Generally well-informed piece from CTV in Canada exposes man's kiddie porn downloads from unprotected Wi-Fi networks: It had to happen, but you can't have sympathy for a man driving the wrong way down a one-way street, naked from the waist down, downloading child pornography. Child porn is one of the worst crimes against humanity that doesn't (necessarily) involve direct violence, and now it's come to unprotected Wi-Fi networks.
The article makes it very clear that wardriving can be benign, which goes a lot further than similar writing elsewhere. The police don't sound as well informed as they should be given the accusations they're making. First, the report makes it sound as if they are calling wardriving itself telecommunications theft. Because wardriving is a passive activity at its heart, that's hard to make a case for. Second, the sex crimes child exploitation office notes people have actually gone to the trouble of spray painting red Xs in front of houses. I don't really believe this; it smacks of urban myth.
A few years ago, a neighbor across the street knocked on the door quite flustered. Someone had broken into the house she and two other folks were renting. She wasn't sure the burglar had left. We called the police. In the meantime, she discovered that not only were some of her underthings missing, so were her wisdom teeth--she'd had them pulled years before and they were in a manila envelope in her jewelry box. The policeman who arrived told us quite solemnly that the teeth were stolen to be used in a satanic ritual. He was reading a book about it.
The Red X of Free Wi-Fi sounds equally urban mythologized, but I'm ready to be proven wrong with photographic evidence that's not the result of utility workers marking gas and water lines.
I didn't buy into the series of ridiculous claims made over the last year or so about how open Wi-Fi access points would aid terrorists (terrorists don't need to be so conspicuous or easy to track to a physical location), spammers (who would apparently drive up and shoot millions of emails out instead of using the millions of unsecured mailers available worldwide), and other ne'er-do-wells (using Kazaa and downloading pirated music and software).
But this is more troubling. In fact, I can see that a very small number of child porn aficionados could ruin it for everyone, because if you're already mentally unbalanced or poorly made up enough to want to pursue one of the most prima facie illegal acts in most countries, an open Wi-Fi network is probably the ideal method of acting on it.
Hopefully, this won't turn into a weird backlash against community and other free networks that don't require accounts or tracking. I believe that purposely open networks are much less appealing than accidentally open networks: purposely open networks give the impression, at least, that someone's watching, and thus a malefactor would avoid it.