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Wireless Networking Electronic Frontier Foundation Networking Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online

EFF Advocates Leaving Wireless Routers Open 686

SD-Arcadia writes "We will need a political and technological 'Open Wireless Movement' to reverse the degradation of this indispensable component of the Internet's infrastructure. Part of the task will simply be reminding people that opening their WiFi is the socially responsible thing to do, and explaining that individuals who choose to do so can enjoy the same legal protections against liability as any other Internet access provider."
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EFF Advocates Leaving Wireless Routers Open

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  • by mfnickster ( 182520 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:05AM (#35963092)

    Yeah, I'll really enjoy making that assertion before a judge, *after* my door has been kicked in and my gear confiscated!

  • by The O Rly Factor ( 1977536 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:09AM (#35963124)
    Tell all of this to the guy who had his door kicked down and assault rifles put to his head after a wardriver used his open access point for distributing child porn.
  • Oh hell no. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yaddoshi ( 997885 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:10AM (#35963136)
    Maybe if Communism actually worked I'd consider doing something like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:10AM (#35963138)

    And you wonder why your rights get chipped away at, piece by piece.

  • by wiggys ( 621350 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:13AM (#35963176)
    This obviously has benefits to society but comes at the cost of making your home network less secure - most routers don't separate the internet side of things from the home network side of things, so it's similar to allowing a person to connect their PC to your LAN socket. Any machines on your network are now visible to an attacker.
  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:14AM (#35963190) Homepage

    A few more cases like that and we might get some laws changed...

  • by VGPowerlord ( 621254 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:17AM (#35963218)

    Most of us have had the experience of tremendous inconvenience because of a lack of Internet access. Being lost in a strange place with no way to find a map; having an urgent email to send with no way to do so; trying to meet a friend with no way to contact them.

    A wise man once said "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:18AM (#35963238)

    Yes. Technically, you have the same legal protections. As a practical matter, you do not. If someone download kiddie porn from an open router at a coffee shop the FBI will assume the coffee shop was innocent and it was one of the customers. If the same thing happens at your home, then you are guilty until proven innocent.

  • by spikenerd ( 642677 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:27AM (#35963370)
    Mod parent A/C up. This whole discussion is chock-full of people whining about how standing up for rights *might* cost them something. Of course it might cost you something--we're talking about freedom here! Come on, people, have the self-respect to sacrifice one-tenth of what your ancestors sacrificed so that you could have freedom.
  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:31AM (#35963468)

    There are millions of open wifi connections, there's been 1 (ok maybe there's been a couple of others) no-knock raids. That hardly seems to make one inevitable.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:33AM (#35963492)

    if everybody left their wifi open then they wouldn't make that assumption.

  • by surgen ( 1145449 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:33AM (#35963494)

    I do pay for my own services. And if my neighbor is too cheap to pay for theirs, I don't care. Let them have at it.

    Whats all this talk of 'leeching'? Who really cares? I don't need to hoard the portion of my monthly bandwidth allotment that I never use. If I've got it, someone should be using it.

  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:46AM (#35963732) Journal

    But therin lies the problem. We do, in fact, live in a police state, where guns powerful enough to repel a home invasion are outlawed in favor of the police state. The leftwing gun control freaks have no idea that they've cooked their own goose, in arming the police state while disarming the populace. Not to mention, giving all rights to criminals and stripping rights from law abiding citizens who are trying to protect their lives.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:47AM (#35963754)
    Bullshit. Even if you're pro gun rights you have to be an idiot to think that 'backfiring raids' will make the government think, 'gee we should stop doing these'. The actual response would be, 'gee we should bring MUCH more firepower as the default'.
  • by dev.null.matt ( 2020578 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @11:49AM (#35963830)

    I'm confused. Is your "right" to internet access supposed to in some way make me want to let you free load off my internet connection? Or are you talking about my right to share my internet connection if I so choose? If it's the latter, that's something I can get behind, but I just want to be clear here. I know way too many people who think it's OK to steal their neighbor's bandwidth just because their neighbor set up an insecure access point. I use the term "steal" to describe this for two reasons. First, they really are stealing, as when they use the bandwidth, the person paying for it can't. Second, no one I know as taken the time to mention to their neighbor that a) they have a non-secured access point b) they are using it.

    If you mean my right to share if I want, then I should point out that if I do share my connection, I am ultimately (for good reason) responsible for what you do with it. If I let you do some work in my garage and it turned out you were making meth or pipe bombs, I would be responsible to some extent for these actions. How is what you're doing using my internet connection any different?

    If one of my neighbor's approached me about being allowed to share my internet access, I might let them, but I'd rather not let some random dude sitting in a car parked in front of my house do the same. Especially if he was on my lawn. Then I'd have to shake my cane at him.

  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @12:08PM (#35964166) Journal
    How is allowing total strangers to use something that I am paying for qualify as "fighting for freedom"? Sounds more like "fighting for freeloading" to me.
  • by Loosifur ( 954968 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @12:10PM (#35964216)

    I just RTFA to make sure I'm getting this correct, because I normally am fully in support of "damn the man" stuff like this, but this is just ludicrous. There has never been a time in my life where I have needed to "urgently" check my email and been unable to, nor has there ever been a time where the only thing standing between me dying of thirst and reaching a nearby oasis has been my ability to access Google Maps on a laptop. In fact, I would like to go so far as to say that if you are the kind of person who ever "urgently" needs to check your email, consider: a.) purchasing a cellphone and distributing that number to whoever might need to get in touch with you, b.) purchasing a smartphone so you can check your email without a WiFi connection, and/or c.) checking your email before you leave for a four-week safari. Who is this demographic that can afford a laptop and conducts vital business via the Interwebs, but can't afford a data plan?

    I know that people around here get fussy about car analogies, so...

    This is like asking me to buy a horse, and leave the horse saddled in my front yard just in case anyone needs to use it to go somewhere. And then just trusting that no one is going to hop on the horse, rob a stagecoach, and then drop the horse back in my yard for the posse to find.

    At a certain point, personal responsibility has to enter into all of this. Of course someone shouldn't be liable for nasty things accomplished using a WiFi connection if they made an honest effort to secure it, or just didn't know that that was something one ought to do. But if they intentionally leave it open for anyone to use, they should accept some of the blame when someone uses it to do something naughty.

    And furthermore, it's WiFi, not clean drinking water. Since when is leveling your paladin a vital civil liberty? What's next, should I set up an HD projection system on the side of my house so that people outside aren't suppressed by the tyranny of Netflix requiring a subscription? Because Ironman 2 is one of those bits of information that "wants to be free"?

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <`dadinportland' `at' `'> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @12:19PM (#35964380) Homepage Journal

    Criminals is not 'the public' and meth is just a poor excuse to give the police free reign.

    Hey guess what? the large majority of people who the police enter there homes could be grabbed at work. Or on the street.
    Instead they kick in the door, point guns at every one, don't give people time to think, and shoot dogs and threaten 3 year old kids. FSM help you if you are woken up a 3 am, not completely aware of who is storming your house and reach for a gun so you can protect your family.

    Sorry, but if its 'people have meth' or 'people get violated in the middle of the night' I'll choose people can have meth.

  • by boarder ( 41071 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @12:22PM (#35964418) Homepage

    For years we've been trying really hard to get everyone to close down their open WiFi spots to prevent hacking/leeching/malicious activity/etc. Now they want us to do the opposite? I'm sorry, while I don't think a person should be held liable for the child porn their neighbor downloaded using their open WiFi, I also don't think we should be telling them to just ignore security. We have botnets precisely because people ignore security.

    They are paying for a service and shouldn't be told to let others use it for free. Why wouldn't they then just cancel their service and use someone else's for free? They shouldn't have to open their computer up to being hacked (or do you want to explain to them how to beef up their security after telling them to lower their security?) just so someone can get free service. They shouldn't have to worry about bandwidth caps just so their neighbor can stream netflix for free.

    They SHOULD be hassled if something goes wrong on their open network as a lesson to secure their system.

    Hell, I turn off both my router and my cable "modem" when I'm not using them.

  • by increment1 ( 1722312 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @12:35PM (#35964660)

    Under the current law, you are not responsible for illegal uses of your shared connection if you were unaware of said uses and did not filter the access / use (this is the common carrier protection). I am not a lawyer, so do not take that as legal advice, but this describes a reasonable interpretation of the law.

    In regards to your analogy, a different standard is generally applied to physical uses of your property, especially when it comes to drug offences. However, if you can genuinely show that you did not know what was going on, and could not reasonably have known, you would probably not be found complicit (but your task would be much much harder).

  • by smelch ( 1988698 ) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @12:50PM (#35964886)
    Wow, you're a selfish prick. You don't have to share your network if you don't want to, but being allowed to share your wireless is important and there is a lot of talk about not doing it or suffering legal consequences. Some people might like the idea of sharing their connection with the neighbors if they don't saturate their pipe and the neighbors don't have their own connection. Sounds like you're so caught up on what you have that you can't even think for a second about people who aren't total dickwads.
  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @01:41PM (#35965622)

    There really is no need for a "legal test case" because there is no legal problem -- all sorts of businesses already offer free WiFi, and no one holds them liable for use by their customers or passersby.

    The problem is the police are deciding that raids are a reasonable way to serve search and/or arrest warrants. And since the police don't raid Starbucks there's no reason to think they would raid EFF hotspots either. Instead they'll serve the search warrant in a reasonable way, in an attempt to collect the evidence they need to prosecute a crime. Just like they should do for individuals.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde