Now Cantennas Are Illegal Too? Why Don't They Just Outlaw WiFi?

from the says-who-exactly? dept

Is it really so much to ask to have people who are making and enforcing laws concerning technology actually understand the technology they're dealing with? Following the series of recent arrests of people for using open WiFi networks, the definition of illegal equipment is being stretched. In the UK arrest, the guy was arrested for "possessing equipment for fraudulent use of a communications service," which all of us who have WiFi in our laptops probably are guilty of. At least that's just in the UK. Over here in the US it's apparently still legal to have WiFi equipment -- but if you dare try to boost your signal with an antenna, watch out. According to the head of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force, the popular "cantenna" device is completely illegal. For those who don't know, someone a while back worked out that you could boost the range of your WiFi router with a Pringle's can. It requires a bit of work, so a small operation sprung up to sell Cantennas. They're quite popular with people who want to spread WiFi around a house where the basic router won't reach certain parts of it. Hell, even CompUSA sells them! But, according to this "high tech" police officer: "They're unsophisticated but reliable, and it's illegal to possess them." The article includes a story about how the police arrested a high school student for breaking into his school's network to change his grades and they (gasp!) found a cantenna in his room! Again, the crime he committed has nothing to do with having an antenna booster, but that doesn't stop the reporter and the cop from talking about the evils of connecting to WiFi networks.

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  1. identicon
    Rick, 10 Jul 2017 @ 11:57pm

    Re: Re: No Subject Given

    It's not the accessing the access point itself but hacking/cracking into parts of the school network system that is most certainly password protected and all. This means, there was certainly hacking into either a faculty or administrator or administrative staff member's account.

    You or any hacker can be liable for hacking and it doesn't matter if you done it over an unencrypted network. Remember the days of hacking networks over public telephone systems or even over radio waves like packet radio, satellite communication, etc. Remember, that was the beginning of internet communications. Back in those days, several campus LANs and like local networks in various parts of the U.S. and eventually throughout the world would locally be connected together on 10 Mbps and like LANs but each LAN would be connected to each other on maybe a ~1.6 MHz wide channel by radio easily capable of communicating a 1.544 Mbps. Basically, T-1 ethernet over radio.

    When you had only a few hundred devices connected, it was easy to do this with only about 10 channels. Eventually, all this expanded and distinct networks were being connected together by high speed communication trunk lines. A few of them only existed and only were for key top tier connection points.

    Now we have a kid, it isn't the kid connecting into the non-password encrypted Wifi. It was the kid accessing parts of the network and tampering with his school grades records.... basically a digital version of sneaking into the school and having his grades changed. He got in trouble for altering his grades and violating numerous student conduct violations and possible hacking crimes because at some point, this kids records would have had to go through an administrative staff members account login and password to access those records. So basically, infiltrating into faculty or staff 'user accounts' to get authorization. Alternatively, the person would have had to have network administrator account access. The person couldn't otherwise have got through without have user login and password of somewhat who had authorization privileges. That is what he or she got in trouble for.

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