Blame The WiFi Even When It Has Nothing To Do With The Crime

from the must-be-the-WiFi's-fault dept

There’s just something about crime and WiFi that seems to make reporters simply lose any sense of reality. We’ve had plenty of examples of straight fear mongering about the supposed dangers of open WiFi, but another favorite is to somehow implicate WiFi when involved in crimes. Last year we wrote about two crimes that had almost nothing to do with WiFi, but where the press focused almost entirely on the WiFi. However, the latest story seems to combine both the fear mongering and the crime angle — but never bothers to check out whether or not WiFi is actually involved in the crime. The article starts out by warning everyone who has a wireless network at home how they could face similar problems, and then goes on to describe a guy who harassed his ex-wife online. He sent emails from her account to her co-workers, and filled out a change of address form to ship her mail across the country. The police insist he did all this using a stolen laptop and a neighbor’s WiFi. They seem to be implying that by having access to a neighbor’s WiFi he was able to impersonate his ex-wife, though that’s a totally separate issue. Using the WiFi was just his method of connectivity. Getting access to his wife’s email and sending emails to her co-workers both have nothing to do with his use of an open WiFi connection. In fact, if anything, this story is even more evidence that all those fear mongering stories about how if a criminal uses your WiFi they’ll never get caught, are totally ridiculous. Once again, traditional detective methods are used to track down the actual criminal, rather than blaming the WiFi access point owner. Of course, none of that comes out in the article.

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Comments on “Blame The WiFi Even When It Has Nothing To Do With The Crime”

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Anonymous Coward says:

What’s happening to America? It’s always somebody elses fault. And the media’s focus on fear is what gets them ratings. What a sad state of our country. It’s just a matter of time before we fall like the “great” empires that have come before us. You would think that with our advanced knowledge of history we would see the fault in our ways but it seems not.

Thomas says:

Remember When

This hearkens back to when Kevin Mitnick got arrested, and his jailers had to place calls for him, and stand there ready to hang up just in case he try to start WW3 by whistling into the phone.

Eventually, as the general public embraces wifi, and it’s available more as an expected service rather than an extravagent option, stories like this will go away (one can only hope)

I, for one says:

General media ignorance of everything

For a moment one wonders whether certain telecom interests might have an influence on the boogieman de jour. But try as I might to dream up an implausible conspiracy theory I just cant get past the more obvious point that the press are utter halfwits and there’s no more to it than that. We have a wonderfully entertaining publication in the UK called the Guardian. It stands as an exemplar of tree-hugging Luddite anti-science that positively delights in its ignorance. Here you can read about evil Uranium gas, radio waves that travel at the speed of sound and energy measured in Watts (not Joules). I’m quite convinced they still believe the sun rotates around the earth. Their mathematics is a sham, matched only by their inability to provide the most basic references and a flat refusal to grasp O’Level economics. But here’s the kicker, the Guardian is considered an “intellectual” broadsheet and its readers pride themselves on being above average intelligence. In a moment of brilliant irony they started to run a column on “bad science”!

I, for one am not surprised to find a general hostility to WiFi in a popular press staffed by media graduates. It contains the perfect blend of ingredients, evil cancer causing radio waves, anonymous dirty hacker terrorists lurking in the shadows poised to pounce on your children, and it’s complicated, so it must be the work of the Satan.

Tim Arview (user link) says:


Umm…yeah…you talk about fearmongering in your article, yet your article spreads the fear. Let me clear some things up for you.

You: The police insist he did all this using a stolen laptop and a neighbor’s WiFi.

The article: Police say they believe her ex-husband David Monty stole a rented laptop and illegally used a neighbor’s WiFi link to send the e-mails to his ex-wife’s workmates.

A case of semantics or your own brand of fearmongering. The police insisted nothing. They never do until there’s a conviction. You’re painting a picture that’s not accurate in order to hype your article.

You: They seem to be implying that by having access to a neighbor’s WiFi he was able to impersonate his ex-wife, though that’s a totally separate issue.

“They” being whom? The police? The article has no direct quotes, so I don’t see how you can infer this at all.

Imagine if you will that I live in a crime-ridden community. I am, of course, oblivious to this for one reason or another. One evening, I come home after work and forget to lock my car. The next morning, the police arrive at my door asking if I own such-and-such car. I say I do and ask why they would ask me that. Surely they can see the car in my driveway.

Of course, they can’t. It’s not there. It was stolen, one of the officers explains, and used in a crime.

How could this be? I ask. The officers ask if I locked the car when I came home. Ohhh. No, I didn’t. Well…that’s how it could happen. Then they proceed to tell me that I am just lucky that the person who stole the car got caught. Otherwise, the police could have very well been looking for me in connection with the crime.

The warning in the article is valid.

Old Guy says:

Re: Fearmongers

Thank You! –

I’m tired of reading these hyped up articles that push the same themes:

– patent system is broke, needs to change

– Music / Movie industry business model doesn’t fit technology, needs to change

– Parents are responsible for their kids

– Technology isn’t the problem, just the new meduim

– Etc, etc, etc…

I mean c’mon. Kalamazoo Michigan, Chanel 3? Not quite the mainstream media. Seems to me someone is digging pretty deep to emphisize their own agenda.

Jon says:

Re: Re: Fearmongers

Old guy writes:

> I’m tired of reading these hyped up articles that push the same themes:

Then why do you read Tech Dirt? Seriously? These are important issues. Most of us read the site because we do find them interesting. If you don’t, no one is forcing you to read.

> I mean c’mon. Kalamazoo Michigan, Chanel 3? Not quite the mainstream media.

The source is the Associated Press. That seems pretty mainstream to me.

rijit (profile) says:

Bad Journalism

This is an example of how bad journalism can cause mass hysteria. I am afeared of WiFi. Though I have been on WiFi well since wireless first became available, I am a lazy SOB and refused to run cat5, so I just waited till the price on wireless dropped enough, then bought into it =P Just means my network had to wait a few years to reach it’s full potential. No Problemo.

Syl-la-ble says:

It’s kinda obvious isn’t it?

No huge American mainstream news agency would get away w/making such bold pseudo-fraudulent claims about technology…politics are different story. 🙂

The “local news” hysteria, on the other hand, for the most part is true as I remember seeing this regurgitated story many many times locally.

Anonymous Coward says:

By that logic if he called the bank and had redirected her bank statements to his home so he could get her information it would be the phone companies fault for selling him phone service and not the bank’s for not verifying his information or the ex-wife’s for not putting a warning on the account about her ex-husband?

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