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Friday, April 14, 2006

Is Wifi War Driving Unethical/Illegal?

This is in response to the blog post at on the issue on Wifi War Driving.

Is Wifi War Driving Unethical/Illegal?

There are a lot of issues to be considered but let me just focus on what I think has the strongest points.

First on the issue that hot-spot owners must secure their own access point: Yes, it is the responsibility of the operators to secure their access point as much as it is one's responsibility to drive safely. Some establishments offer Wifi access without even having the competency to administer their service; they usually rely of pre-installed setups offered by the dealers. The owners are just interested on driving customers to their establishment but is not concerned on the quality and security of these service which of course affects the safety of the Wifi users (oh well, they are free anyway. right?). These hot-spot owners are compared to people buying a car but doesn't know how to properly drive.

If we are going to debate on "if war driving is illegal or not" then I would only say: Internet is public. period. As long as you network is accessible thru the Internet then it is public, this is the founding concept of the Internet and its never meant to have locks and keys on the first place. But due to the demand of corporations to monetize the use information thru the Internet, the locks were placed and only because of these locks we could differentiate between the public Internet and the private/corporate ones.

This brings me to the issue, hot spot licensing. Since hot-spot owners provide these services to the public then they must kept in check to ensure user's "public safety" (those who prey of the unsecured users and those who uses the Wifi access to commit fraudulent acts on the Internet knowing they can be traced easily). If you need to know how vulnerable Wifi users are against attack then check this little demo done during the Defcon 12 at Anyway these Wifi accesses are not free at all in the truest sense; since these are value added services; the cost of the service is actually paid in part by each customer as they buy the products offered by the establishment. Therefore the owners must be obligated to provide a quality service. On how these measures are to be implemented, I leave this to the experts on laws and licensing (maybe the NTC would be interested).


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