sure how much time they'll spend trying to match each open AP with its location and owner. Wouldn't it be faster to break into the network and inject a banner with the warning, or break into the router, set up a random key, and change the ssid to "contact-the-police-to-recover-your-key"

     

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  35.  
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    Spaceboy (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:05am

    Re: Doors

    Yes it's quite different. Beat cops are assigned a territory which they patrol. As they patrol they may or may not test doors to see if they are unlocked. It's common sense that the doors should be locked when the business is closed. The owner has to physically lock or unlock the door to open or close.

    Operation wardrive is not part of any police officers beat. They are going to drive around with the express purpose of finding out who has open wifi. Period.

     

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  36.  
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    Spaceboy (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Colossal Waste of resources.

    I have six or seven routers lying around collecting dust. If I lived in Austin I'd plug them all in and then deny owning them when the police come knocking. Let's see how determined they are to find out then when they drive down Main street and spot 500 hotspots.

    This whole initiative is a non-starter. In order to combat the 'scourge' of open wifi they will have to continually wardrive to look for new hotspots.

    Stay classy Austin.

     

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  37.  
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    Bergman (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re:

    The police in Britain were caught doing exactly that a couple years ago...apparently it never occurred to them that going door to door testing doorknobs then entering without a warrant was, you know, a CRIME.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re:

    I'm not sure police in Britain even need a warrant to enter private property.

     

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  39.  
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    DannyB (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Here's another project idea for Austin police

    They should start a campaign to go around and jiggle the doorknobs of every house in order to discover who leaves their house unlocked when they are away.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: Here's another project idea for Austin police

    thats not necessary, burglars already have it covered.

     

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  41.  
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    Black Campbell, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: British police

    They do.

     

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  42.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:53am

    Re: This might be useful...

    That is assuming that they are keeping records of it and not just wasting time.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:53am

    This does not need to be regulated or have laws created. The market is fixing this as we speak. A few years ago, any consumer grade wireless router came out of the box unsecured. Now, most of them are already secured out of the box. Linksys, for example, are secured. Then after that all new routers have push button security.

    Consumers not knowing how to set these up is not an excuse. The directions are there and very readable. Is it too much to ask that people read the 5 page manual? Creating laws for things like this is unacceptable. Basically saying "Its ok if you don't know, I'm from the government and I'm here to help." We need a little more personal responsibility and a lot let gov responsibility.

    Also, since most new routers come secured now anyways. The people who have unsecured networks probably want it that way.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:53am

    Welcome to Amerika. You know what would happen to us if we tried to protest like they did in the middle east. The same as happened in the anti-war demonstrations in the 60's. Our Police will KILL you. They will shut off your communications, block all the exits and then beat the F**K out of you. Welcome to Chicago, Oh right this is Austin in the execution state TexASS, the land of looney politicians. You really can't trust them. Their police are crazier then God is.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    The police need to grandstand over nothing. Since they can't catch real criminals, they need to do something to look useful.

    What a waste of taxpayer money.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:56am

    Re: Shut down Wi-fi

    As if the police know how to do it.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:02am

    Re: Partially agree

    It would be even faster and cheaper to print up some flyers on the subject and pass them around the neighborhood.

    Better yet: one letter to each of the ISPs operating in the region asking them to mass email their customers about it.

    Having law enforcement wardriving around is wasteful on its face and suspicious underneath.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    Bloggers need to grandstand over nothing.

    FTFY.

     

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  49.  
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    Palmyra (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:05am

    ?????????

    As I see it if this went through every Starbucks, Mickey Ds, public libraries , and any other business or government agency that provides open WiFi will have to close it down.

    In my area the little town/city I live next to has free open WiFi running down main street. Both auto dealers we purchased out cars from have open Wifi for customer convenience. Heck even the senior citizen center where I volunteer has open WiFi.

    I wonder if Austin donut shoppes have open WiFi?

     

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  50.  
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    Yo Moma, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:17am

    FOX News Alert

    Alarmist Douche..."The operation was scheduled to take place on Thursday as an effort to educate the public about securing their wireless Internet connections. DART unit members were to make contact with residents who have open wireless connections and teach them the importance of securing them."

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Re:

    yes

     

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  52.  
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    Austin (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Re: It's not illegal, but some people don't understand their exposure

    "Some people leave their wifi open, which is fine, but we've already seen that the behavior can be problematic."

    Then it's an education problem. The solution here isn't to police ALL the users, it's to EDUCATE the users who don't know what they're doing. You wanna solve this problem? Require everyone who buys a router at Best Buy to watch a 2 minute tutorial on WEP and/or WPA. Hell, just refer them to one of the countless YouTube videos of someone cracking WEP with Backtrack in under 2 minutes. Problem solved.

    Seriously, this is the problem with America. People here think Educations ends at Graduation. Don't get me wrong, I personally believe the US Educational system is badly broken and should be scrapped entirely and recreated from scratch, but that's not the point. The problem here in America is that, at some age, everyone stops learning. People hit 40 or 50 or 60 and they start thinking "I'm old, I'm busy, and some younger person can figure this stuff out for me for $6/hour, so I give up." This mindset has cost more trillions of dollars and more millions of lives than any war in the last 3 centuries. Education should be like healthcare - cradle to grave. The thought that you hit some magical point where you've "paid your dues" and no longer need to learn anything is as insane as thinking "well, I'm 55, so even though everyone else is going to get a Flu Shot, I've had 50 of those things and I'm alright." It's insane.

    So rather than passing a law that punishes everyone (or worse, using the police to enforce a misguided viewpoint with zero law to back it up) - including those who actually properly secure a network without WEP/WPA (it can be done!) let's focus on educating those who simply don't have the KNOWLEDGE to do it.

    Also, in case someone is wondering, here's my setup:

    DSL Modem > Router A > Router B

    Router A has no encryption but is configured to allow only 1 wifi connection at a time. My Nintendo DS uses this connection 24/7 unless a friend needs it. Thus, the single slot is always occupied, preventing use by the public. Router B uses WPA, a MAC Filter, a 9 connection limit (the exact number of devices I connect to it), static DHCP, expires leases every 30 minutes, and sends me an email if all previous devices don't reconnect within 5 minutes.

    Now, if you don't understand ANY of what I just said, GO EDUCATE YOURSELF. THIS IS INTERNET 101 PEOPLE!

     

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  53.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Re: Doors

    Actually it would be equivalent to testing the doors of businesses at ANY TIME including business hours.

    What, I'm allowed only to have my router open from 9 to 5?

     

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  54.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:31am

    Re: "Firefighters tell homeowners how to keep houses safe from fires"

    Now, if Google did it, that would just be evil.

     

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  55.  
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    Bob V (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:33am

    Re: Sounds OK to me...

    The assumption with a business closed at night is that the owner would want the doors locked and that would be a fairly reasonable assumption.

    The reasons for leaving a wifi network open are varied. Me personally I leave it mine open for my convenience. There is absolutely nothing illegal or even wrong with leaving it open. It does not violate my service agreement with my ISP.

    The people arguing that illegal activities may potentially happen on an open access are not thinking through the logical progression of what will happen if we go down the road of mandating encrypting connections. IF we accept the government telling us we need to lock down connections for our own good, what will be the next thing we will allow for our own good.

    Maybe we need the government to mandate enforced best practices regarding passwords. After that we should mandate antivirus and security software. Then maybe enforced patching. By god we will make sure that all users of electronics are safe.

     

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  56.  
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    nunya_bidness, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    Typical TechDirt

    99% of the responses come from people who don't read the article, or do read it and don't understand what it says.

     

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  57.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 7:43am

    Re: Re: It's not illegal, but some people don't understand their exposure

    Do you do that because the DS requires an open AP, or what?

     

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  58.  
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    Spaceboy (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re:

    Blogging about wasting taxpayers money isn't wasting taxpayers money.

     

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  59.  
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    Spaceboy (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Typical TechDirt

    Why don't you summarize then for the 99%.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:26am

    I am, quite frankly, shocked at the negativity here concerning a campaign that is reported as being intended to help educate residents on some of the problems associated with unsecure systems. While not stated in the linked article, it does seem somewhat likely that residents would also be provided information relating to how to secure a system (instructions, places that might be able to help, etc.).

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    thats not what tax payers pay the police to do. Educational campaign and a spy-van are two very different things. This just seems like they wanted to sniff some communication in hopes that they may find someone to prosecute.

     

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  62.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Unsolved rape, murder, arson, assault and kidnapping cases...

    you would think with all the complaining about illegal immigrants coming from Mexico into Arizona and Texas, they would have something else to keep them busy...

    ok smart guy, how do you know these illegals aren't coming into the country through these open wireless networks? FUD much?

     

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

  63.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Re: "Firefighters tell homeowners how to keep houses safe from fires"

    I don't see much problem with this, even if I didn't despise all those too lazy to connect wires.

    I must be one of the lazy ones then - I've tried to keep the CAT 5 LAN connection hardwired to my laptop, but the wife tripped over it and it almost strangled the cat.

     

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  64.  
    icon
    AdamR (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re: Re: It's not illegal, but some people don't understand their exposure

    The DS only supporterd WEP, and using WEP is almost the same as having it open.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:44am

    Re: FOX News Alert

    Missing the point?

    teach them the importance of securing them.

    'Yes, officer, I know my wifi is open. I left it that way on purpose. Have a great day.'

     

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

  66.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 8:54am

    Re:

    My question is this: If this were truly a campaign intended to help educate residents why did the police back off on it when someone started asking questions?

     

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

  67.  
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    Bob Webster (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 9:21am

    Locked Doors

    It's a lot like police going around and telling people with unlocked front doors to lock them. Not a big deal, unless the list of people who leave their doors unlocked gets out.

     

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

  68.  
    identicon
    NEye4NEye, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: This whole Open Wifi 'problem' makes no sense at all!

    Leaving your wifi open because you are a good guy is all well and good, just better hope that no one uses it to download child porn or other illegal activity because it will be your house and computer they search.

     

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

  69.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    Re: "Firefighters tell homeowners how to keep houses safe from fires"

    "...even if I didn't despise all those too lazy to connect wires."

    How about those of us who don't have permission to rewire our apartments? How about those of us with laptops who want to -- gasp -- carry them around with us? (I know -- the idea of using a portable device in a portable manner does tend to cramp the brain.) How about those of us who have guests who want to connect their laptops to the Internet while sitting on the couch or whatever handy chair we sit them in? Blue wires stretched across the floor and sticking out of the cushions are so chic this season!

    "Lazy" is just a way of saying "I don't have your priorities and I can't be bothered to understand them, so I'll just judge you harshly to feel better about myself."

    "Holy cow, it's narcissistic wallowing in your own supposed wit, And to me seems to drive the reach for excess ornamental fluorishes."

    Pot, kettle.

     

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

  70.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Re: Partially agree

    'Wouldn't it be faster to break into the network and inject a banner with the warning, or break into the router, set up a random key, and change the ssid to "contact-the-police-to-recover-your-key"'

    So you're advocating the police violate anti-hacking laws for the good of the public?

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    David, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 11:51am

    Are we forgetting

    Even if your wifi is 'open' some gateways make you login via http before getting other internet traffic.

     

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

  72.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Wait...what? Of course police need a warrant! Unless they actually thought there was a crime going on...like they heard a gunshot or something.

     

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

  73.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    Re: "Firefighters tell homeowners how to keep houses safe from fires"

    "By the way, I just noticed that the weekend "stories" (which I never read -- don't you people have off-line lives?)"

    Umm...if you're the same out_of_the_blue who's been coming here for months, then surely you know that Techdirt doesn't have any stories during the weekend? Unless I'm mistaken, the weekend is Saturday and Sunday. Mike does post articles on a Friday, but unless those of you in America include Friday as part of the weekend, then I wonder about you, OotB.

     

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

  74.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Partially agree

    Not to insult you or anything, but s/he was clearly being sarcastic.

     

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

  75.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Partially agree

    And...I just noticed that the symbol next to my name is a bloody green SWASTIKA! Lol.

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    nunya_bidness, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Typical TechDirt

    Most of the articles are practically a summary themselves. Why don't you troll elsewhere.

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    Marc John Randazza, Sep 26th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Seems a little strange to be upset over this. Unless I have my facts wrong, in which case, I'd be happy to reevaluate my position.... but, the way I understood this effort, it was just the cops educating people about the risks they face by leaving the wifi open -- not threatening them with anything for leaving it open.

    In my last neighborhood, the cops drove around at night and woke me up more than once because I was stupid and left my garage door open. They didn't force me to shut it. They just let me know it was open, and that someone might steal my stuff if I left it like that.

    Seems like pro active policing to me. If the cops come to your house and inform you, and you say "yeah, I want it open," then their job is done. If they try and force you to lock it down, I think they are overstepping their bounds.

     

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

  78.  
    icon
    Spaceboy (profile), Sep 26th, 2011 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Typical TechDirt

    You mad bro?

     

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

  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2011 @ 4:17am

    Re: Re: This whole Open Wifi 'problem' makes no sense at all!

    I'm sick and tired of this argument! How about the police go after the child porn producers for a change? Or can't they violate their copyright?

     

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

  80.  
    identicon
    btr1701, Sep 27th, 2011 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: Unsolved rape, murder, arson, assault and kidnapping cases...

    > you would think with all the complaining
    > about illegal immigrants coming from Mexico
    > into Arizona and Texas, they would have
    > something else to keep them busy

    The Austin police can't do anything about illegals. Haven't you heard? Austin is one of those lovely 'sanctuary cities'. The cops are prohibited by the city council from enforcing or helping to enforce US law if it has anything to do with illegal immigration.

    Fantastic, huh?

     

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

  81.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Sep 27th, 2011 @ 4:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And since we have a very low gun ownership... they had no excuses.

     

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

  82.  
    identicon
    Jackson, Sep 27th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re:

    It's a waste of government spending. The internet service provider owns this action just like a toll road. The ISP can also correlate the account by matching the IP to the account at the time of the check. Officers will simply have a wifi usb device attached to their already existing laptop sending email via the open network. This an attempt at prevention because they spend a lot more time and resources catching bad behavior after the fact

     

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

  83.  
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    nasch (profile), Sep 27th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re: Locked Doors

    I would be quite annoyed if the police came to the door to tell me my front door is unlocked. I know what a lock is and how it works - leave me alone.

     

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

  84.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 27th, 2011 @ 10:59am

    Re:

    It's not illegal to leave your house door unlocked or your car doors unlocked, but in many places if the police note it, they will contact you and suggest you lock them.


    They do?? That would totally creep me out, and probably make me a bit irritated at the police.

     

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

  85.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 27th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    The analogy seems pretty weak.

    In the first place, it's plainly obvious whether or not your garage door is open. A cop can notice it in the routine course of his duties and out of the goodness of his heart warn you. Not so with wifi -- you have to have equipment and be driving around looking for them. Given that educating people about network security is not anywhere close to being in a cop's job description, it seems like ahuge misallocation of resources that could be better applies elsewhere.

    I assume that the cops don't have a dedicated team of people looking for open garage doors, and if they did, I would have an objection to that for the same reason.

    Second, with the garage doors they are proactively preventing property crime. What crime are they proactively protecting you from with the wifi? I can't think of any, except maybe identify theft -- and WPA is weak protection against a criminal who wants to gather your CC numbers and such anyway.

    Also, it's unnecessary. As a commenter earlier pointed out, wifi routers come presecured nowadays.

     

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

  86.  
    identicon
    medlaw, Sep 27th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    AT&T

    You don't suppose the zeal of the Austin Police Department to enforce a non-existent law against free wifi would have anything to do with AT&T, whose headquarters are in Dallas? In any legal mystery the Roman advocate Cicero always asked cui bono (to whose benefit). Who benefits by shutting down free wifi?

     

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

  87.  
    identicon
    Isamu, Oct 26th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re: Shut down Wi-fi

    Rule of thumb, If you can't keep it safe don't get it.

    People should be able to keep their WiFi open if they wish.

    People that don't know how to secure, shouldn't be setting up WiFi in their homes. They have no excuse for not knowing how. Besides the great thing called the internet, they have the owner's manual to tell them to how to secure it. Many wireless routers have an option to auto-secure it.

     

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

  88.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Oct 26th, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Shut down Wi-fi

    Besides the great thing called the internet, they have the owner's manual to tell them to how to secure it.

    I imagine many people who have wifi don't even know there's such a thing as securing it, so they don't know to look up how to do it.

     

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

  89.  
    identicon
    Joy, Jan 4th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    Re: Open WiFi

    You made a good point here. Opening your Wifi, sharing it with somebody you don't know could lead to a bad situation that you experienced.

     

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

  90.  
    identicon
    Marissa, May 13th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Re:

    You have a good point there.

     

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


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