Is Using Your Neighbor's WiFi A Crime? Is Leaving Your's Unsecured?
from the calm-down-people... dept
Now that WiFi in the home is incredibly popular (to the point that completely non-technical folks are picking up access points at Wal-mart), the new legal questions are starting to come up - and it sounds like people are confusing the issues. Last month, we wrote about the very sick individual who was arrested in Canada for (a) driving the wrong way down a one way street (b) driving without any pants on (c) using a laptop while driving (d) using that laptop to download child porn (e) which he accessed via a free WiFi connection. Clearly, the guy deserved to be arrested, but what shocks me is that all anyone can talk about is the fact that he was using a free WiFi network, and how the owner of that WiFi network should be punished - and not any of the things the sick guy was doing himself. Say what? Talk about missing the point. There are perfectly legitimate reasons to leave your WiFi access point open to the public (assuming your ISP's terms of service allow it), and yet everyone is focused on why wireless access point owners need to make their systems more secure. Over at Always-On they're running a story about a similar situation where a neighbor's kid got onto his wireless network and proceeded to wipe the guy's hard drive clean. Instead of pressing charges, the guy had the kid show him how to protect his network. That's the wrong thing. He should have shown him how to protect his computer. It's completely possible to open up your WiFi network, without letting anyone else who gets on the network to access your computers. Again, this is a case where people are confusing the open network (which is legal) with the actual crime (wiping the hard drive). Even the excellent folks over at Broadband Reports are telling people they could be held responsible for not securing their networks. That shouldn't be the case. If you have a legal open network, then you are a service provider and as an open service provider who has no control over what goes over your network should not be responsible for any crimes that are committed over it.