Liberate Wi-Fi, go to jail

Engadget’s posted about the Wi-Fi Liberator Toolkit, an open source toolkit for Apple laptops that enables you to “liberate” paid-for wireless networks and make them available to others for free. The project says:

Most of these “closed” networks are deployed in “waiting” areas with the promise of “convenience” to allow pedestrians or commuters access to the Internet, however they nevertheless impose a monetary and time-based restriction on who can connect as well as for how long, often with “hourly” or “daily” rates for connectivity. Wifi-Liberator is a reaction against these limits to access by lifting the constrictions associated with paid networks and turning them into “free” networks.

The project finds inspiration from the Open Source movement’s ability to turn once “commercial” software into freely available and distributable entities.

I think that’s a little misguided: surely sharing paid Wi-Fi is more akin to cracking Office and putting it on Bittorrent, or burning DVD copies for others?

If you like the sound of Wi-Fi Liberator, it’s worth mentioning three things: you still need to connect to the closed network before you can share it, so as far as I can tell you’ll need to pay for the access you give others for free; it’s almost certainly against the T&Cs of Wi-Fi services; and here in the UK, you might fall foul of the Computer Misuse Act or even the Terrorism Act (which classes interfering with or disrupting computer networks as terrorism).

6 thoughts on “Liberate Wi-Fi, go to jail

  1. Stephen says:

    I can totally see that working: “Hey guys, I just sweated through working out how to connect to this hotspot, and have plunked down my own hard-earned credit card to make it happen, but now I’m just going to let you all have access for free, and you don’t have to lift a finger! I’ll just be sitting here in case you have any problems, waiting for you to finish, so just let me know when it’s OK for me to go!”

    It’s a clear winner. Wonder why no-one else thought it would work before?

  2. Gary says:

    The point escapes me too. Apparently the plan is – if everybody’s piggybacking on a handful of wi-fi hotspots it’ll make the providers offer it to everyone for free.

  3. Squander Two says:

    What gets me is their bizarre use of inverted commas. Are they saying that these networks aren’t really closed (in which case, why do they want to open them?), that people don’t really wait in so-called “waiting” areas, that “hourly” and “daily” rates are really monthly and yearly rates in disguise, and that they’re trying to make these networks free in a paying-us-money sort of a way?

    > if everybody’s piggybacking on a handful of wi-fi hotspots it’ll make the providers offer it to everyone for free.

    Yes, I’m sure that would be the reaction. After all, it worked for joyriders and car manufacturers, didn’t it?

  4. tm says:

    They do seem to be operating under the assumption that convenience = Free.

    Which is, of course, nonsense.

    And Jo is right – what is with those inverted commas? It’s not just nonsense – it’s pretentious nonsense!

  5. Dave says:

    “Wifi-Liberator is a reaction against these limits to access by lifting the constrictions associated with paid networks and turning them into “free” networks”.
    I’m sure that there’s a word for that in the dictionary. Hang on, I’ll look it up……Ahh, here it is. “THEFT”

  6. tm says:

    Yeah – it’s basically the same as connecting a wire to a phone line at a nearby telegraph pole in order to get free phone calls – The only difference being that its not a per-call charging model.

    Doing this stuff is basically the same as *volunteering* to be in the position of the poor sod who gets all those phone calls charged to him – it’s just that your actual bill might not increase because they don’t charge like that. Of course if they bill per MB or the like then…

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