General discussion


Should providers of unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots be fined?

By Why Me Worry? ·
I'm sure we have all seen groups of college students, business people, teenagers, even senior citizens all using their laptops to surf the web using the wireless networks available in places like Starbucks, public libraries, shopping malls, and other retail stores. These wireless networks employ no encryption or security and are basically an open door for anyone smart enough to know how to steal personal information by using a simple sniffer program. This raises a legal issue and begs the questions "Should the provider of the unsecure Wi-Fi hotspot be held liable if someone has their identity stolen by using that hotspot?". Yes, users are uneducated about wireless security and should not be expected to know what WEP or 3DES enryption is, but at the least, these places should display a warning to users of wireless laptops that they are wirelessly surfing the web at their own risk. I'm lobbying my state officials for such a bill to hold places like Starbucks and Atlanta Bread Company liable for what I deem as promoting unsafe computing habits. Do you agree or disagree on holding Wi-Fi hotspot providers liable if someone has his/her identity stolen?

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -

agree to a point

by w2ktechman In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

They should recommend to use a vpn, and post that their wireless is insecure. With that in mind, they should not be held liable if someone gets their information, as even if they were secured, it can be busted. It is like getting a virus on your PC at home, and you try to sue your ISP.
No network is totally safe, especially a hot spot and wireless. But, I think that these insecured hotspots should inform their users that it is insecure. And WEP is outdated, they should use WPA2 for enhanced security.
Also, maybe they should keep flyers available which explain some things to secure themselves a bit more. This would be a win-win situation
instruct that they are at risk and
give out information to help secure themselves

Collapse -

Well, why don't we

by Old Guy In reply to agree to a point

turn their machine on, connect it to the wireless, open their programs, browse the Internet for them and just do it all for them? There is absolutely no excuse at this point that even the most novice user has not heard that these hot spots are not protected. Let them take their own responsibility for their own laptops. If they are not sure how to secure their own PC let them take classes and learn. It is their responsibility. The word is out and on the streets these hot spots are not secure.

Collapse -

You'd be surprised at the ignorance of many users

by Why Me Worry? In reply to Well, why don't we

Not that I am claiming that all users who use Wi-Fi are dumb, but many know about the problems of Wi-Fi security (or lack thereof) and simply don't take it seriously enough until something catastrophic happens to make them think otherwise, such as having their identities stolen. I'm advocating that providers of Wi-Fi hotspots place signs and/or circulate pamphlets informing users about the dangers of surfing the web over a wireless connection and the risks of having personal information compromised. I'm not saying that these providers need to be hit with frivolous lawsuits, the likes of what McDonalds had to deal with because a bunch of obese gluttons, backed by greedy ambulance chaser lawyers, decided to blame McD's for their weight problem and not themselves, but the providers need to assume some responsbility and properly inform people of the risks and dangers of engaging in such activity.

Collapse -

No, I'm not surprised

by Old Guy In reply to You'd be surprised at the ...

but I'm tired of coddling these id10ts. Those who know already have their computers secured and their networks as secure as possible against those who know but are too stupid to care or do anything about it and they deserve to **** up their laptops.

It's just a pet peeve of mine that we cater to these kinds of idiots instead of making them take their own responsibility. That's why the ambulance chasing lawyers have an endless supply.

Collapse -

I agree

by w2ktechman In reply to No, I'm not surprised

that users need to take responsibility, but I do think that having a sign or pamphlet is a good idea.
Because these are areas hit by identity theives, there should be warnings. Besides, I know people who use a computer rarely. These people are usually guided on how to do things by someone that they trust, just because that person knows a little bit. But, that person may just be ignorant as well, or too young to know better.
I am sure that everyone has heard that 8 year olds at home, seem to be the ones who get the computers on-line for parents, etc. Are these kids really thinking of security, or connecting???
having an informative pamphlet would not be a bad thing, however a sign stating that it is an unsecured network may drive some people away. But the sign would be important if the wireless network was not secured at all.

Collapse -

Wheres the Pamphlet at the garbage can???

by mike In reply to I agree

So, to protect myself as a business I should have my customers sign a pamphlet? Maybe we should have the trash collector come by once a month and agree to a "Terms Of Use" with the understanding that someone can go through your trash and they are not responsible for this.

Collapse -

Read again!

by w2ktechman In reply to Wheres the Pamphlet at th ...

did I say sign a pamphlet or a sign or a pamphlet???

What it is too hard for you to put up a sign that tells people to beware when using your wifi hotspot because it is unsecure???

As a business owner, you should already know about putting out signs for hazards like a mopped floor, etc.. These cause physical damage. Why do you think it is not important to warn people that they should be careful on WiFi???

Collapse -


by TonytheTiger In reply to No, I'm not surprised

It's perfectly legal to buy a car without having a driver's license. Now if someone who doesn't have a license buys one then chooses to drive it, not knowing how, and kills someone, who is responsible?

Wwll, in this anology, since the highway is the 'network' on which the crime takes place, I suppose the state would be, right? ([sarcasm]I mean, surely the person who committed a crime by driving without a license wouldn't be responsible, would he?[/sarcasm])

Maybe the answer is to require proof of proficiency before allowing someone to operate a computer. That will generate howls of protest, and maybe spur com

Collapse -

Government Regulation Not the Answer

by tomac In reply to No, I'm not surprised

Trying to enact some kind of bill to require business to hand out pamphelet's is just rediculous. First of all if any kind of bill like this passes, what you will see is business removing thier hotspot to avoid any kind of liability, or start charging customers for use in order to obtain liability insurance. That is what I will do. Maybe the trash collection company should post signs on dumpsters and hand out pamphelets warning people not to throw out bank statements too. Give me a break.

Collapse -

Should e-mail providers be fined too?

by whannemann In reply to Government Regulation Not ...

Now that's great. And what about the e-mail providers that let spyware, trojans and all sorts of malware infect their user's machines? Many thousands of users have given their banking data, including their passwords, unknowingly, to the bads guys... and they were NOT even using WiFi. Educate users - that's the answer.

Related Discussions

Related Forums