Ask the Readers: Do You Run an Open Wi-Fi Network?

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By Jason Fitzpatrick on May 4th, 2011

2011-05-04_150343

Last week the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent out a call to action encouraging people to join the Open Wireless Movement. Do you agree with their stance or is Wi-Fi sharing risky business?

Photo by Emei.

While at first glance the question seems pretty binary: “Yes, I do run an open Wi-Fi network” or “No, I don’t run an open Wi-Fi network”, it’s significantly more complicated when you factor in your motivations. The EFF call to action (which you can read in its entirety here) highlights some of the thing that scare people away from sharing their Wi-Fi: fear of litigation if someone does something illegal on their connection, fear of losing their service if their ISP finds out, desire to stop people from free riding on your connection (and hogging your bandwidth in the process), and concerns over privacy and the integrity of personal data on the network.

None the less many people still run open Wi-Fi networks in order to share the wealth—although lots of people use their router software to limit how much bandwidth other users can suck up.

We’re curious how you deal with this situation? Do you lock your Wi-Fi down completely? Do you leave it wide open? Do you use the router to limit access but provide a small section of bandwidth for the travel-weary and data-hungry pedestrians that pass by? If you do lock down your network would you be enticed to run it open (or partially open) if you knew that the RIAA wouldn’t send a team of ninjas to kill your dog if your neighbor’s kid downloaded the latest top 40 albums?

Sound off in the comments with your stance on the matter and, more importantly, your technological work-arounds if you’ve decided to join the Open Wi-Fi movement. Make sure to check back in on Friday to see our What You Said roundup of your tips, tricks, and opinions.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/4/11
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