Digital freedom

Is Open Wi-Fi a crime?

Yet another excellent TorrentFreak’s article : Open Wi-Fi Is Not a Crime, BitTorrent Case Judge Hears.

The article covers the story of a Doe who wrote a couple of letters to a judge arguing that running an open Wi-Fi is not illegal and explaining copyright trolling “business model”.

These lawsuits have been rife with shoddy ‘evidence’ accumulation and wrongful harassment of Internet subscribers with no effort or evidence to identify the actual infringer behind an I.P. address rather than just demanding money from the person registered as the subscriber of the Internet connection…


Not all unsecured networks are due to a lack of technical knowledge. Some of us leave them open to friends and others out of a sense of community. An Internet connection is an important thing for people today, for better or for worse. I fear that we are on our way to having Internet connections become like so many things in our country that must be locked up and hidden out of fear an intimidation…


R. Cashman (Cashman Law Firm) commented on this letter:

This is probably the best written letter I’ve seen since these cases have gotten started. I wish the defendant the best of luck, and if the letter turns out to be written by someone other than the defendant, I believe the letter accurately represented the issues facing these cases.


Well, in his amended complaint (Does1-244) Sperlein argues that AT&T contract explicitly prohibits unsecured wireless routers. I failed to find this clause in my 2011 AT&T agreement, but I did not find 2010 version yet: when I do, and the wording is the same as in 2011, I’ll post “Deception in court: Part II” article.

EFF about open wireless networks

EFF has some strong arguments why it is good to run an open wireless network.

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One response to “Is Open Wi-Fi a crime?

  1. I decided to look up Comcast’s policy on running an “Open” Wi-Fi. Sorry if I missed anything pertinent on their site. I found nothing in their policies stating that running an “Open” Wi-Fi is prohibited. Here is their policy on Acceptable Use for High-Speed Internet. Scroll down to the “Conduct and information restrictions” section located below the “Network and usage restrictions” heading.

    You are restricted from:
    resell the Service or otherwise make available to anyone outside the Premises the ability to use the Service (for example, through wi-fi or other methods of networking), in whole or in part, directly or indirectly. The Service is for personal and non-commercial residential use only and you agree not to use the Service for operation as an Internet service provider or for any business enterprise or purpose (whether or not for profit);

    Key areas to note:
    1. Not to “resell” or otherwise make available outside the residence.
    2. It is for personal and non-commercial use
    3. You cannot act as an ISP
    4. You cannot use the Internet service for any business enterprise (even not-for-profit)

    As most home wireless routers only transmit enough power to cover a small residence, running it open does constitute “making it available to those outside the residence.” If taken in context of the entire paragraph, you can see that Comcast doesn’t want you to make money off their residential service. If you want to do that, they will gladly charge you more.

    Nothing in it states that it has to be a closed network. Now look at the following Comcast pages that only “Suggest” you secure your wireless access point. Time to show the Trolls, the Merriam-Webster page for “Suggest.”

    Comcast Page titled “What you should do to help protect your home or wireless network”:

    Take these simple steps to protect your home wireless network from intruders.
    • Make sure to install anti-virus, and firewall software on your computers and access point. Use automatic updates to keep your security software current.
    • Secure your network and access point by following a few quick and easy steps. There are a wide variety of access points so consult your hardware’s instruction manual to learn how to enable the security features on your specific device.
    • Consider placing the wireless access point in a central location in your house. Avoid placing it by exterior walls and windows to help decrease the signal strength outside of the intended coverage area.
    • Avoid storing sensitive materials on your computer. This includes credit card numbers, social security numbers, information about family members or other personal information.

    Comcast page titled “How can I secure my wireless home network?”

    Nothing in this Comcast “how-to” page requires you to do this. Suggestion number 4 is that you enable WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy). I laughed when I saw this. WEP is so easy to break. Here is a 2007 entry on Bruce Schneier’s Security Blog talking about breaking WEP in under a minute – View Here. Here is the conclusion from the Paper the Blog entry was based on

    The number of packets needed for our attack is so low that opportunistic attacks on this security protocol will be most probable. Although it has been known to be insecure and has been broken by a key-recovery attack for almost 6 years, WEP is still seeing widespread use at the time of writing this paper. While arguably still providing a weak deterrent against casual attackers in the past, the attack presented in this paper greatly improves the ease with which the security measure can be broken and will likely define a watershed moment in the arena of practical attacks on wireless networks.

    All I have to say is “More Troll Lies are shown for what they are. 😉

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