Send In The Cops To Secure Open WiFi?

from the no,-seriously? dept

There have been some absolutely bizarre articles from people misunderstanding open WiFi networks, but this one, clearly, leads the pack. Geek News Central points us to an amazing (anonymous) story at ZDNet UK suggesting that police cars be setup to war drive. Give ’em a laptop and NetStumbler, and if the car notes an open WiFi network, the police are then supposed to find the owner and warn them to secure the access point. If they don’t within seven days, the cops will call the RIAA and the BSA to audit the network to see if any illegal file sharing is going on. As Geek News Central says: “It has to be a joke because it is beyond me how that article made it through the editorial chop chain.” Having an open WiFi network is not a crime. There are security risks involved, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons to leave an access point open. Getting police involved is pointless and then having them “alert” private industry groups is simply ridiculous. At best, hopefully this is a (very) weak attempt at a “modest proposal” style satire.

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Comments on “Send In The Cops To Secure Open WiFi?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Oh, and you thought LE was about Law

All it takes is a look at the back of the Law Enforcment Journal to realize the Law Enforcment isn’t about the enforcing the law so much as it is all about obtaining the money.

I mean, look at all the ads for window tint measurment device, exhause decibel meters, radar guns and pretty every conceiveable tool that could measure something that might not meet a local ordance, which could result in a hefty fine.

This is just an extremely logical extention to an already thriving industry. My personal legal take on WiFi is that unsecured is that a lawyer could possibly construe it as “an attractive nusance”. All it takes is someone getting hurt across your access point and you could find yourself in civil court… I’m still waiting for the RIAA to pick up on that fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Perfectly Legal

Many people haven’t considered this, but there are some finer points of searches and seizure law that cause unsecured WiFi to potentially bring LE into your house/residence without a search warrant.

Consider the following paper:

From the paper:

Rules that balance privacy and public safety when applied to physical crime investigations often lead to astonishing results when applied to the facts of computer crime investigations. They permit extraordinarily invasive government powers to go unregulated
In light of these realities, applying traditional Fourth and Fifth Amendment rules to the new network crimes leaves the first stage of network crimes investigations almost entirely unregulated.
Anything the officer sees in “plain view”, anything he smells in “plain smell” and anything he overhears is not protected under the Fourth Amendment.

Welcome to your brave new world, American.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: Perfectly Legal

Courts have ruled that the police may not drive through your neighborhood with an IR camera and check house for hotspots that might indicate that the homeowners are doing some indoor hydroponic gardening (AKA growing weed in their basement).

Why? People have an expectation of privacy in their home, even if they are doing something illegal.

I don’t see how someone could possibly suggest that using a WiFi laptop with snooping software is less intrusive than an IR camera.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Perfectly Legal

I love people who look at existing case law and then try to extend it into a more complicated situation in which the case law they reference really doesn’t apply.

Uh… yeah. Well IR radiation used to grow pot plants doesn’t, say, DoS the local police department’s web site. The point of the paper, which you would know if you had even bothered to read it, is that ISPs can be compelled to reveal a customer’s street address (assuming that the customer’s access point is unsecured and someone initiated unauthorized traffic across it). Then, from there the police have probable cause without even having to bother a judge for a warrant… from there the “expectation of privacy” evaporates.

…and that’s what you get for assuming one way technology (light emission) is the same thing as send/receive RF technology (WiFi).

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