[LINK] Google's WiFi bungle

Craig Sanders cas at taz.net.au
Wed May 19 11:20:44 AEST 2010

On Wed, May 19, 2010 at 05:55:05AM +1000, Stephen Wilson wrote:
> Erecting a neon sign with my personal details is not the same as      
> leaving a wifi network open.  No special equipment is needed to read  
> a sign.                                                               

ditto for wifi. wifi devices are nearly ubiquitous these days. and
becoming more so all the time.

BTW, we're probably only decades away (at most) from direct brain
interfaces to this kind of technology - and at that point, wireless
digital input devices will be indistinguishable from "natural" input
devices like eyes and ears (and even they will have enhancements like
digital zoom, spectrum shifting, volume control, and frequency filters
etc). no special equipment needed - it will be as common then for people
to have such implants as it is common today for people to have mobile

you say that IT people are "obstinately" stuck in a separate world.
it's actually the opposite...technophobes and techno-illiterates with
their heads stuck in the sand refusing to see what's happening around
them(*).  "IT people" who understand the technology and its implications
have been warning about the inevitable problems for years - and privacy
legislation isn't keeping up with the risks. it can't even keep up
with non-technological loopholes like outsourcing, let alone high-tech
avoidance of regulations.

(*) same as you've probably already dismissed my paragraph about
implants as outlandish science fiction. and will, no doubt, wonder in a
few decades why nobody warned you that this was about to happen.

> And putting up a sign could be interpreted as giving implied consent  
> for information on that sign to be collected by others (but even then 
> there will be constraints on how that information can be secondarily  
> used).                                                                

EXACTLY the same argument of implied consent can be made when you
broadcast personal information using radio rather than light.
you're making a false distinction between different kinds of technology
(signs and alphabetically-encoded information on the one hand vs
wireless networks and ascii-encoded information on the other). the fact
that the former has been around for thousands of years doesn't make
it any less technological or less "un-natural" than the more modern
technology. it's still technology, still a "special device", still
requires training and specialised knowledge to understand.

> In contrast, there is no way that simply operating a wifi network     
> (out of the box) represents consent for information on that network   
> to be sniffed, collected and used for god knows what secondary        
> purpose.                                                              


broadcasting information is broadcasting information, regardless of
the medium, regardless of the wavelengths used, regardless of the


craig sanders <cas at taz.net.au>

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