New Initiative for Open Wireless

Open WirelessAfter some of the backlash that Comcast has heard regarding their new program to turn all of their customers’ routers into open WiFi points, you’d think that people would be wary of trying to convince others that leaving a portion of their WiFi bandwidth completely open for others to use would be a bad idea. But… that’s exactly what the people at the Open Wireless Movement are attempting to do. Led by members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), this organization is committing to release an Open Source router firmware that makes altruistic bandwidth sharing part of its core functionality.

We’ve always thought that while open sharing is a good idea in theory, it should be looked upon as highly dangerous. There are a myriad of reasons why this is true, and the Open Wireless Movement tries to deal with all of them. One glaring problem would seem to be that opening up your WiFi signal would be a clear violation of just about every ISP’s terms and conditions. Why, after all, would they want or allow you to share your internet connection with a neighbor? Still, the group does list a handful of open-friendly ISPs on their website.

But probably our main objection to such a system is the security and privacy concerns. What happens if one of the user’s that you so graciously share our connection anonymously with happens to do something unsavory or worse, illegal? And what if they choose to do it while cloning the MAC address of your laptop so it really looks like you’re doing it? The group’s response on whether or not this is an actual problem:

This one is a bit more complicated, but the short answer is, “We don’t think so.”

Huh??? In an environment where the courts are totally ignorant of technology, and the unfortunate belief will be the presumption of guilt until proven innocent, how is “We don’t think so” a response?

We like the attempt that’s being made to make the world a better place, but are afraid that there are too many potential problems here.