Public Access WiFi

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Chet18013

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Everyone seems to have rather strong feelings about WiFi and "stealing bandwith". In my travels, I have made use of the unencripted WiFi at Best Western Motels. 4 times, I have gone into the lobies and asked if I could use it to check my email. I have never been refused.  With more and more business making free WiFi available, ie StarBucks, Panera Bread, some rest areas on interstates, and even some MacDonalds, how do you REALLY know if you are stealing or just making use of the free WiFi that has been made available by not incripting it. For example, if you will be travelng in Philadelphia in the near future, you will have free access since the city now has undertaken a project to have 100% of the city covered with free WiFi.

Chet18013
 

John From Detroit

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Man places (IE: Panara Bread) actually have a sign up "Free- WI-FI"

I usually assume they mean free to customers (I have been known to choose a place to dine based on those free-wi-fi signs) However

If you are not giving them business.. Then ask
 

blueblood

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Chet18013 said:
Everyone seems to have rather strong feelings about WiFi and "stealing bandwith". In my travels, I have made use of the unencripted WiFi at Best Western Motels. 4 times, I have gone into the lobies and asked if I could use it to check my email. I have never been refused.? With more and more business making free WiFi available, ie StarBucks, Panera Bread, some rest areas on interstates, and even some MacDonalds, how do you REALLY know if you are stealing or just making use of the free WiFi that has been made available by not incripting it. For example, if you will be travelng in Philadelphia in the near future, you will have free access since the city now has undertaken a project to have 100% of the city covered with free WiFi.

Chet18013

Asking is probably best approach whenever not clearly posted as free and when someone is approachable.  As to legality -read this from a former head of Justice Dept Computer Crimes section  - he makes the issues clear IMO.  http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/237

 

Ned

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He makes the issues clear in the sense that there is no single universal answer.  The only safe course today is if in doubt, ask, and if you can't ask, then don't.

It is a good article and I don't disagree with any of it.
 

Chet18013

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Poking around a little farther on this issue, you can find the following:

18 USC 2511)

Section 2511(g)(i) provides that:

It shall not be unlawful under this chapter or chapter 121 of this title for any person -
(i)to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public;

A transmission that is not scrambled or encrypted is by definition "readily accessible to the general public". If WEP or other encryption are not used on a Wi-Fi network, therefore, ECPA does not apply..

____________________________________________

Looks like the issue has been considered and ruled on. The key word apears to be the "NOT".

Chet18013
 

Ned

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That covers the receiving but doesn't address transmitting.  A readonly WiFi isn't too useful :)
 

John From Detroit

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I have a read-only wireless device in my kitchen (It uses cell phone/pager frequenices, not wifi)

I can think of several uses for read only wi-fi.  in fact Microsoft even has one!!!!! if you can believe that

I leave it to you to figure out what it is (the Microsoft one)  I've mentioned the program elsewhere

NOTE: It makes no connections when it's working, unless I instruct it to do so.

NOTE also, it don't much care if the wi-fi signal is encrypted or not since all it's interested in is the SSID
 

John From Detroit

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If you are talking to me (And your point is)

It is that read only devices do have value.  And there are several read only devices out there
I cited but two
 

Ned

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What relevance does such a device have to this topic?  Of course, it's legal to LISTEN to radio transmissions in the clear, but that has nothing to do with WiFi, which is a 2-way medium.
 

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