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Can making your Wi-Fi public improve your privacy?

Can making your Wi-Fi public improve your privacy?
Photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

I've told you for years that you absolutely, without a doubt, must secure your Wi-Fi to stay safe from hackers and snoops. Click here if you want a reminder on the steps to secure your Wi-Fi.

Now, however, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is saying that opening up your Wi-Fi might be better - sort of.

The EFF is releasing software called Open Wireless Router. You'd load it on your router and it would help you create a second, open network that anyone could use. You would still use an encrypted network for your own gadgets, of course.

Every open hotspot will have the name "OpenWireless.org". That makes it easy to get online no matter where you are.

To keep strangers from bogging down your Internet, you can set how much data they can use - say 5 percent of your connection. That's enough for checking Facebook, but not streaming movies. Everything is controlled with a smartphone or tablet app.

This is similar to Comcast's recent plan to use the routers of its Xfinity customers to create public Wi-Fi hotspots. Except you'd have more control over the hotspot.

The EFF has a few reasons for suggesting this:

“We want to encourage a world of open wireless, sharing Wi-Fi with each other for privacy, efficiency, and innovation in devices that don’t have to fall back on subscriptions to wireless carriers,” says EFF activist Adi Kamdar. Many locked wireless networks sit idle for much of the day, Kamdar argues.


One goal of OpenWireless.org, says EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo, is dispelling the legal notion that anything that happens on a network must have been done by the network’s owner. “Your IP address is not your identity, and your identity is not your IP address,” Cardozo says. “Open wireless makes mass surveillance and correlation of person with IP more difficult, and that’s good for everyone.”

The first version of the Open Wireless Router software should be available in mid-July. Would you use it? Let me know in the comments.

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Source: Wired
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