June 21, 2014

HMM: New open-source router firmware opens your Wi-Fi network to strangers; EFF says open Wi-Fi tool promotes efficiency, neighborliness, and privacy.

EFF hopes that opening one’s Wi-Fi network will, in the long run, make it more difficult to tie an IP address to an individual.

“From a legal perspective, we have been trying to tackle this idea that law enforcement and certain bad plaintiffs have been pushing, that your IP address is tied to your identity. Your identity is not your IP address. You shouldn’t be targeted by a copyright troll just because they know your IP address,” said Kamdar.

This isn’t an abstract problem, either. Consider the case of the Californian who, after allowing a friend access to his home Wi-Fi network, found his home turned inside-out by police officers asking tough questions about child pornography. The man later learned that his houseguest had downloaded illicit materials, thus subjecting the homeowner to police interrogation. Should a critical mass begin to open private networks to strangers, the practice of correlating individuals with IP addresses would prove increasingly difficult and therefore might be reduced.

Yeah, I used to keep an open wifi connection out of public-spiritedness, until I noticed people parking in the street in front of my house to use it. Then I worried about just such a situation, so I quit. I agree with the EFF here, but I wonder how many people will adopt.