The Fascination With WiFi When Used In A Crime

from the that's-not-the-issue dept

What is it about the use of open WiFi when used as a part of a much bigger crime that makes journalists focus entirely on the open WiFi instead of the actual crime? Earlier this year we discussed two such stories. In both cases, there were a number of terrible things being done, and the use of open WiFi was the least of the issues, but got all the attention. In the first case, we had someone arrested for: (1) driving the wrong way down a one way street (2) driving without any pants on (3) using a laptop while driving (4) using that laptop to download child porn (5) which he accessed via a free WiFi connection. In the second case, a scam was committed in Finland involving the financial firm GE Money: (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. In that second case, the case went to trial and the guy and three of his partners were convicted. What does the press cover? Four convicted in rare wireless fraud in Finland. The “wireless” part has almost nothing to do with the story. Even the account of the crime in the article focuses on the fact that they transferred money using WiFi and barely mentions the actual fraud.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The Fascination With WiFi When Used In A Crime”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

I guess it's up to the tech sites

Maybe the tech sites need to run a few stories about how a drunk driver killed a child while Driving On Publicly Funded Streets!

Or how about kids who are selling drugs at Federal And State Funded Educational Facilities!

Perhaps a few stories like that will convince the non-techs that it’s not about the incidentals, it’s about the crime itself.

Or, we need to find the person who works for the media who is encouraging these types of stories while quietly cashing the checks from the companies opposed to open and free WiFi.

Anthony B. says:

Re: I guess it's up to the tech sites

Yeah man, I totaly agree with everything you just said. By the way, In my case, if the wi-fi is open access and not encrypted or protected, thats there own doing, they should know better not to leave it open, or in some cases, people leave them open because there nice and don’t care if people use there internet, (hence: I do.) If you ask me I think open wi-fi is a gift or a great idea. But, when people commit crimes on open wi-fi, its not the wi-fi fault, its the people who commit those crimes. If they did it on non wi-fi you wouldn’t see them barking up a storm about it. But I guess they always have to have something to b1tch about?

O'Quinn says:

Re: Re: I guess it's up to the tech sites

In Texas, there’s a clause on the books that says much the same thing. If you start your car to warm it up on a cold winter morning, you can get a hefty ticket for negligence. If someone swipes your car, they have a built-in defense that you were ‘inviting’ that kind of behaviour.
A few years ago, I remember reading in an actual newspaper that a stereo was stolen through the open window of a car while it was parked in a parking lot. The thief was apprehended, and it was determined that the owner of the car had not taken the necessary safeguards to protect the belongings in the car, so the thief was not tried for breaking and entering. It was dismissed on the logic that the alleged thief’s activities were no different than seeing the stereo laying on the sidewalk, picking it up, and walking off.
Wish I had links. I’ll look for them as soon as I get home.

Jesse Stanford says:

Re: Re: Re: I guess it's up to the tech sites

Yes, but with internet, internet access is not something tangible. After the person leaves, you have the exact same things as you did before (unless they came in to your computers and deleted files, in which case I could see this being applicable)
I think using an open wireless connection is perfectly legitimate, I would leave mine open for others to use. I know all to well the problem of needing wireless internet access and all that is available is closed. So long as you are simply using it, and not doing anything else, what is the problem? Someone who was doing child porn on that connection is no different then had he done it at home on his own connection. The connection, in of itself, is not at fault. In this stereo case, it’s not made clear as to whether this is a stand-alone stereo or a car stereo installed in the car. I will assume the first, and say that that would be perfectly fine to not charge them. If the theif had to actually remove the item, however, then he definitely should be charged.

The Other Mike says:

No Subject Given

In response to the question of why do the articles focus on the open WiFi: because they are written by non-techies who think technology seems so exotic/strange. The average reporter knows even less about technology than your average secretary. They know enough to turn on their (overwhelmingly) Mac and open whatever word processor they use and then to hit the print button. To them the foreign technical thing is far more interesting than a crime they have seen/heard committed a hundred ways.

Ben McNelly (user link) says:

the other mike is right

I dont think this is a case of discrimination against wireless texhnology, but ignorance (borderline sheere stupidity)… So instead of viewing them as WiFi intollerance, just understand its only technical ignorance.
However there is probably some conspiracy about people who are opposed to open acess internet, but that equates to the gun argument as before mentioned. Sure open acess to the internet can be used for good or evil (like a gun) but if you take away that freedom you risk loosing a democracy (in both cases). I think it realy is that important, and it ocmes down to freedom of speech and communication.

beakmyn says:

I heard he was left handed and had a beard too...

The use of any wifi signal that you don’t have permission to use is theft. Please, no worthless analogies about jiggling door handles or using your neighbor’s water sprinkler it’s theft.

While I don’t agree with the media’s FUD there’s still no reason to assume that an unencrypted wifi signal is permission to use.

Too many sheeple feel it’s not their job to protect themselves and that their laziness and ignorance will hold up in court.

Adam (profile) says:

Re: I wonder if he had ever BLOGGED or maybe had a MYS

I honestly don’t know whether it’s stupidity or a greedy attempt to capitalize on the greater public’s fear of and/or ignorance about newer technologies, but it’s so bang-my-head-worthy when I keep reading breathless articles suggesting that technology itself is key to a crime.


If your kids or students post a MySpace profile, they’ll be abducted and brutally murdered with a spork!

Video games will reduce your mental and emotional innards to mush. And then brainwash you into killing bank tellers with a spork!

Pedophiles in chat rooms! Your child will be powerless to resist; they’ll fly like moths to a flame, and some large bubba named Bub will molest your sweet young thing with a spork!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...