Pros, cons and legal problems of open WiFi

Nowadays it is hard to find a place with less than 3 WiFi networks in range of our network card. Even though most of the access points are already protected by WPA, occasionally some are either not secured at all, or are secured by WEP (basically they are not secured either). When visiting a new place, or using laptop beyond reach of our internet access it is especially tempting to ‘perform penetration testing’ of such networks and eg check email. While most of these incidents will go unnoticed by owner of the access point and does little harm – which means that there is no enough reason to involve law enforcement resources and criminal prosecution – sometimes it turns into outright stealing of bandwidth and ‘free’ source of internet. Unfortunately it is hard to define what exactly constitutes of unauthorised access as well as proving guilt of perpetrator.

Most jurisdictions, as well as convention on cybercrime, includes crime of unauthorised access to computer network. Using often included very broad definitions, which commonly states that computer network is group of interconnected devices which perform automated data processing it is easy to say that accessing someone’s WiFi falls under this definition. The problem that arises is that most of the time stealing wireless connection is completely different felony that ‘unauthorised access to computer network’. It rarely includes breaking into other machines connected to hotspot and intercepting or altering data stored there – the very core of ‘hacking’. As a result either sanctions defined in statues have to be very broad to include all possible situations on the spectrum, or adequately high punishment could be applied to rather petty crime. Much more problems in this case however rises the very definition of unauthorised.

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Cameron’s porn firewall – war on [something] at best

I’ve postponed writing on UK porn filter for quite a time. It was almost to easy to predict how things will begin and how it will unwind. Yet with filter blocking site of Claire Perry, MP and one of the biggest proponent of porn block it is impossible to resist smugly saying: I’ve told you so. Three years earlier, in 2010, the same Ms Perry started a debate on introducing such a filter. The points raised were too, almost to easy to predict: children, with their annoying ability to be early adopters of new technology, are particularly heavy users of the internet (that is actually a quote), pornography is widely and freely available on the internet, pornography is harmful and damaging to children, entire history of human perversion and deviation is available at the fingertips also parents does not know how to install filters by themselves (that’s also actually said). It is almost surprising that nobody just stood up and shouted ‘please think of the children’. Let’s not forget that at this time some forms of pornography were already banned due to Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Specifically it banned ‘extreme pornographic images’ which involved presenting acts which included acts threatening person’s life, acts of violence that might result in serious injury of anus, breasts or genitalia finally, acts of bestiality and necrophilia. Important to note is that it outlawed not (or rather not only) depiction of actual acts of violence but staged acts involving actors who consented. Jumping back to 2013 on July 22 Cameron announced that four biggest ISPs in the UK will block porn on default, threating further law changes if necessary and finally on 13th of December BT announced that new customers will have their porn blocked.

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