Interesting law review article:
Suppose you turn on your laptop while sitting at the kitchen table at home and respond OK to a prompt about accessing a nearby wireless Internet access point owned and operated by a neighbor. What potential liability may ensue from accessing someone else’s wireless access point? How about intercepting wireless connection signals? What about setting up an open or unsecured wireless access point in your house or business? Attorneys can expect to grapple with these issues and other related questions as the popularity of wireless technology continues to increase.
This paper explores several theories of liability involving both the accessing and operating of wireless Internet, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, wiretap laws, as well as trespass to chattels and other areas of common law. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of key policy considerations.
Posted on April 21, 2005 at 9:16 AM •
The U.S. is laying a minefield in Iraq that can be controlled by a soldier with a wi-fi-enabled laptop. Details via AP.
Put aside arguments about the ethics and efficacy of landmines. Assume they exist and are being used. Given that, the question is whether radio-controlled landmines are better or worse than regular landmines. This comment, for example, seems to get it wrong:
“We’re concerned the United States is going to field something that has the capability of taking the man out of the loop when engaging the target,” said senior researcher Mark Hiznay of Human Rights Watch. “Or that we’re putting a 19-year-old soldier in the position of pushing a button when a blip shows up on a computer screen.”
With conventional landmines, the man is out of the loop as soon as he lays the mine. Even a 19-year-old seeing a blip on a computer screen is better than a completely automatic system.
Were I the U.S. military, I would be more worried whether the mines could accidentally be triggered by radio interference. I would be more worried about the enemy jamming the radio control mechanism.
Posted on April 18, 2005 at 11:15 AM •
We’ve all known that you can intercept Bluetooth communications from up to a mile away. What’s new is the step-by-step instructions necessary to build an interceptor for yourself for less than $400. Be the first on your block to build one.
Is there anyone who can make a reasonable argument that RFID won’t be similarly interceptable?
Posted on April 13, 2005 at 12:47 PM •
Anonymice on Anonymity Wendy.Seltzer.org (“Musings of a techie lawyer”) deflates the New York Times‘ breathless Saturday (March 19) piece about the menace posed by anonymous access to Wi-Fi networks (“Growth of Wireless Internet Opens New Path for Thieves” by Seth Schiesel). Wi-Fi pirates around the nation are using unsecured hotspots to issue anonymous death threats, download child pornography, and commit credit card fraud, Schiesel writes. Then he plays the terrorist card.
But unsecured wireless networks are nonetheless being looked at by the authorities as a potential tool for furtive activities of many sorts, including terrorism. Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity that while they were not aware of specific cases, they believed that sophisticated terrorists might also be starting to exploit unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
Never mind the pod of qualifiers swimming through in those two sentences — “being looked at”; “potential tool”; “not aware of specific cases”; “might” — look at the sourcing. “Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity. …” Seltzer points out the deep-dish irony of the Times citing anonymous sources about the imagined threats posed by anonymous Wi-Fi networks. Anonymous sources of unsubstantiated information, good. Anonymous Wi-Fi networks, bad.
This is the post from wendy.seltzer.org:
The New York Times runs an article in which law enforcement officials lament, somewhat breathlessly, that open wifi connections can be used, anonymously, by wrongdoers. The piece omits any mention of the benefits of these open wireless connections — no-hassle connectivity anywhere the “default” community network is operating, and anonymous browsing and publication for those doing good, too.
Without a hint of irony, however:
Two federal law enforcement officials said on condition of anonymity that while they were not aware of specific cases, they believed that sophisticated terrorists might also be starting to exploit unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
Yes, even law enforcement needs anonymity sometimes.
Open WiFi networks are a good thing. Yes, they allow bad guys to do bad things. But so do automobiles, telephones, and just about everything else you can think of. I like it when I find an open wireless network that I can use. I like it when my friends keep their home wireless network open so I can use it.
Scare stories like the New York Times one don’t help any.
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 12:49 PM •
I have no idea how well this works, but it’s a clever idea. From Information Week:
Force Field Wireless makes three products that it says can dramatically reduce the leakage of wireless signals from a room or building.
One odd side-point from the article:
Force Field has been trying to interest the Department of Homeland Security, but discussions are ongoing, Wray says. “Ironically, we have had foreign governments contact us–from the Middle East. Kind of scary.” Wray says he won’t sell to them.
I wonder what’s so scary about selling metal paint to a Middle East government. Maybe the company thinks they will use the paint to “cover up” their misdeeds or poison political prisoners?
Posted on December 30, 2004 at 5:52 PM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.