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Free Wi-Fi: the Movement To Give Away Your Internet For the Good of Humanity 505

Posted by Soulskill
from the leeching-is-bad-form dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "We are strangely territorial when it comes to our wireless networks. The idea of someone siphoning off our precious bandwidth without paying for it is, for most people, completely unacceptable. But the Open Wireless Movement wants to change all that. 'We are trying to create a movement where people are willing to share their network for the common good,' says Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'It's a neighborly thing to do.' That's right, upstanding citizen of the Internet, you can be a good neighbor just by opening your wireless network to strangers — or so the line goes. The ultimate vision is one of neighborhoods completely void of passwords, where any passerby can quickly jump on your network and use Google Maps to find directions or check their email or do whatever they want to do (or, whatever you decide they can do)."
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Free Wi-Fi: the Movement To Give Away Your Internet For the Good of Humanity

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  • Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:43PM (#42741025)

    Someone finds and an open WiFi, DL's some CP, you get the blame. One of the many reasons they can have my Cat 5e when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

    • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sigma 7 (266129) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:53PM (#42741231)

      Easy to fix. If you want to access someone's WiFi, you log into the proxy server on that network.

      This token may be sent via email, SMS, or determined from the comptuer's MAC address. From there, the WiFi host is protected, but they can still track down the person trying to view the Little Lacy Surprise Pageant.

      • That's the standard approach used by businesses now - it's too complicated for a business like a restaurant to set up themselves, but they can easily enough enter into some form of agreement with a hotspot operator to provide the service. It's not practical for the home user though, without a company to run the authentication who can maintain the authentication/logging system and contract with a mobile network operator to send SMS messages.

        • If you don't mind the performance hit, sending everybody who comes in through the 'public' SSID out through Tor is an option...

      • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:35PM (#42741893)

        Easy to fix. If you want to access someone's WiFi, you log into the proxy server on that network.

        What is the practical difference between "closed wifi" and "open wifi with a mandatory log-in"? In both cases you must obtain a credential (and thus implied permission) to use the network. You've just moved the access limit from the radio to the wire side.

        In general, though, the reason this movement will fail is the same reason why people want it to work. Selfishness. The same person that says "I would like to have wifi without paying for it when I am somewhere not home" has already said "I don't want to pay for my own 3g/data plan so I can have network access when I am not home". That same attitude would result in "why should I pay for network at home if I can get it free from my neighbor".

        In the final result, everyone who wants free wifi wherever they go will be the ones who are least likely to provide free wifi to others, and that means the entire system is a self-fulfilling failure.

        If you notice, most of the free wifi you find is not from altruistic people, it is from businesses that want to lure you into their establishment so you'll be likely to buy things from them. Profit motive. The altruist who opens his home network to free wifi for others has no profit motive, and while it is wonderful he exists, there is no incentive other than personal pleasure for him to do it. He can't depend on it being repaid, and he can't depend on it not being abused.

        • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PraiseBob (1923958) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:28PM (#42742663)
          there is no incentive other than personal pleasure for him to do it

          Personal pleasure can also encompass the joys of harvesting passwords, accounts, personal information & private pictures...
        • There are hybrid approaches. A good hacked router can serve up multiple SSID networks. You could have an internal protected WPA2 network, and then a segmented open network. You should even be able to direct traffic to some website (hosted on the router) with some disclaimers. I don't know if a simple website with an "accept" button would get you off the hook for random people's actions, but common sense says it would. I know, I know, the RIAA and MPAA don't employ people with common sense, but hopefull
        • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Informative)

          by QRDeNameland (873957) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @08:34PM (#42744919)

          In general, though, the reason this movement will fail is the same reason why people want it to work. Selfishness. The same person that says "I would like to have wifi without paying for it when I am somewhere not home" has already said "I don't want to pay for my own 3g/data plan so I can have network access when I am not home". That same attitude would result in "why should I pay for network at home if I can get it free from my neighbor".

          I can't speak for others, but I'd consider providing free access to my wifi under 3 conditions:

          1) There is a brain-dead simple way to ensure that my internal network is secure from anyone using it as an open access point,

          2) a similarly brain-dead way to limit how much can be downloaded per open access client, and

          3) legal assurance that I was in no way liable for anything downloaded from my open access point.

          While the Open Wireless Movement (OWS - is that a conicidence?) could probably easily provide the first two, the third is a matter of legislation and thus is the real sticking point. I imagine there are many others like me that don't recoil at the very idea of someone "freeloading" and would be happy to provide a service to the community, but if I'm going to face any chance of liability for doing so, or if it's just a matter of being a PITA to set up, then it's not happening. If it were easy AND there were no potential legal consequences, I think you'd be surprised how many folks would *not* be that selfish.

          • by theNAM666 (179776)

            I like the British Telecomm model in UK.

            They provider router and manage. You decide whether you want it open to BT's network.

            If you close, you don't get access to the BT network. If you open, you get a user/pass that can be used on every open BT WiFi router in the UK.

            Works pretty well. No US company would ever think of doing something so simple and effective.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Someone finds and an open WiFi, DL's some CP, you get the blame. One of the many reasons they can have my Cat 5e when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

      How ever, once open wifi is the norm, such prosecute the IP address holder techniques would not be possible. Cops would actually have to do some real work of finding the sources rather than going after the sinks.

      • You mean like the MAFIAA do with dynamic IP address holders?

        • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:32PM (#42742731)
          You do know that the ISP's keep logs of WHEN that IP was assigned to which house right? All the MPAA/RIAA/whoever has to do is ask who had the IP at a given time.
      • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:24PM (#42741745)
        They'd make open wifi networks illegal for those very reasons with the way things are going now.
      • by mark-t (151149)
        All an ISP has to do is require, as part of their ToS, that a subscriber assumes full civil liability for any use of their subscribed IP address. If they don't agree, too bad. No service at all.
      • Re:Bad idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rarumberger (2708801) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:52PM (#42742101)
        Maybe so. Let's imagine a scenario:

        Cops determine that someone has been downloading CP, and trace it back to your house. They launch an immediate investigation, with you as the obvious prime suspect. They're aware that they can't prosecute on IP alone, so they do their diligence, and after searching your seized devices, they exonerate you. Publicly, even.

        You still lose your family and your job, and your life is basically over, because your name once appeared in a report investigating kiddy pr0n. You will be personally threatened, maybe even assaulted, by vigilantes who want to "protect" their children from "monsters" like you. There is literally no amount of public exoneration that will make the average Joe believe you're not a pervert.

        Me? I'd rather just keep my wireless secure.
        • by number11 (129686)

          Cops determine that someone has been downloading CP, and trace it back to your house. They launch an immediate investigation, with you as the obvious prime suspect. They're aware that they can't prosecute on IP alone, so they do their diligence, and after searching your seized devices, they exonerate you. Publicly, even.

          You still lose your family and your job, and your life is basically over, because your name once appeared in a report investigating kiddy pr0n. You will be personally threatened, maybe even assaulted, by vigilantes who want to "protect" their children from "monsters" like you. There is literally no amount of public exoneration that will make the average Joe believe you're not a pervert.

          So you're saying, "there are a lot of abusive asshats out there." That's true. Are you going to let that keep you from doing things?

          There's no shame in saying "yes, my neighbors, employer, and family are ignorant bigots and fools and possibly dangerous". But recognize that's what you are saying.

        • Even if they clear you of the child porn charges and expunge the records, they will probably hang onto your computer, and ALL your backup devices (thats standard practice), until they are done investigating - could be a couple of years.

          In scanning all your your hardware, they may find that you've illegally downloaded Beatles tunes. Maybe somewhere in your vast legal porn collection they find a picture that is actually child porn (its not like you can distinguish an 17 year old form an 18 year old with perfe

      • by RealGene (1025017)
        It's more likely that the cops would ruin your life first, and ask questions later. And don't expect an apology when they finally release you.
    • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dbet (1607261) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:29PM (#42741811)
      If that's the case, why isn't every Starbucks shut down for facilitating CP downloads? I think it's a fear that's blown far out of proportion. The most likely negative of sharing wifi is the person maxing out your bandwidth with Netflix downloads.
      • Re:Bad idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @05:25PM (#42742597) Journal

        That's easy, and all in how the media reports it on the local evening news:

        1) "Child porn was downloaded repeatedly at a local Starbucks" - Translation? Viewer thinks that some pervert went to a Starbucks and downloaded CP, thus Starbucks is not to blame.

        2) "Child porn was downloaded repeatedly at the home of a local resident" - Translation? Viewer thinks that *you*, the homeowner, are the pervert. Enough said, no?

  • Open network? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dins (2538550) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:43PM (#42741027)
    Sure, I'd be more than happy to open my wifi network...if it meant I wasn't going to be liable for what a guest does on it....
    • Well, technically you're not. Except for the part where you're guilty until proven innocent.

      When I lived in a less affluent area, I left my WiFi open as a gift to my neighbors. Never had a problem.

      • by Dins (2538550)

        Well, technically you're not. Except for the part where you're guilty until proven innocent.

        Right. So why even expose myself to any potential risk when I can just close the network and not worry about it. Sounds awesome on paper, and as long as I didn't have bandwidth caps as someone else mentioned and I was guaranteed to never be held liable for somebody torrenting from my IP address, I'd do it. Otherwise, no.

        • by nschubach (922175)

          Not to mention having your door knocked down at 3 AM and being raided like the Taliban because your IP was logged on a questionable location.

      • "Technically you're not?" Citation needed. You are almost certainly liable for any criminal activity that originates from your home. This is not "guilty until proven innocent." If your neighbor sues you for damage to his fence originating from your side, you are liable but not guilty. The lawsuit will establish guilt or innocence. Same with people committing fraud from your equipment. You will be liable, and will have to respond to any litigation that results. This aside from any contractual obligations you
        • Re:Open network? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:04PM (#42741423)

          You've really got two problems to deal with. The civil liability, and the criminal prosecutions. The first gets you in trouble for all the copyright infringement, the latter the downloading of child porn. That's a particular concern, because the usual social approach to child porn is 'Hang the perverted monster.' Even if you can prove beyond all doubt that it was someone else, a hard thing to do, you'll still find that your name is dirt, no company will hire even an accused pedophile, and your neighbours start smashing your windows in an effort to make you leave.

        • If I have a guest over and that person kicks a whole through the neighbor's fence I'm automatically liable simply because he was standing on my property when he did so? I don't think that's how it works. You might find yourself in some kind of trouble depending on the exact situation, but to try to boil it down to "You will be liable" is overly simplistic to the point of being a straw man.

        • Can you show me one business that's been successfully prosecuted for something a guest did on their free WiFi? I'm not aware of any. I am aware of countless situations where someone's open WiFi was used in a malicious way. What usually happens is the police bust down your door, confiscate all your computers and you maybe get them back 18 months later after spending a small fortune on legal fees. There is no citation needed here. I can't cite a law that doesn't exist. If you doubt me, I urge you to pro

          • Re:Open network? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:27PM (#42741779)

            Frankly, I don't give a damn if no one's been *successfully* prosecuted. Getting involved in a court case--even successfully--is a nightmare timesink, and I won't risk it.

            What usually happens is the police bust down your door, confiscate all your computers and you maybe get them back 18 months later after spending a small fortune on legal fees.

            Exactly. When you can tell me that won't happen, I might consider it.

            • Frankly, I don't give a damn if no one's been *successfully* prosecuted. Getting involved in a court case--even successfully--is a nightmare timesink, and I won't risk it.

              Some cops have a saying for that, "you might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride." It is a despicable way to run a so-called justice system.

              Unfortunately, the only way to reduce abuse like that is for enough people either courageous or stupid enough to do exactly what you are afraid to do.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Well, technically you're not. Except for the part where you're guilty until proven innocent.

        When I lived in a less affluent area, I left my WiFi open as a gift to my neighbors. Never had a problem.

        Well technically you ARE liable. Go read your ISP's terms of use.
        You not only agreed not to share it, you also agreed to be liable for all use of it.

      • When you lived in a less affluent area, you probably didn't have too many neighbors who used WiFi.

    • by Bigby (659157)

      Along with liability, I would be worried about bandwidth starvation and isolation of my internal network from those "passing by". These can all be done today, but if the router an easy menu to set that up easily, it would work.

      I would imagine that if it became too popular, the Internet providers will start capping usage to something crazy low.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Along with liability, I would be worried about bandwidth starvation and isolation of my internal network from those "passing by". These can all be done today, but if the router an easy menu to set that up easily, it would work.

        I would imagine that if it became too popular, the Internet providers will start capping usage to something crazy low.

        Most routers being supplied by big providers like Comcast, Centruy Link, Cox, etc. as well as common Cisco and Apple routers, support a Guest Account, which is a separate virtual subnet, Even DD-WRT supports this. You can limit concurrent connections, range, etc. [flashrouters.com]

        But you still have to get around the agreement you signed with your ISP that states you will not share your connection.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. So long at the MPAA and RIAA goon squads are searching out "IP violators", I don't intend to get sued. Also, from a moral standpoint, there are some web sites to which I don't want to increase traffic (such as terrorists).

    • Re:Open network? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Defenestrar (1773808) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:02PM (#42741385)

      You aren't liable [eff.org] and you'll probably get a successful [eff.org] good [electronista.com] free [techdirt.com] lawyer [dslreports.com] (well free to you) if anyone gives you grief.

      Worried about your door kicked in? I'd say it's your civic duty - and if my reasons aren't good enough for you, maybe you'd consider the optional counter-suits like winning the lottery

    • Re:Open network? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mea2214 (935585) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:48PM (#42742063)
      I've been running an open wifi for over a year with no problems so far. I have a dual ethernet linux box running iptables with a set of white listed ports allowed through. My wifi routers are mere access points all switched on a single subnet to the linux firewall. Over time I looked at generated traffic and opened up ports various devices use for legitimate services like 993, 587, 443 etc. I block all UDP ports except 123, 4500 and 500. Some services, like iCloud, like to abuse the network using UDP. streams. That along with all unauthorized port traffic gets dropped (using -j DROP) into the bit bucket -- the device deserves no response from the firewall. Bittorrent simply doesn't work in this environment out of the box (although I acknowledge it's possible a determined someone could rig something to make it work but people who know how to do that are rare and it's probably not worth their time because I'll probably eventually catch them). I also detect bad SSL sessions by monitoring the first pushed byte sent over whatever TCP ports I leave open. Tcpdump runs constantly and I have some perl scripts to analyze the traffic and create reports of usage. This allows me to see if some new legitimate service needs a port open or if devices are trying to abuse the network which gets them banned by perl script. Skype doesn't work either and I have found it to be a particularly obnoxious service making it look like Bittorrent. Anyone pounding on Skype to get it to work gets banned by IP address. And all port 80 goes through a Squid proxy. Granted a determined user could get around my bans for awhile but for the most part I have found the real obnoxious actors are bad services like Skype and iCloud. And for the most part people use port 80 for web and 443 for encrypted stuff.

      So far things have worked out and I get around 250 unique visitors per month. The vast majority of users just get on, do some stuff like check mail or train schedules and get off. I have been doing this more or less as a "science project" to see how these modern devices communicate. Plus the neighbors get Internet access. I have found the bandwidth used per month is rather trivial. I just recently got a tablet with just wifi and so far have had no problems with anything not working through my iptables with white listed ports.
  • Legal obligations? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by danomac (1032160) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:44PM (#42741045)

    Until the laws are changed to annul my responsibility for freeloaders on my wifi, I won't have it open. I'm not about to take any legal risk.

    While I like the idea, it's not practical to me.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:44PM (#42741057)
    your insurance is void.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not sure about home insurance, but I know here in Canada that isn't true of vehicle insurance. My father had his truck stolen with the keys in the ignition. The insurance company tried to convince him that he wasn't covered because of that, but after about 6 or 7 rounds of intimidation from the insurance company they finally relented and admitted that stealing is stealing and it didn't matter how it happened. Now if he wouldn't have been so stubborn they would have won and my dad would have been left wit

  • Pay for trunk lines (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JeffSh (71237) <[gro.0m0m] [ta] [todhsalsffej]> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:45PM (#42741073)

    I am not necessarily going to hate on this, but doesn't the idea kind of undermine the subscriber model of service delivery? One reason we can achieve the individual speeds we do is because of over subscription of available bandwidth, it's not as though each residential customer is actually buying the bandwidth they receive, and so that is how the provider pays for infrastructure to provide the global access they do. Isn't the eventual endgame scenario of this to be in effect undermining itself?

    The only way it would not be is if:

    1. per subscriber rates were to increase
    2. some open source movement to supply trunk lines between point of presences... not sure how that will work out..

    • by gfxguy (98788)

      Yeah - there's a lot wrong with this, unless some things change. 1) Suddenly the ISP loses most of their customers who all start sharing a connection; they start charging by bandwidth because it becomes the only tenable solution. 2) Your bandwidth is only so high... with everybody using it, you get slammed with a fraction of what you're paying for while others are getting the rest. 3) Your neighbors or drive-bys do something bad and you get blamed.

      • I think it is not helpful to assume the worst case scenario. The oversubscription model itself specifically igmores the worst case scenario, so why does a different model have to be more rigid?

    • by fermion (181285)
      Which is why WiFi has become such an issue. Providers who are charging a fair amount of money don't want people to be able to just get WiFi anywhere. They want people to have some incentive to pay for it.

      Technologically this is a complex problem to solve,but can be done. First, the access points can have a guest access feature. Apple and others have done this. The guest access should be locked down by default and not expose other users, or the logged in users, data or information. This is hard to d

  • Two issues... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slasher999 (513533) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:47PM (#42741115)

    Fair usage based on your agreement with your provider likely prohibits this meaning you would be in breach of contract and subject to cancellation, at least here in the US, and rightfully so in my opinion. Secondly, sounds like something the child porn perverts would love to see happen to assist them in evading detection while they prey on our children. Sorry, I won't be participating in this. Ever.

  • by MyDixieWrecked (548719) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:49PM (#42741151) Homepage Journal

    If I decided to do this, I would need to operate my LAN like every node was bare on the internet. I've got fileservers with guest access (for, you know... houseguests), web services, my invoicing system, and a whole slew of other personal services. The thought of open wifi on the LAN kinda scares me from a security perspective.

    Given that the majority of people out there aren't security conscious, there are all kinds of implications for keeping default router settings/passwords.

    When I was staying in the Oakwoods in Burbank, CA for work (long-term housing, like... for months), I could see every machine on the LAN and all of the windows machines had read-only filesharing on, so I was able to loot up on all kinds of raunchy porn that people downloaded from limewire. One guy even had a bunch of tax documents in a shared folder. This included a PDF of the lease on his lexus, and some credit card statements. Another guy had 8GB of photos of his kids and family.

    Shit can be dangerous out there if you're not careful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by inputdev (1252080)

      Another guy had 8GB of photos of his kids and family.

      You don't sound like you were trying to be malicious, but didn't you consider not snooping on other peoples machines? I still like the idea of having unlocked doors and not needing security systems on houses, etc. I expect other people to have a moral compass and not walk in and go through my stuff. I get your point, but I wish you would elevate your mentality to where you aren't violating peoples privacy and feeling justified because they didn't actively prevent you from doing it.

    • That's one of my main concerns as well. Plus the QOS issue.
      Ideally I would have a fancy router that could broadcast two SSIDs at the same time, one with a SSID of "free Internet: password is password", and the other something else. And then restrict (put into a demilitarized zone (DMZ)) the public network from all my private stuff. And, ideally I would have a click through agreement saying that I could do whatever I wanted, but that I probably wouldn't... And please don't use BitTorrent or other bandwidth h

    • If I decided to do this, I would need to operate my LAN like every node was bare on the internet.

      You should be doing that anyway if you actually care about security.

      I've got fileservers with guest access (for, you know... houseguests), web services, my invoicing system, and a whole slew of other personal services.

      Sounds like if any single of your devices (or your guest's devices) are compromised, your entire network is compromised. The problem already exists, opening up your network would only expose it further.

    • If I decided to do this, I would need to operate my LAN like every node was bare on the internet.

      Just get a second router and set up a DMZ. That's effectively what I did when I switched over to FiOS since Verizon gives you a router to use. My home network is now basically:

      (fios conenction) -> (fios router) -> (my router) -> (my LAN)

      I give out the wifi on the fios router to family/friends who visit. So they have internet access but they don't have any access to the equipment on my LAN.

    • A good router can provide a guest SSID that is isolated from your home network, some of them even let you limit bandwidth and blacklist/whitelist sites. I am not sure exactly how strong the wall between the two is but the feature is pretty common these days.

    • by Chuckstar (799005)

      Don't most WiFi routers have a setting for WAN-only access for guest accounts? And also have QoS settings so guests won't max your bandwidth?

  • Its plausible deniability to the a$$hats running our governments. I run an IT consulting business and have machines with all kinds of malware come through, and I also share my internet with all my neighbors. I don't do anything illegal, but all my drives are truecrypt encrypted and anyone who takes my drives would told briskly where to go. I don't care who did what and where. I don't care and refuse to be a policeman. Internet is internet and only the person who sent the bad stuff should be responsible. Me

  • Common Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by crakbone (860662) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:49PM (#42741163)
    " the Movement To Give Away Your Internet For the Good of Humanity" For the Good of humanity? Have they been on the internet?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd imagine that most ISP's specifically prohibit you from redistrubuting the connection. I know AT&T does:
    http://www.att.com/shop/internet/att-internet-terms-of-service.html#fbid=ngagtE5P5nh
    Section 10a - "a. No Resale. The Service is provided for your use only (unless otherwise specifically stated) and you agree not to, whether for a fee or without charge, reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, transfer, trade, resell, re-provision, redistribute, or rent the Service, your membership in the Service, any port

    • I've always questioned the legality of such clauses; Ford can't tell their customers that Explorers are not allowed to be used for building Chevy's, so what makes Ma Bell any different?
    • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:13PM (#42741575) Homepage Journal

      Mod this up. Comcast is the same as ATT, in this respect.

      I'm rather surprised that only one A.C. mentions TOS. I was about to, but I was scanning the comments looking to see if anyone else had. In all of the comments you're the only one. Most of the comments were concerned about the MafiAA, kiddie pr0n, and loss of bandwidth.

      But TOS is a civil matter. Share your connection and they're entitled to cut you off.

  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:53PM (#42741225) Homepage Journal

    Keep in mind that (with a decent router) you can open your Wi-Fi but route all guest connections through TOR transparently. That might be a fair compromise, along with rate-limiting, capping per-session usage, and setting a hard limit for the month if necessary to prevent yourself from going over your own cap on service.

    Open Wi-Fi everywhere actually makes me more nervous for the clients than for the servers. People already don't understand security with Wi-Fi, and need to know that any server they're using can observe their traffic if it isn't encrypted. I guess that's already a concern without open Wi-Fi everywhere, though.

  • 'We are trying to create a movement where people are willing to share their network for the common good,' says Adi Kamdar, an activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 'It's a neighborly thing to do.'

    If my neighbors want an internet connection, they can buy their own, dammit.

    In a world where you can be sued for downloading files based on an IP address, or where you can be investigated for things like child pornography ... there's no way in hell I'd be willing to open my network for everybody to use

  • by NoahsMyBro (569357) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:58PM (#42741317)

    Years ago I set up a free wi-fi network from my house, and called it something like 'Free WiFi'. A few weeks later a neighbor asked me to stop.

    He regulated his kids' internet usage, and they had been using the free network to get online during those times when they were prohibited from doing so.

    So I turned it off.

    • I agree with the other response - that guy was outsourcing his parenting problems on to you. Does he expect the librarians to limit what books his kids can borrow from the public library too?

      On the other hand, he could have made life difficult for you being a neighbor and all. I would have suggested a compromise - block his kid's MAC address. If the kid figures out that he is being blocked by MAC address and is smart enough to change it, then (A) good for him and (b) it is now up to the parent to do some

  • I have had my AP open for almost a year in the middle of New York, and there are usually 10-20 mobile and other users connected. And even though I have assigned the highest priority to my own computer, sometimes network slows down considerably. It might be the "wonderful" TimeWarner messing up as usual, but it could also be some torrent usage which I would rather keep off. Sadly, specifically my revision of the linksys router does not run dd-wrt or any other open stacks, so I have no way to do any custom ma

  • by Kurt Granroth (9052) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:00PM (#42741359)

    I'm not entirely certain why the article lists "siphoning precious bandwidth" as the reason most people would lock down their Wi-Fi. It seems highly unlikely that that would come into play at all, most of the time, much less be the main reason.

    No, there are three reasons why I don't have an open AP:

    1. Legal liability for a guest's action is spotty. Technically speaking, I know that I am not liable if a guest performs an illegal act using my AP. What's the likelihood that a police officer or prosecutor would give me the benefit of the doubt while investigating the crime, though? The most likely course of action is that I spend some time in jail or under arrest until my innocence is proven.

    2. My ISP TOS expressly forbids sharing the service. As long as they aren't doing deep packet sniffing (and they might be), it's possible I could set up the open AP such that everything is NAT'ed through a known server. The risk of doing so is getting my service cut off, though.

    3. Allowing a rogue agent in my network drastically reduces the security of the network. I could create a locked down subnetwork just for the open AP, but that would be a notable amount of work.

    So I have risks that involve jail time; termination of service; and/or loss of my personal data. What are the rewards? I feel good about helping my fellow man?

    Not worth it at all.

  • It's pretty easy for me to add an alias AP to my router. I've done it before. I can turn on CBQ and even have some fairness, letting people use my WiFi at full speed as long as nobody on the password protected port needs bandwidth. Takes 5-10 minutes to configure it all.

    Now here is why I have not done that, I don't want a SWAT team kicking down my door if someone uses my WiFi to hack, pirate or download child porn. The overly aggressive police force in the US makes me not want to do a neighborly thing. It a

  • Why open your internal network up to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the street, when you can easily supplement it, [fon.com] and your income as well?


    Assuming you don't want to charge others for the access, there's really nothing stopping you from setting up a secondary, open wifi router on the DMZ of your network.



    Everybody has a DMZ, right?
  • The proposers appear to have completely missed a few things:

    - Ubiquitous 3G, available to all, even those on prepaid plans, makes this completely unnecessary.
    - Traffic caps
    - Shared bandwidth = less bandwidth for subscriber
    - Freeloaders = less people actually paying for infrastructure = more expensive for those paying
    - Security issues as partitioning off home network requires a certain amount of expertise
    - Liability issues

    This proposal may have made sense in 1993, when a high bandwidth connection t

  • Because I'm paying a substantial amount of money for a 4096/256 connection. That's kilobit, not kilobytes per second.

    Download, yeah, I could live with you leeching some of it, but any and all upload kills the download. Are you part of a botnet? If you start sending shit up, we'll both get choked on download speed; not only because of the upload, but also because of the number of connections. About 50 and my router starts crapping out.

    What's that? Buy a better router that handles more connections and can seg

  • by macemoneta (154740) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:06PM (#42741445) Homepage

    In order to do this without exposing your LAN to security issues, and not create liability issues because of the action of guests, it would require more setup than most end-users are capable of.

    The WiFi interface would have to be kept separate (not bridged to the LAN), and the WiFi interface would have to be VPN'd to a (legally) safe termination. If companies want users to be able to use open WiFi, they need to step up to make this a default configuration on routers. Sure, those that use openwrt or dd-wrt can configure this, but there's a vanishingly small percentage of users with that skill set.

  • A few years ago, when I was changing ISP, I remember reading terms and conditions (for most, if not all the ISPs I looked at) that banned the sharing of your internet connection with third parties. I'm not sure what the terminology was exactly, but they were obviously trying to stop this kind of thing from happening (on paper at least).

  • TFA makes the point that, at least in theory, you can bandwidth-limit your router so that the amount of flow your neighbors generate is negligible. Someone who's driving through your neighborhood and is lost can pull over and look at a map on their handheld device, but the guy in the house next door won't be watching netflix all night on your connection and bogging you down. Another thing to realize is that if you have cable modem service, you're sharing bandwidth with your neighbors anyway.

    For me, the big

  • Some of us can't even share our wifi with our tablets for free.

  • My wireless network used to be open so others could use it. I had to put a stop to it last Christmas day, seems like a lot of people in the neighborhood must have gotten laptops, tablets and smartphones that day. Wifi freeloaders simply aren't considerate enough about bandwidth usage, so I had to shut them off.
  • I still wouldn't be able to participate in something like this because of the data caps my monopolistic cable provider has. It's one thing for me to pay for my own monthly usage, but having my limit sucked dry in a few days and either paying a great deal for the overages or having my service cut off goes beyond my willingness to help out.

  • one person downloads a tagged file over my system, I can lose my house and retirement. sorry, folks, ain't gonna happen, that port stays locked.

  • Sounds great.

    AT&T currently caps my wired land-line DSL connection, and charges outrageous overage fees if I go over their arbitrary limits. (And as past /. posting have indicated, their measurements are highly in dispute and they will not even say how they come up with your supposed usage.) The little old lady next door has already received shocking bills because she used to watch NetFlix on her AT&T DSL connection. So exactly how do I open my already expensive Internet connection without getting

  • I've been running a little Linksys thingy for years with open access and set to 1 Mbps WiFi, which amounts to about 300 kbps in practise. It is enough for people to check their email and so on and doesn't bother me on my 5 Mbps connection.
  • With 3G cellular common, and with 4G cellular being sold at a tremendous rate, I'm frequently seeing people with more cellular bandwidth than land line bandwidth. Most people don't need their neighbors to open their WiFi to get high speed Internet.

  • You want me to do something that may get me in legal trouble--which I may or may not be able to get out of, but will cause me no end of trouble even if I do--can possibly cause my internet connection to collapse under ballooning bandwidth demand unless I do extensive and technical reconfiguration of my network setup, and is in complete violation of my Terms of Service with my Internet provider, so other people don't have to pay their Internet bills?

    Ah, no. Good day,sir.

  • I run mine open to the public with my SSID set to some site I want people to look at, including things running on my local server, so http://192.168../ [192.168..]

    Especially happy to do this when out in a cafe and tethering

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:33PM (#42741865)

    I was doing just this very thing for about 3 years. I even thought I was protecting myself somewhat because I put a splash page on the WiFi using nocatsplash with DD-WRT to display a page that says "Hey, I'm doing this to be nice. Don't do anything illegal, please." I thought at the worst I'd get a DMCA notice if someone downloaded a movie or something, but it was much worse.

    The FBI and ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) knocked down my door, pointed guns at us, confiscated all of my computers, interrogated my fiance and I for a few hours, they told my fiance that I was a pedophile and it nearly cost us our relationship. Seriously - when the FBI tells your fiance that you're a pedophile, it's hard to convince her otherwise. Some jack ass had apparently downloaded child porn using eDonkey/eMule over my wifi network. The FBI ended up returning most of my computers, but not all of them (I probably could have got them back, but I would of had to go to court to do it, and the computers were only worth about a grand). It also took almost a year to get that far. They also eventually told my fiance that I wasn't a pedophile.

    It was a rough fucking year.

    Don't do it. Keep your wifi locked down with as much encryption as you can. It's not worth it while judges are issuing search warrants based upon nothing more than an IP address.

  • by CityZen (464761) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @04:58PM (#42742177) Homepage

    Rather than have all these individual routers competing for air space with each other, it would be even better if they cooperated with each other to route packets and let clients roam from one to another.

    Just like we graduated from lots of individual BBS's to the Internet, we need to make similar progress at the "consumer" end.

    The technology is already present; all that's needed is support.

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