Austin Police Planned... Then Postponed Wardriving Plans In An Attempt To Shutdown Open WiFi

from the um,-but-it's-legal dept

Jonathan Rumion alerted us to a plan by the Austin, Texas police department to conduct a massive war drive around the city, looking for open WiFi networks, with the plan to try to find the owners, and tell them to lock up their WiFi networks. We've heard of similar campaigns in the past. Rumion was reasonably concerned about this effort -- and whether it was because of him asking questions, or other reasons, it looks like the Austin police have postponed this effort for the time being.

Either way, it raises lots of questions. Having an open WiFi network is not against the law, so should the police really be going around telling people to lock up their WiFi? It's also not at all clear how they're figuring out who actually owns the open WiFi networks. Rumion was also concerned about what the police might do with the data they collect, though I don't think that should be an issue -- that data is public. Still, it does seem like a questionable effort against something that remains perfectly legal.

Filed Under: austin, open wifi, wifi, wireless


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  1. icon
    David Liu (profile), 26 Sep 2011 @ 5:05am

    Re: Shut down Wi-fi

    Yeah, this was what I was thinking.

    Everyone here is protesting that they should be able to leave their wifi open if they want to, but did you people stop to think that you are not the people who the cops are trying to warn? Some people just don't even know that a WiFi can be open, and can also be locked down for their own protection, so if the police is trying to lend a helping hand, more power to them.

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