When "Off" Doesn't Mean Off
According to the specs of the new Nintendo Wii (their new game machine), "Wii can communicate with the Internet even when the power is turned off." Nintendo accentuates the positive: "This WiiConnect24 service delivers a new surprise or game update, even if users do not play with Wii," while ignoring the possibility that Nintendo can deactivate a game if they choose to do so, or that someone else can deliver a different -- not so wanted -- surprise.
We all know that, but what's interesting here is that Nintendo is changing the meaning of the word "off." We are all conditioned to believe that "off" means off, and therefore safe. But in Nintendo's case, "off" really means something like "on standby." If users expect the Nintendo Wii to be truly off, they need to pull the power plug -- assuming there isn't a battery foiling that tactic. Maybe they need to pull both the power plug and the Ethernet cable. Unless they have a wireless network at home.
Maybe there is no way to turn the Nintendo Wii off.
There's a serious security problem here, made worse by a bad user interface. "Off" should mean off.
Posted on May 10, 2006 at 6:45 AM • 103 Comments