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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?

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Here's your sign...

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

Sign on potential Girlfriend: Sex with me may lead to pregnancy.
this is so the guy can not claim in court that he had no idea she might get pregnant when being sued for child support...


Sign on potential Boyfriend: warning, i have no intention of calling you in the morning.
this will aide in the possible "truth in advertising" laws. He said he would call me your honor...

Sign on pack of condoms: you must use product to realize full protection...
this is to avoid potential lawsuit where the guy actually only thought he had to buy it, not actually use it...

Sign on lighter: flame may be hot, do not touch flame... self explanatory...

I could go on with potential signs but the bottom line is this, if you make it available they may come, if you have a lot of money and make it available then they will sue...

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LOL

by w2ktechman In reply to Here's your sign...

But looking at my lighter, it does have a sign... WARNING... starts it off.

So what is the problem with putting a sign up specifying that it is not secure?

Do you think that continuing the ignorance is the best thing to do???

I actually like the idea of leaving a pamphlet stating some basic things to HELP protect.

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Ok, if the business decides to leave a pamphlet...

by mike In reply to LOL

then great. here's how I see it and maybe I'm being a little myopic. As soon as businesses start placing signs then they begin a tacit agreement that they have some sort of responsibility. Once they do this then you start the lawsuits.

But I would rather see them start placing signs instead of the Feds mandating something... but personally, I say if you go to a WiFi hotspot then let the buyer beware...

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This is tough

by Tig2 In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

Access to a hotspot for me is no big deal- my firewall will tell me if there is a problem. But I also know to use a firewall and I will be pretty guarded about what I do in a hotspot- checking a web enabled email account? Probably. Surf generally? Likely. Use a credit card? No way!

But then again, I have a good feel for what I am doing. And while I think that others should be as savvy, the fact is that they aren't.

I'm more aware because I have been a victim of ID theft and not because I engaged in risky behaviour. Someone else did.

I don't see an easy answer to this. I would love to see signage and possibly a take away that tells an end user what the risks are. I don't know that a legal liability statement would be enforcable.

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Users need to be responsible

by Bill_CA In reply to This is tough

The wi-fi providers are not the ones who took the decision to put "personal" information on the laptop, so why should they be responsible if it is stolen? The legal system has gone the wrong route. The fat person is responsible if they eat too much at McDonald's. The smoker is responsible if they try a cigarette and become addicted. People need to protect their own laptops. You don't see people suing the city because they didn't lock their house and the city failed to protect it. Get real. People need to learn to take responsiblity for their own actions, and not blame it on anyone they perceive to have money. It's not T-mobile's hard drive on that laptop computer, so why should they have to protect it?

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Not tough

by Roger99a In reply to This is tough

This isn't tough at all. We're talking about stolen goods. The criminal is the one who stole them, not the property owner. Making people responsible for other people's ignorance and bad behavior should be illegal.

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Roger that, Roger.

by Old Guy In reply to Not tough

Totally agree with you.

Sorry, couldn't resist the little play on words. :)

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I would...

by -Q-240248 In reply to This is tough

I would use a credit card transaction over a public wifi connection, provided it's an SSL site, which most if not all sites are nowadays anyways. What's the problem using credit card transactions? It's encrypted from your PC to their site!

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I've heard of SSL spoofing, so don't be too confident

by Why Me Worry? In reply to I would...

For what it's worth, SSL is a great technology, but it isn't all that hard to setup your own Certificate Authority and mint your own phony X.509 certificate to impersonate the real deal. It's been done before by phishers and is continuing to happen every so often.

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That wasn't my point

by -Q-240248 In reply to I've heard of SSL spoofin ...

The only thing I care about is some form of mitigation to casual snooping; encryption, and not the myriads of ways to hack, phish, trojanize and whatever else can be used to get passwords and other private data. It's a layer of protection that is good enough to thwart casual snooping.

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