Wireless

by Mike Masnick




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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  • identicon
    Paul, 24 May 2006 @ 3:59pm

    ...aduh

    That's utterly ridiculous, and seeing the public's views on WiFi sadden me.

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

  • identicon
    shady character, 24 May 2006 @ 4:13pm

    effin ridiculous

    ...so if someone gets killed by a car than we should blame the car and not the driver, that makes total sense....

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

  • identicon
    jeff, 24 May 2006 @ 4:22pm

    careful, you sons uh bitches

    step foot on my property and i'll sue nike and the guys who paved the street, THEN WHERE WILL YOU BE, HUH? THEN WHERE WILL YOU BE?!?!?

    ...oh yeah. you'll still be on my property. well, shit...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2006 @ 4:32pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2006 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      lol. The world is gonna end because of WiFi? I know what you mean by the great empires ending, but I highly doubt it will be caused by wifi stories.

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

  • identicon
    Thomas, 24 May 2006 @ 4:34pm

    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)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2006 @ 5:57pm

    mn

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

  • identicon
    e, 24 May 2006 @ 6:30pm

    i will personally slap anyone who thinks that WiFi is responsible for some guy harassing his ex wife. we might as well blame paved roads and sidewalks for murder, rape, and discrimination. After all, if they didn't exist who is to say that those people could ever commit those crimes as easily.

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

  • identicon
    I, for one, 24 May 2006 @ 6:50pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 May 2006 @ 7:44pm

    I wonder how many of these types of stories are actually planted by the for-profit ISP industry which views open WiFi as a major threat. I don't think it's all just innocent ignorance.

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

  • identicon
    Tim Arview, 24 May 2006 @ 8:39pm

    Fearmongers

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Old Guy, 25 May 2006 @ 7:42am

      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.

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

      • identicon
        Jon, 25 May 2006 @ 9:40am

        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.

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

  • identicon
    Mike, 24 May 2006 @ 9:00pm

    um.. tracing it back to you? .. by your connection.. because someone used your wi-fi. what if the guy wasn't a moron and didn't get caught before they traced it back through the connection.. to you. I doubt they would convict you but it'd be a pain in the ass

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

  • icon
    rijit (profile), 24 May 2006 @ 9:09pm

    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.

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

  • identicon
    Guru^garzaH, 25 May 2006 @ 12:18am

    No, this is how I read it.

    Basically is states the filings for the crime. And since it pretty much sounds like BS from both parties; You might as well add in the actual precautions that would create a path to comletely aviod such instegations / allegations.

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

  • identicon
    Syl-la-ble, 25 May 2006 @ 9:08am

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 May 2006 @ 9:11am

      Re:

      Internet hysteria is reaching even higher heights w/all this misinformed bs being flouted on the news about mySpace.com...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2006 @ 9:32am

    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?

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


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