by Mike Masnick

Licensed To War Drive In New Hampshire

from the clear-up-that-issue dept

Over in New Hampshire, it sounds like they're getting ready to pass a law that would make it legal for anyone to access and use open WiFi networks. For people who do this all the time, you may be shocked to find out that it wasn't legal. It's actually a "wishy-washy" area of the law. Some people believe it's legal, while others still see it as intrusion - even though the WiFi networks were left wide open and many computers are designed to automatically connect to the nearest open WiFi network. This law would clarify that the responsibility is on the owner of the WiFi network to secure it - and if they don't, the assumption is that it was purposely left open for anyone to use. This seems like the right move. Too many people who don't seem to understand WiFi make incredibly misleading statements about how anyone who uses an open WiFi network is a "malicious hacker". It's about time that people realized that open WiFi networks provide a real benefit - and in many cases (though, certainly not all...) they should be encouraged.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2003 @ 10:03am

    (il)legal is in the eye of the beholder

    We've all seen the Microsoft self-confessions of bandwidth "theft" by Balmer et. al.

    The way XP behaves, I would have to classify open access points, from a legal point of view, as a "public nusiance"... if you don't understand the concept, ask a lawyer. Microsoft even has a knowledge base article that address the subject.

    My personal opinion is that open access points are a "public service" (not that they should be used with disregard, but rather that in the current political climate, it's an important freedom to have unexpected and difficult to monitor/tap means of communication). No, I'm not worried about terrorists having this freedom... We couldn't catch them before... what makes you think we won't catch anyone other than "stupid" terrorists with TIA?

    As far as access point hardware makers go, I would have to say the the industry has done a miserable job. Security is the single biggest stumbing block to even more wide spread adoption of wireless technologies. There's a fairly simple solution that everyone seems to be completely missing. Build wireless access points with two wired ports. One for the way to the internet and one for your internal network. Make default policy on the access point to allow wireless access through to the internet, but block access wireless access to the "internal"
    network by default. This would reduce the imediate danger of deploying a wireless access point for the average consumer.

    Why Microsoft didn't cease upon the opportunity to leverage their passport authentication in their wireless access point is beyond me. Probably has a lot to do with wireless not being their core compentency.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2003 @ 10:10am


    I'm confused.. is this slashdot? Anyhow, keep in mind when you open you wifi, you are still liable for those who use it. e.g. file sharing, hacking etc.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Apr 2003 @ 4:43am

      Re: liability

      Uh, no. This site only wishes it were ./

      ...and yeah, liable, like a trojaned kiddie porn mongor is liable. It's all about resonable double my friend; I know people who keep open access points for the *express* purpose of plausable deniability.

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

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