We've had numerous discussions on this site about both the legality
of open WiFi networks. And yet, the issue still comes up now and again -- but who knew it was a Constitutional issue? Thomas O'Toole shares the news of a ruling in Oregon, that suggests a user who left his WiFi open gave up certain 4th Amendment rights to privacy
. Though, actually, the details of the case suggest it's not so much the open WiFi that's the issue, but the fact that the guy also
left illegal material in shared Limewire and iTunes folders. It was just that police were able to confirm that by connecting to his open WiFi. But the court does make a specific statement on the WiFi issue, noting:
"as a result of the ease and frequency with which people use each others' wireless networks, I conclude that society recognizes a lower expectation of privacy in information broadcast via an unsecured wireless network router than in information transmitted through a hardwired network or password-protected network."
While O'Toole doesn't think there's anything earth shattering about this, I'm not sure I agree. I think, in this case, the guy probably gave up rights to privacy by putting the content in shared folders that were available widely -- but I don't think that just because you're using an open WiFi network you've set yourself a "lower expectation of privacy." I would suspect that most users have no idea that it's less secure, and I wonder why the type of network used should really determine the level of 4th Amendment protections.