Are You A Good Enough Person To Keep Your WiFi Open To Strangers?

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An older relative was visiting me some years ago and became visibly upset because my wifi network wasn’t guarded by a password. “What if somebody gets onto it?” he asked.

“That’s the idea,” I said. “Wireless Internet should be everywhere, so people can use it.”

Questioned about the security, I said it was perfectly okay with me if some doubtful guest looked inside the Time-Warner cable modem or the wifi base station. None of it was connected to any of my computers, right? (I am not sure if this was actually “safe” or not.) Plus, this was before Netflix Instant Video and the Hulu and all this bandwidth-intensive streaming and the four-way HD sex-clone cams, so using somebody’s wifi signal usually meant “checking email” or something to do with “hax0rz or Warez,” which was sticking it to the man, probably? Remember “warchalking”? This was a retro-hobo hobby for tech kids, who would chalk Depression-era hobo symbols on the buildings that didn’t have passwords on the wifi. And then we got our own Depression and it no longer seemed funny to ironically use hobo symbols when so many were reduced to using these symbols to locate stale food and old blankets.

Anyway, now there’s a new movement to make wifi free again, even though we have the 4G or whatever on the phones and the iPads. Will freedom finally reign? Probably not, because the general human reaction when confronted with a neighbor streaming Downton Abbey off your already slow broadband is to immediately slap on a password and also to report that person to the police for smoking so much marijuana.