The Washington Post runs an article today about police tracing online criminals–mostly pedophiles–to a physical address only to find an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot and not the criminal. The good news in the article is that the police seem to understand that just because something illegal happened over your IP address, it doesn’t mean you did it. The bad news is the “there oughta be a law” implication present in the article. Here’s how the reporter, not a quoted source, describes Wi-Fi:
Open wireless signals are akin to leaving your front door wide open all day–and returning home to find that someone has stolen your belongings and left a mess that needs cleaning. One way to combat it is for people to secure their wireless networks by making them password-protected. But, authorities said, businesses and cities that offer free connections need some way to track the users, such as filtering measures that could scan to see who is accessing the network.
I don’t get the “stolen belonging” analogy, and the “mess that needs cleaning” is a stretch. I’ll let our resident piggybacking expert explain why. Police should be supported in their pursuit of criminals, but there are a lot more innocent people using coffee shop hot spots than pedophiles.