The Redistribution of Wireless Wealth: What is the Right Thing to Do?

My son received an ipod touch for Christmas from his mother.  With it he is able to connect to the internet where he can check his email and surf the web almost like he does when he sits before his computer.  My son’s and my PC are wired into our router in our basement.  My daughter has a wireless connection to the router for her computer in her upstairs bedroom.  Given that we had a degree of space to cover with the wireless option, I got a router that blasts quite a bit  more signal than I really need to cover my house.

I thought my wireless connection was password protected, but when my son set up his ipod touch in my house, we found that it is not, and thus anyone who has a wireless card could pick up my signal – throughout my block, I would guess.  This discovery led to my current ethical dilemma:  should I password protect my wireless connection?  Am I diminished in any way when someone, I don’t know, uses my wireless connection?  Does it cost me more if someone else uses the connection?  Since I think the answer to both questions is “No”.  I plan to leave it unprotected.  Am I missing anything in my thinking here, is what I am wondering?

If someone was using my internet access to commit cyber-crimes that would make me reconsider my decision, but I don’t know of that happening, and doubt I could ever know if that happened or not.  Should this possibility be enough to make me reconsider?  Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.


Filed under Ethics, The Internet

16 responses to “The Redistribution of Wireless Wealth: What is the Right Thing to Do?

  1. I know the more devices that access my wireless connection, the slower it goes. If Griffin and I are both surfing the net and a couple (or more) of the kids or grand kids are doing same on laptops or iPhones we all get slower connection speeds.

  2. While the signal may be picked up, for security reasons I’d advise use of WEP or WPA encryption. This would discourage the casual “borrower” of the signal from leeching. They will get the signal, but w/o the key, no use of the signal might be made.

    BTW, if you are connected to the router via a cable, this makes the connection much more secure. Your daughter’s wireless communications are, for purposes of this discussion, the ones subject to interception (same for the iPod Touch stuff by your son).

    Totally over-simplified and incomplete, but there it is.

  3. As for cyber crimes, or downloading child porn, e.g., you would likely not know absent the slow-down fnord mentions until the appropriate authorities appear with warrants; another reason to encrypt.

    • To amplify a bit; the authorities would, in all likelihood, trace via IP addresses, which, if your signal is “in the clear” and being used by a nefarious third party be traced first to the router’s address and the ISP’s address. As both would be connected to you, there would be a prima facie showing of probable cause. Of course, after seizing the computers, etc., and not finding anything, and after a colleague of mine is retained, eventually you would be cleared. Takes a whole lot of time and money, though.

  4. Child porn??? I had not even thought about that. And I am suspecting that none of my neighbors who might be piggy-backing on my signal would never think of that either.

    Do they give classes in Law School on considering the worst of all possibilities? Given that you are able to consider those possibilities, does that ever have a diminishing effect on your enjoyment of your fellow man? Not being critical, but seriously curious, instead.

    In my work I am around cops and ER doctors enough that I think their ways of seeing things have rubbed off on me, to some degree anyway, and I am not sure I am “better”off because of that.

    • When in law school, it is hammered into the student in first year classes in particular by use of the “Socratic Method” and hypotheticals that one must consider all possibilities when analyzing a fact pattern, be they good, bad, or neutral. Those who survive to become 2Ls have some degree of mastery of this.

      Enjoyment of my fellow man diminished? Nah, just makes one less surprised by stuff that happens to, or as the result of the conduct of, one’s fellow man (or woman, as the case may be). Otherwise, it would just make one crazy. 🙂 Lord knows, I don’t need additional assistance in that area.

    • Criminals always count on nice people like you that would never dream of doing whatever it is they are planning to do. It is the first thing that I thought of because it is one of the most heinous things you can do with a computer–the child porn thing. And why would a pedophile take a chance on his own computer when he could use yours?

      And on the subject, Kansas continues to mull these really bad laws that ban convicted offenders from living within a certain distance of schools and day care centers. Why do I say they are bad laws? My reasoning is two-fold; 1) there is a school or daycare center on almost every street in the suburbs, especially when you take in-home daycares into the equation, and this makes it almost impossible for these people to find a place to live–and we are all better off if they can find a place among alert citizens who will keep an eye on them; and 2) the last thing we want to do is to create pedophile communities where they all live together and share their perversion and support each other in it. There have already been cases where these people get together and commit these crimes in pairs or groups. That is a much more dangerous situation and one that we DO NOT want to unknowingly encourage.

  5. Oh, and thanks for the link.

  6. David B

    I think it is best to keep my door locked. Though when I travel about, it’s nice to find a wifi access point left unguarded!