Wireless internet has become ubiquitous throughout much of the world, and it’s something that many of us enjoy using while out and about in the world. I regularly search new locations for open access points where I might check my email, fire off a few Tweets, and update my RSS reader while away from home, and many of the people reading this undoubtedly also enjoy saving a few dollars here and there by “borrowing” some of the bandwidth provided by generous neighbors. However, despite enjoying the luxury of using other people’s internet, many of us lock down our own wireless routers in an attempt to prevent the legal complications that arise when an illegal activity is traced back to our IP. But this begs the question: is it okay to openly share our internet with just anyone?
This is something that I’ve asked a number of people over the last year or so as more and more open access points have either disappeared or been locked down with some sort of security. Interestingly enough, the answers have been all over the board. Some have said they’d never share something for nothing, while others view data as something intangible and open to everyone.
Tomoko’s Argument – Lock Them Down
One interesting conversation took place with a female-version of Kenji whom I’ll refer to as ‘Tomoko’. Tomoko started out by saying “I don’t share my gas or electricity, so why would I share my internet?” She then elaborated by saying something along the following:
Would you let someone you don’t know put a box of something into your personal storage closet at home? I wouldn’t. If I share my internet and someone downloads something illegal, then I will be responsible for it. If the police come to my home, they’ll take my home computer, my work notebook, and anything that could store information. Not only would this inconvenience me personally, but it would have an impact on my company because the police would have full access to our company information.I’ll admit that the language wasn’t quite that high, but this is the gist of what Tomoko was trying to get across. It’s not too often that I meet a person who can actually give a reason for their opinions or decisions, so it was nice to hear a good argument against the case.
But it’s not the only one ….
Kenji’s Argument – Do What DoCoMo Is Unwilling to Do
Oddly enough, Kenji’s opinion is almost opposite to Tomoko’s. He believes that everyone should have their wireless routers wide open so that people can be more productive regardless of where they might find themselves. His argument went a little like this:
The internet was created with the hope that people would be sharing and helping others to get connected. We shouldn’t be shutting people out or making things more complicated by adding encryption to non-sensitive systems. This will be a big help if someone has trouble with their own connection, or if they are visiting somewhere. If someone could make a cheap or free call over the internet in exchange for keeping their own home internet open the benefits would very quickly outweigh the potential dangers. We’d all save money in the long run and it would send a clear message to the large corporations that we shouldn’t be paying so much money for the weak or non-existent wireless data connections they’re so fond of overcharging us for.To think that Kenji could be altruistic at all … will wonders never cease? But he does raise an interesting point for those of us who are tired of being charged ridiculous prices for the “convenience” of poor reception for data devices (such as e-mobile’s joke of a system).
A Little of Column A …
Personally, I like the idea of a semi-open system. I’ve installed an alternate firmware for my wireless router that effectively turns it into a hotspot provider. The Mrs. and I (of course) have a full subscription that will never expire and can access the networked resources, but anyone else that connects will be given 5 MB of free data and then asked to buy a one-day オーペンパッス (Open Pass) that will give them full internet access for 300円. Interestingly enough, I’ve actually made a grand total of 2100円 this year with the package. To keep things fair for the Mrs. and I, Torrents are blocked from the Open Pass packages but, if the neighbors were really looking for some great wireless internet, I’d buy a 100MB internet package and put access points all over the neighborhood in a bid to dissuade people from using the piss-poor SoftBank Yahoo!BB DSL service … all the while earning enough to pay for the service and any maintenance that might need to be performed.
Well … that’s the idea, anyway.
What’s your opinion on the matter? Should everyone lock down their wireless internet connections? Should they be open? If everyone had a hotspot-like firmware installed to allow people access to the internet for a nominal fee, would that be enough? I’d love to hear your thoughts.