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Imagine a world where dozens of open networks are available at your fingertips (openwireless.org)
54 points by Tsiolkovsky 1604 days ago | hide | past | web | 38 comments | favorite

I did this for a while and then I had a neighbor who'd use it for their torrent downloads (they probably didn't want to hose their own precious bandwidth).

I haven't found a QoS/shaping scheme that works adequately with DD-WRT, so I just shut the open SSID down.

Additionally, I believe that in the next 5-7 years, the US broadband ISP model will move to a metered bandwidth model, similar to what US mobile carriers are doing now. Just wait.

They'll claim its due to torrenters or some such nonsense, but the real reason will be to extract more profit from their customers. So, I think the whole "open and free" Internet thing will be a moot point in the next decade.

The REAL problem is the 'we don't think so' at the 'Will opening my network make me liable for others' illegal activities?'. That is the key of the problem and until it is fixed there is no way I am opening my wifi to strangers.

If everyone opened their wifi to strangers, it might BE the solution; everyone would realize that IP != person. But I agree with you.

It's an unfortunate chicken-and-egg problem. I think this web site is trying to solve it by getting enough people to jump at the same time.

Have you considered having all the traffic routing through a proxy?

Can we all just calm down and take a sensible look at the risk. Is for example, the risk of getting hit by a meteor, bigger than say getting legal attention for having an open wifi? Security researcher like Bruce Schneier keeps an open wifi, and he argues this exact point. (https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/01/my_open_wirel...)

There are also plenty of solutions if one want to eliminate this "risk". Hook it to Tor, or an VPN solution of your choice, and that will be that. That's it, no more risk, and you can enjoy the safety that one can normally only get from insurance against volcanoes.

I am pretty calmed down, the fact is... There are quite a number of illegal activities going on in the world using the Internet. As much as you joke, the fact is I use my wifi all day long and hooking it to tor/vpn would:

1) slow it down

2) cost me money if I do not want 1) to happen

You know, I do not travel to volcanoes, but I do use the Internet. And being hit by a meteor is something over which I have no control... My wifi is completely mine to tinker with.

On the other hand: and I am not into risking SO MUCH (just the fact of receiving a letter is too much for me, sorry my values are not equal to yours) for so little benefit, sorry.

It is a risk without quotes, it is probably not a "danger" from your point of view (just to be precise): risk is anything with a potential damaging outcome... Yes, any activity is a risk. Just ask any insurance company out there.

And frankly I could not care less about Schneier's open wifi and his arguments in this case.

I never meant you should use tor/vpn on your own traffic, just the open wifi traffic. Funnel all trafic you deem risky (ie, from the unknown public) to tor, and let your own traffic use the non-tor route.

Technically, you can do this several ways. You can base it on the source MAC, ipsec authentication, or just have two separate networks (one close, one open).

As for the risk. Yes, any activity is a risk. Walking down the street, breathing air, or just talking to someone will invokes a large number of them. Thus, if we dont want to be incapacitated by our own fears, we must evaluate them. Meteor insurance is a joke because of this. While it is a "risk" in the strict sense, its not a risk worth considering or giving any action to.

If the risk of open wifi is the same or even less than meteor strikes, why does it deserve any though or considerations? Why is this fear different from people who refuse to leave their home, or refuse to be around people if they dont wear face masks and gloves?

Ie, are there a rational reason to avoid open-wifi, or is it just irrational fear. Of course, anyone is allowed to not do something they feel afraid of. But I also feel allowed to point out the folly of irrational fears of risks with less than meteor strike probability.

risk=dangerValue x probabilty. I am entitled to value legal liability as higher than my own life, am I not?

You're entitled to say that you do in order to win an argument on the internet, but everyone knows you're being intellectually dishonest about it.

Thanks for the parenting. I guess you have never been depressed: you would value a few of things above your life if you had. But anyway, thanks for the mastering.

Using a mental health problem to counter an argument that depends on rational thinking is rather pointless.

Elemenohpee was dismissive because there is no reasonable argument for valuing minor to moderate legal liability as more important than life itself. Pointing out that elemenohpee was dismissive is not going to help you win the argument. It just adds more evidence to the accusation of "intellectually dishonest" if you have nothing else to say in rebuttal, especially when you exaggerate it.

I agree he was over the top, however...

Rational does not mean the same thing as sanity. Rationality means behaving in a manor consistent with your beliefs, desires, and the information you have. If you would much rather be killed while skydiving than driving your car taking you may do things that are not what most people would consider 'sane', but are still perfectly rational based on your goals and beliefs.

I'm not worried about some societal standards definition of 'sanity'. If you want to skydive into a volcano to celebrate your 80th birthday then go ahead. But depression as I understand it distorts your beliefs about yourself to the point that they can't be trusted at all. The problem is not the belief/desire/information per se, but how it got there.

If you truly valued freedom from legal liability above your own life, wouldn't you just kill yourself rather than be exposed to the risk of say, driving a car around other people?

Everyone is entitled to irrational behavior and act disproportional to the actual danger posed. My point, is simply to point out that it is irrational, but for those who are inclined to do so, there are methods to eliminate the risk by technical measures.

I've lived in this world: it was San Francisco about 15 years ago. People there used to leave their networks open (60%?) and now they don't (99%). It is an amazing change and I don't understand it. What has changed? I think it is the population using WiFi, which used to be more technology people and is now just...everybody.

My network is still open, though, and will remain so. Less than once a year I have to throttle a heavy user.

Providers in the Netherlans do this, with the twist that it is only available to the subset of their customers that open their network to others: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal/newsreleases/detail...

That link describes a test, but AFAIK, the test was succesful, and they will go full ahead (rumor has it that they will want to buy spectrum in an auction going on right now to fill gaps in that network)

I think a major ifference is that they provide hardware that separates the public network from your private one.

I don't like how the pitch and the implementation instructions diverge. The pitch uses technology that read 'pop our Considerable Use policy when they connect', 'firewall users so they can't see each other', 'use a separate network so yours doesn't get slower'.

There's an assumption that if you name your SSID openwireless.org that it somehow ties them to the Considerable Use guidelines. Which means that people searching for free wifi will find the SSID, after they connect will go to the website, and then find the little yellow bar and click on it, scroll down, and read a decent sized paragraph that politely asks them not to stream HD movies.

Yet on the page there is only 1 with a setting for QoS (which won't prevent the types of problems you want it to), and one with 'firewalling users' (which doesn't shield users from each other, only prevents them from routing into your subnets). Not to say that it's their fault - most routers don't have the features available to actually segment and properly prioritize different sets of users.

I read the FAQ and thought they figured out how to solve these difficult problems on simple platforms, only to be disappointed with the tutorials that simply opened networks up.

Agree. The technical methods to implement QoS, dual wifi networks (or tor funneling) is rather hard to do. I would like to see a UPnP program that you install on a server, and then it would autoconfigure the wifi-network if possible. Something like a "one-click and your done" solution.

Have there been any prosecuted 'piracy' cases, anywhere in the world, where an open network is involved? Until there is, I believe running an open network is an excellent idea where you can afford to do so (afford being: no data caps, you have a fully separate secure private network for your own use, and you can limit bandwidth).

If I understand corectly this is basically the same concept as BT Openzone http://www.btwifi.com/. 3.5m "hotspots" now apparently, most of them domestically hosted via their "homehub" router.

More like FON http://www.fon.com/en

But yes, OpenZone is very similar. OpenZone lets BT know the end subscriber, based on the user name of the device on the HotSpot.

Clarifying: illegal in Spain.

Copied from the 'general conditions' of an ADSL contract in Spain (Telefónica):

"Queda expresamente prohibida la [...] compartición de recursos fuera del domicilio"

(The sharing of resources out of the domicile is expressively forbidden).

The link is here: http://www.movistar.es/rpmm/estaticos/residencial/fijo/banda... Won't do this in Spain.

Firstly, breaking a contract is not "illegal". The ISP's recourse is probably limited to terminating the contract.

Secondly, just because it's written in the contract doesn't mean it's legally enforceable.

Thirdly, just because it's legally enforceable doesn't mean it's enforceable in practice.

Fourthly, just because it's enforceable in practice doesn't mean it's enforced.

You're right jowever I sign that conract in good faith and conscious of the consequences. I do not want to break it just for some ethereal good-will.

Sorry for the big-thumbed post... On the other hand, contracts define a 'law' (between the parts: something which forces someone to act/not act in a specified way), they are the basis of civil relations (not civic, civil).

The fact that the other part can do something about it does not mean that I have the right to break it at will.

I believe your contract is unjust. While I can't speak for you personally, I believe many people sign such contracts without regard to their justness, because they don't have market power to renegotiate the contract. And I believe that under such circumstances it's not unethical to "renegotiate" the contract by infringing it and seeing what happens.

We've seen many efforts similar to this over the years.

Can anyone describe why this effort is different from those that came before it?

Great idea, it's how the world should work, but I don't want the risk of attention by prosecutors, Comcast or the RIAA, and I don't want the extra due diligence necessary to definitively define those risks, and I don't want the surprise when any of those entities find new ways to annoy me.

As the owner of my broadband line in the UK, I am legally responsible for everything downloaded with my connection.

As long as this is still the case, this will never happen.

Also, I have to pay if I go over my bandwidth limit. I appreciate there are plans with no limit, but this is a limiting factor for almost everybody.

Your first statement is afaik not correct. 1) It would create a serious issue for the BT Openzone network which turns all BT "homehubs" (a glorified wireless router) into open access points for any other BT subscriber and 2) there have been a number of court cases around downloading of pirated content which have hinged on whether or not the subscriber was responsible.

Regardless of what the theory of the law may seem to indicate, then assuming that The Cloud's MD isn't lying, it looks like the courts may sometimes disagree with you.

"A pub owner has been fined £8,000 because someone unlawfully downloaded copyrighted material over their open Wi-Fi hotspot, according to the managing director of hotspot provider The Cloud."(http://www.zdnet.com/-3039909136/).

Personally, while there's this kind of case being brought, I'd rather not take the risk.

didn't a judge recently rule that an ip does not represent a person?

A judge did, but other judges have decided the opposite. I wouldn't like to risk getting the right judge. And even if I did, I wouldn't particularly fancy risking being dragged through the court system simply to give random other people access to the internet.

1) is not a problem on BT Openzone/FON as the subscriber and open networks are kept separate:-

quick google


Could you [or anyone] quote statute or an official source for your first line assertion, please?

I don't believe that your first sentence is correct, please can you provide citations?

Whatever happened to the startup Fon? Isn't this idea exactly what they're trying to do, but with a private bent?

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