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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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finded???-- lol

by w2ktechman In reply to I don't want a fine

ok, I dont think that anything will pass (law) to fine people or institutions if someone does not protect their systems. This would lead to another 80's frivilous lawsuit era, and would not be tolerated, especially because city governance (some cities, more all the time) are providing wireless services for the Internet.

However, I do think that many people are oblivious to security while using these networks.
My suggestions would be to do one or more of these.
1. provide pamphlets with tips and information.
2. when connecting, have an "I Agree" button (often will be disregarded) after an info page.
3. the first 2 can be avoided if a signup is required. Have the information pages and then have a button to "save this page" on the security page, so it can be referenced later, then have the "I Agree" button. to continue.
The security info page should be the first page of the account signup.

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Users' fault

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

Do you expect every free public access provider to issue an SSID and a WEP key to everyone who walks in the door? If they give it to everyone, how is that better than not having it all? How are you going to prove the lost data was due to the hot spot insecurity?

"Yes, users are uneducated about wireless security and should not be expected to know what WEP or 3DES enryption is ..."

NO, users should be expected to know what encryption is! This is another sign of a U.S. culture that refuses to read the damn manual for ANY product. They should be prepared to accept the responisbility of learning what they're doing or they shouldn't be doing it. Why not a law assigning responsibility for the security of data on transmitted over public networks to the data owner, and exempt providers of free services? Put the responisibility back where it belongs. I don't know what your motive is, but it sounds like an attempt to hit on a few deep-pocketed companies.

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It's always someone else's fault...

by MGP2 In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

If people are taught that "Ignorance of the law is no excuse", why shouldn't they be taught that "Ignorance of the proper use and also of the dangers is no excuse" as well? I mean, if someone uses an ATM and they let the person behind them see their pin, should the bank be fined?

I have a feeling that the same people who get hijacked at wi-fi hotspots are also the same ones that'll click on any link in an email promising "Instant Wealth/Larger Endowment/Beauty in a Pill", if they haven't already.

Wow, I feel ten pounds lighter already. ;-)


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by NOW LEFT TR In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

No Way - they give us all free broadband. Ok you never do anything important on an usecured Wi-Fi spot, but hey - if the are stupid enough to leave the thing open in the public domain!

Not sure how such things stand up in Law however.

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Offer them a choice!

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

Since there is no way to protect each individual user at every wireless hotspot you should load an encrytption software like

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More work for lawyers and bigger govenment, no thanks.

by IT Research In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

If you surf the web, you put yourself at risk. Firewalls, AntiVirus tools, Spyware blockers, Phishing Filters, Pop-up blockers help, but nothing is fool proof. A law of this nature would not make Starbucks, Atlanta Bread Company, etc..., require encryption, they would just shut down the service. The cost of litigation would be too high. I for one do not want more government and less features. However, I agree these locations should be required to post a warning along with the advertisement for free WiFi Internet access.

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

You talk about biting the hand that feeds you? ( not that they are feeding you much )

Just like when you walk outside every day your identity can be stolen, now who should be held accountable til the crook is caught?

These places that provide free WiFi are doing you a favor in addition to the shameles advertising. Your identity can be stolen in your own home so whose accountable then? You own a laptop you know whats out there and whose out there, so protect yourself accordingly.

But if I'm going to be held accountable for something some crook did, guess what... I'll up the security on my WiFi network and charge you lemmings. And Oh yes!! I'm just one place, in a remote little corner of my town.

But when the lawsuits start rolling in, it won't be profitable and places start going out of business. More businesses will follow suit. Then you will see terms like; "Prepaid WiFi cards", Sorry no WiFi here, and at the local McDonald would you like to WiFi your meal at the additional cost of $$$ (you fill that in).

I'm a just a waiting for you lemmings.


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by laurent.dujols In reply to OH HELLLL NO!!

WiFi will be free soon. new ways of ensuring security will be found. WiFi will soon replace TVwaves [the frequency is already up for sale since HERTZian TV has moved digital and borrows other channels]. The infrastructure is already out there.
Have you realized how much spam, spy, ads and popups we are already dealing with? Well this is a huge market and no-one will prevent it from growing, even those deep pockets who are trying to steal hotel and cafe customers right now. This is already shifting...

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so is your dedicated phone line

by Dr Dij In reply to Should providers of unsec ...

since anyone could put a tap outside your home and you'd not be likely to notice. ISPs have been known to tap and read communications also. famous case of ISP promoting a book site based on comm. they intercepted to subscribers.

Wireless spots are not inherently unsecure based on lack of encryption since any users should be using SSL to secure sites. hacker did setup rogue wireless connect in a starbucks with almost identical name, hoping users would connect to him instead, and they did. he collected passwords, cc#s by passing thru the traffic to the legitimate network.

I think basically you'd have to be doing something wrong to get hacked so not starbies fault.

Still if you hold starbies accountable it will hinder biz, they may be likely to shut down the hotspots.

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Common Sense

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

I don't access the bank or make purchases on an unsecured network. I don't even keep that type of info saved on my pc. Personally I appreciate the convenience people provide for me by making these networks available, but I do exercise reasonable precautions when I use them. It should be the responsibility of each user to do the same. People who use "unsecured" hotspots should know from the nature of the connection ("unsecured") that it means that what you send may be exposed. Those who want to offer connectivity to the public should not be penalized for trying to make the individual using a laptop able to be more mobile. Let's not make this another case of "No good deed shall go unpunished!"

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