EFF – It’s “great” idea for improving privacy.

There are many levels of stupid. One is putting your head into a lions mouth.  Another is sharing your broadband with strangers.
There are many levels of stupid. One is putting your head into a lions mouth. Another is sharing your broadband with complete strangers.

The EFF has had it’s thinking head on.  In the world of privacy concerns and your desire to be neighbourly, it’s come up with its own interpretation of a “great” idea.

Much like travelling to just beyond the event horizon of the nearest super-massive black hole and taking a selfie, this idea seems to have been about as well thought out.

Why let a few concerns get in the way of being neighbourly and sharing bandwidth with your neighbours (and any passer by)

According to Wired, the EFF will release free firmware for Wi-Fi routers that will “let you share a portion of your Wi-Fi network, password-free, with anyone nearby.” The software, called “Open Wireless Router,” is part of the EFF’s OpenWireless.org initiative, which aims to make free wireless Internet as ubiquitous as possible.

Source: PC World

What an excellent idea.  Give away a portion of your bandwidth to a stranger.  Why didn’t we think of this sooner?  And I’m absolutely sure there will be no comeback, because who would ever dream of abusing the freebie you’ve given them?

But don’t worry! There’s more! You can set this freebie to only give a small portion of your bandwidth away.   And I am sure that would prevent it being abused.

The most frightening part of this idea is that there are some people who will buy into it.  They will open up their broadband to who knows what intentions of complete strangers and then be surprised when their front door is kicked in by the authorities whilst they are in bed.

To mitigate these concerns, the Open Wireless Router firmware will cap public access to as little as 5 percent of your bandwidth. This way, you can allow someone to check Gmail from your Wi-Fi, for example, while discouraging them from downloading a multi-gigabyte file.

Source: PC World

And of course this would completely stop messages (for example) which could be criminal offences  and of course the authorities wouldn’t think of investigating it further merely saying “Those pesky WIFI philanthropists” as they shake their fists in an angry manner.

Back in realityville this idea is so bad,  I cannot work out who is more naive, the people behind the idea or the poor souls who implement it.

Suffice to say if you disagree with me, go ahead, share your bandwidth with strangers.  See how a court reacts to “It wasn’t me it was a stranger” defence – when you’ve served your sentence you can come back here and tell us all about it.  Maybe you will be able to prove your innocence.  Giving away a freebie to a stranger worth all that potential hassle?



4 thoughts on “EFF – It’s “great” idea for improving privacy.

Add yours

  1. Hey, makes sense to me. In fact I’ve done this – left my router open so others could use the connection.


    1. Of course I’d champion your free choice. But let me ask you a few questions.

      Someone with a device that is able to access the net but doesn’t have net access. Is this an act of kindness to the poor (in which case why have they got a mobile device) or is it that at just the moment someone passes your house they need to send an email.

      We’ve seen what troubles a misinterpretted tweet can cause. What happens when an anon account uses your connection to make such a tweet?

      We’ve already seen some user being burned through this.

      Are you really happy that if someone abuses your generosity you’d be able to defend yourself in court? why put yourself through this in the first place?

      Don’t think for one minute that this protects privacy. The “excuse” of everyone sharing bandwidth could be “it was someone else” – do you think this would stop the authorities kicking your door in? Of course not because in this sharing people have an instant alibi. Secondly when/if your door is kicked in, your machine et al will be siezed and examined by the authorities, is this helping YOUR privacy whilst they examine your hard disk looking for evidence of whatever the anon person did when using your connection?

      Want to encrypt your data stored locally? Well you had better give over your password too since its now an offence if you don’t.

      So you see, far from championing privacy, this whole scheme just opens you up to potential court cases and your privacy taken away.

      1. There are a lot of open wifi connections out there. I know. Because I use them all the time when I’m not at home.

        As to the legal issues – don’t forget, I live in Canada. Different rules.

        Mind you I do log all connections.


        1. The fact you log connections at least in some way will help should you find your door kicked in, however whilst the laws of Canada may differ from the US, you still have to prove with a paper log (of sorts) that an action was not you and that you are not simply using “open wifi” as a weak defence to protect yourself.

          Beyond all reasonable doubt – thats the ethos of a guilty finding in most countries in the western world, but what if the allegation made against you was say…indecent material being downloaded. You may eventually prove you’re innocent, would you want your name associated with those types of crimes? or how about a threatening or obscene tweet? Whatever you are alleged to have done, you know as well as I that infront of your neighbours and the net public this sort of thing can stick with the “no smoke without fire” attitude. Is an act of kindness (as in sharing WIFI) worth that?

          Lets also consider this. There are many claims as to the level of intrusion government agencies impose on users. I personally think it mostly paranoia, but if its not, then this sharing wifi is exactly what a government agency wants.

          Imagine a government agency wanted to look at the contents of your harddisk. They have no power in law, they are not able to get a warrant. If the governments are as bad as many people claim, whats to stop an agency going to your area, getting an operative to use your connection to post something illegal ergo giving them an instant warrant to sieze your hard disk.

          The only difference in Canadian law that I can find in respect of allegations of Computer Misuse is that there doesn’t appear to be a mention about withholding passwords from a government investigation. All the rest (law wise) is pretty much the same as the US (including, but not limited to the application for a search warrant)

          Maybe you can elaborate on the password issue, but even so, your computer will be siezed (in event of an allegation)

          Can I just ask, who do you think/want to help when you share your broadband with strangers?


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