Local Politicians Say Open WiFi Should Be Illegal

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

It's quite well known that there are security issues with WiFi networks, but there are ways to take precautions and make yourself pretty safe. As education gets better, it the security risks shouldn't be as big a deal. However, some local politicians in Westchester County, NY have decided to go a step further. According to Guy Kewney, Westchester's County Executive is proposing a law that would basically outlaw open WiFi from any commercial business. As Kewney points out, in the description of the "problem" it appears that the politicians are a bit confused about the actual problem, mixing up a few different issues related to WiFi and security. Obviously, it's a good idea to encourage commercial WiFi providers to make their networks more secure -- but does it really need a law? Update: To clarify, since there's some confusion, by "open WiFi," we mean unsecured WiFi. They're not saying businesses can't offer WiFi, but that it has to include security. But, the examples the politicians give are all just about regular open WiFi access points.

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  1. identicon
    Chris, 4 Nov 2005 @ 6:59pm

    Re: Setting the record straight...

    As a Westchester resident for whom you and Mr. Spano work, I wish you would post a link to the text of the law so I could make an informed judgement on its merits.
    As far as I can piece together from your posting and the rather less cogent press release, the law would do four potentially unexceptionable things:
    --mandate firewalls between public Wifi networks and networks holding customer information. I'm free to have an Internet cafe, as long as I process credit cards on a separate, secure network.
    --mandate that businesses handling confidential information use an encrypted network. Does (should) WEP count or only WPA?
    --mandate that businesses handling confidential information install a firewall. If this only applies to wireless networks it is stupidly underinclusive: the threat there is from the WAN and that is there for wired and wireless alike.
    --try to educate users of public hotspots that they are NOT secure. God knows this is needed: half the idiots sitting at computers in Bryant Park have NO firewalls and have Windows shared drives. I have the firewall logs full of UDP=137s to prove it.
    Anyway, Saint Stallman forgive me but I don't hear the muffled tread of jackboots in any of the foregoing.

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