Police Hunt Down WiFi Moochers

Just in case you think you can hide your identity by using someone else’s WiFi to access the Internet, take note of this report in the Wall Street Journal:

Internet-service subscribers can’t hide from police behind their IP addresses, the numbers assigned to devices connecting online.

Now a federal court in Pittsburgh has ruled that people who piggyback on their neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks forfeit privacy too.

The ruling, issued this month, was the first to address the Fourth Amendment rights of such people and the latest to shed light on technologies used by police to locate criminal suspects.

The amendment protects against unreasonable searches by the government, requiring that police get search warrants when suspects have reasonable expectations of privacy. The case also raises questions about people who connect to the Internet through public wireless-access points.

In a 2011 poll conducted by Wakefield Research and the trade association Wi-Fi Alliance, 32% of respondents said they had tried to get on a wireless network that wasn’t theirs. The Wi-Fi Alliance estimates that more than 200 million households use Wi-Fi networks.

Police have to use special software to identify Wi-Fi interlopers because they squat on the same IP addresses as paying subscribers. The central question in the Pittsburgh case, which is headed to a federal appeals court, is whether police can use such software without obtaining a search warrant…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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3 Comments on "Police Hunt Down WiFi Moochers"

  1. You need a subscription to the Wall Street Journal to read the entire article 🙁

  2. BuzzCoastin | Nov 26, 2012 at 8:50 pm |

    if you intend to do something illegal or nefarious on the internet
    and you don’t know anything about obfuscating & securing your connection
    then this disinformation article from the WSJ is for you
    Big Homelander is a Watcher, be advised

  3. one more reason for me to leave my wifi password-free. pity the range is so small.

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