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Hyperbole Trumps Journalism

In a story entitled “WiFi Turns Internet Into Hideout for Criminals,” the Washington Post asserts, among other things:

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.

An open WiFi signal is nothing of the sort for people who make routine adjustments for safety of the data in their own computer, such as a firewall on one’s own PC. It’s entirely possible to run an open signal without seriously jeopardizing one’s own data in the way the article suggests through its painfully strained analogy.

The article goes on:

One way to combat it [the need for house-cleaning] 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.

Oh, really? A password-protected network using, for example, WEP “security” is little better than an open one. It may be worse, because it can create a false sense of personal safety.

The second quote gets to the real agenda of the story — or at least the agenda of the law-enforcement sources who probably convinced the reporter to do the piece in the first place. They want to stamp out open networks, period. And as they see cities starting to offer WiFi, they want to prevail on governments to force a registration system that will track everyone who uses such municipal systems.

That’s an issue worth discussing. Misinformation doesn’t help.

2 Comments on “Hyperbole Trumps Journalism”

  1. #1 The Waving Cat » Blog Archive » Washington Post buys into anti-wireless rhetorics, fails.
    on Feb 12th, 2007 at 3:19 am

    […] (via Center for Citizen Media Blog) […]

  2. #2 Don’t blame WiFi networks, focus » Make You Go Hmm
    on Feb 12th, 2007 at 6:55 am

    […] Gillmor smells a possible police agenda: They want to stamp out open networks, period. And as they see cities starting to offer WiFi, they […]