Would Jesus Offer Open Wifi?
28 April 2011The EFF recently posted a "Call to Action" for an Open Wireless Movement (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/04/open-wireless-movement). The article lays out some compelling reasons for allowing open access to home wireless internet connections. The main reason they cite is civic duty, or community service. They state that providing digital access is a social responsibility that makes the world a better place. Of course, opening your wireless access does have several serious implications. The most serious is the possibility of someone using your access to commit a crime. When law enforcement traces digital crime they normally tie it to an IP address, and if someone breaks the law using your wireless then your IP is going to be the one targeted by law enforcement. Of course, having an open wireless access point could be a defence against charges, but that's not going to stop a judge from issuing a warrant and law enforcement from seizing all your computer equipment in order to check it for evidence of a crime. This could tie up your equipment, and your person, in police custody for some time even if you are innocent of any wrongdoing. If you're going to allow open access to your wireless connection, it is only prudent to log access to your device. Most wireless access points have some sort of logging capability, although the limits of that logging may be rather short. If possible you should keep track of who connects to your wireless network and what they do. That way, if the police do come knocking, you can provide them with something to turn their attention in the right direction and hopefully avoid a hassle. Providing open wireless with today's technology, in today's legal atmosphere strikes me as very cyberpunk. It's certainly flirting with trouble, and to make a point that is purely ideological. It's much easier simply to lock down your wireless and tell your neighbours to piss off. I laud anyone who takes the time and effort, and risks the trouble, in order to provide free internet access to their community. In the paradigm of WWJD I think open wireless is a mandate, but in the world of DMCA and warrantless wiretaps it is a bold, and dicey move.