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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2011 @ 5:33am

    "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 not illegal to leave your house door unlocked or your car doors unlocked, but in many places if the police note it, they will contact you and suggest you lock them. It is a question of security, even if it isn't "the law".

    I wouldn't be shocked to see an anti-open WiFi law coming at some point.

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