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EFF Reminds Everyone Open Wi-Fi Hotspots Are a Good Thing
Launches New Coalition to Build Secure, Open Technology
by Karl Bode 08:53AM Wednesday Nov 07 2012
In the wake of hurricane Sandy, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has taken the opportunity to remind everyone that open Wi-Fi hotspots are not a bad thing. Open Wi-Fi hotspots have been repeatedly vilified by law enforcement because they make Detectives do a little extra work. They've also been vilified by the entertainment industry, who has tried to argue (quite unsuccessfully) that running open hotspots is a negligent and criminal activity. The EFF, in stark contrast, has launched a new open wireless movement that they say will be dedicated to building technologies that will let users open their wireless networks without compromising their security or sacrificing bandwidth:
The Open Wireless Movement envisions a world where people readily have access to open wireless Internet connections—a world where sharing one's network in a way that ensures security yet preserves quality is the norm. Much of this vision is attainable now. In fact, many people have routers that already feature "guest networking" capabilities. To make this even easier, we are working with a coalition of volunteer engineers to build technologies that would make it simple for Internet subscribers to portion off their wireless networks for guests and the public while maintaining security, protecting privacy, and preserving quality of access. And we're working with advocates to help change the way people and businesses think about Internet service.
The group says they also hope to educate consumers and has debunk most of the common myths about the "evil" of open Wi-Fi, with a focus on crazy concepts such as fostering human connectivity through intelligence, empathy and sharing.

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Too many problems..

I don't see this ever happening.
With low caps there realistically won't be many people opening up their wi-fi. Add to that the threat of the new 6 strikes that's rolling out and possibly being dragged to court.

I'm fairly certain not many people are going to open up for huge bills and legal action. Sad state of affairs now but it's the way it's been going.


1 recommendation

Re: Too many problems..

There is no reason for the caps. The market and socialist policy oppose price gouging and these companies will eventually face a day of reckoning. And everyone should be routing all traffic through at least one VPN at this point anyway

Re: Too many problems..

said by Wilsdom:

these companies will eventually face a day of reckoning.

Day of reckoning? Care to elaborate?
said by Wilsdom:

And everyone should be routing all traffic through at least one VPN at this point anyway

That's a ridiculous suggestion.

Edit: Are you talking about people accessing insecure networks? If so, then yes, I agree users should take measures to secure their activities through untrusted network segments.

Boynton Beach, FL
there is a reason for the caps, a monopoly supported by the FCC for years and local governments who get kickbacks

East Amherst, NY

1 recommendation

I agree but

100% need a secure tunnel. No need for everyone to snoop people's private data. Whenever I attach to one, my VPN comes on phone or not. A secure channel needs to be part of the solution, and if they want something in return maybe anon data (man in middle) is acceptable to most for free access or ad injection.

That and to be able to automatically join 1+ networks (bonding) according to quality wold help. I think there was a company that was doing that.

Open Source Fan
Bethlehem, PA
·Verizon Online DSL

Re: I agree but

said by elefante72:

100% need a secure tunnel. No need for everyone to snoop people's private data.

They say on their web page

We do advocate for the use of useful security technologies like HTTPS Everywhere or a VPN.

said by elefante72:

That and to be able to automatically join 1+ networks (bonding) according to quality wold help. I think there was a company that was doing that.

Do you remember what company was doing that?

Please use the "yellow (IM) envelope" to contact me and please leave the URL intact.

East Amherst, NY

Re: I agree but


Montpelier, VT

1 edit

3 recommendations

One huge problem - you will get blamed for any misconduct

Suppose your external IP is flagged for copyright infringement, terrorist communications, abuse of minors or something else that would get the attention of law enforcement. The real culprit was your guest user, and maybe you could prove it - but long before you could get anyone to understand this, the police would have raided your house with a tank, bashing down the door, shooting your dog, terrorizing and arresting anyone present, and hauling away all your electronics.

Who can afford that? Who would risk it? Police are clueless about anything technical, and can't even be made to understand that photography in public is legal, even when there are memos from police chiefs. Everything I'm saying here is based on actual news reports which I can't be bothered to look up, but they are easy to find I'm sure.

Now I'm off to see what the EFF has to say about this incredibly obvious problem with their idea.

After looking at their page: The right network ID and a sticker on the door? Seriously? (Amount of harm x probability) > benefit

Ferrous Phallus

Southfield, MI

Re: One huge problem - you will get blamed for any misconduct

I don't think the EFF will comment on those problems. Those are for the ACLU.

Tavistock NJ
No upside for me on sharing my AP. And lots of potential downsides. To hell with the EFFs kumbaya plans.

Mountain View, CA

1 recommendation

I'm a repeated EFF supporter (meaning I donate money to them every year), but on this specific topic, my opinions/sentiments mirror yours.

I don't advocate consumers/household folks have open hotspots. It's different if a company/office considers it, as they have legal staff and so on who can weigh the pros and cons to the situation (although I'm inclined to think any worthwhile lawyer would say "why on Earth would you do that!? Guess who's held responsible if something bad happens!"), technical staff who can set up proper logging/etc. in case something does happen, blah blah.

And for those considering replying with "no! don't keep logs at all! see Tor sites for examples of why you don't keep this information!", there was a court case somewhat recently (I can try to dig it up if need be) where a Tor operator was taken to court and lost. I believe it had to do with transmission of child pornography through his network. Law enforcement/court isn't going to say "oh, you don't have logs, okay in that case you're innocent, sorry for bothering you" -- they're going to say "well unless you have proof that it wasn't you". Law enforcement does not operate under "innocent until proven guilty", it operates under "every one and every thing is suspicious" (seriously -- I know a guy who use to be a San Jose cop who left the force after a year because he couldn't keep viewing people/citizens/etc. in that kind of light).
Making life hard for others since 1977.
I speak for myself and not my employer/affiliates of my employer.
Space Elf
Mullica Hill, NJ

1 recommendation

And we have a winner....

Liability is too great.

Until we have laws that protect open wifi there is no financial or personal security benefit to not running WPA2-AES with a very long and complex passcode.

As it stands the cops will steal your shit if they think the crime is from your house and you will not get your computer back. They claim its evidence the reality is they wipe the drive and sell it on Ebay.
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports
Villains... knock off all that evil

Castle Rock, CO

Pay It Forward

Been running an extra isolated open QoS-ed SSID at home for many years now—glad to see someone is making an effort to publicize “paying it forward” via Wi-Fi. If more people did this, the ridiculous draconian ideology that is against this would be unenforceable.

Mesa, AZ
·Sprint Mobile Br..
·Cox HSI

Not happening

Problem with this is getting your IP blacklisted by various websites. Some tor exit nodes are required to pass a captcha on just google searches due to abuse, in addition to being blocked by wikipedia and many other websites. I don't really want that to happen on my daily use IP address.

If they want internet access, they can pay for it just as I do. The local ISP here offers 3mbit for like $20 a month, they can use that instead.

Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

Cheyenne, WY

3 edits

And Pigs fly

There is no way I am going too open My Wifi network which is in range of a local Jr High School. Yet another fantasy from EFF Land.

Have you ever seen what these little turds look at, we are not talking simple T&A, we are talking dogs, horses, sheep, cattle, chickens, and worse. I happen to get on an open computer at the VA hospital I work at before they put in filters. When I saw what the 14 year old son of one of the people who worked there was looking at I purposely formated the computor and walked away I was not going to be accused of visiting such sites.

Iowa native
Springfield, MA
·Verizon Broadban..

1 recommendation


It's my Internet connection and I pay for it. Why should I pay $99 per month (full retail price of Comcast Extreme 105, I pay less since I have a triple play bundle) and allow an unknown person to use my connection for free.

I already have a problem neighbor that helps himself to my picnic table (which they have all but destroyed) and is always asking me for tools or other items that I PAID FOR WITH MY OWN MONEY. He met an all time low when his power was shut off and wanted to run an extension cord to my side of the duplex.

I don't care what the EFF thinks is good or not. I pay for my Internet connection with my own money, my routers and Wi-Fi are secured with the guest network disabled. If I find someone hacking into my Wi-Fi, I will go to the police and press charges for theft of utilities. And in the age of caps and metered broadband, using someone else's Wi-Fi is like hooking your appliances into the neighbor's gas meter.

If you want Internet, call Comcast or Verizon and arrange for an installation and pay for it like everybody else. I was taught as a child to not take anything that does not belong to me. If your neighbor has broadband, there is a 99.96 percent chance that you can subscribe as well (in an urban area).
Looking at the bigger picture

Re: Freeloading

I don't think anyone would deny your right to keep your connection to yourself if that's what you want to do. The problem is when people are willing to share their connection but are scared out of it by the threat of military police tactics and lawsuits.

Yes people can subscribe to broadband but when wireless carriers eliminate unlimited data in favor of expensive capped plans, it is beneficial for people to use open hotspots for data. You could even find yourself taking advantage of this even though you wouldn't be sharing. You can keep a neighbor from torrenting off your connection through QoS and MAC address blocking. Certainly anyone opening up their WiFi should do a minimal amount of 'setup'.