A group of activists launched an initiative, dubbed the Open Wireless Movement, to encourage users to open their private Wi-Fi networks to anyone wanting to check email or online messages on the go, according to the groupâ€™s website.
â€œWe are aiming to build technologies that would make it easy for Internet subscribers to portion off their wireless networks for guests and the public while maintaining security, protecting privacy, and preserving quality of access,â€ the site reads.
The group has designed an Open Wireless Router that allows Wi-Fi owners to allocate a small portion of the bandwidth to strangers without requiring a password. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says sharing will not affect the browsing experience of the owner, who will retain priority over others.
Also, the firmware will allow guest networking, which means the ownerâ€™s private Wi-Fi can be isolated behind a firewall from other guests. This will ban sharing between guest users and prevent traffic sniffing of the main network. For extra security, they recommend the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension.
Regarding taking accountability for illegal actions, the EFF also believes the movement will make it more difficult to tie an IP address to an individual.
â€œFree Wi-Fi everywhere is one of the biggest dreams of mobile users around the world. However, some governments donâ€™t see it that way, as they associate IP addresses with identities and would hold their owner accountable for the traffic originating from that IP. What’s more, countries such as Romania are pushing to force hotspot users to identify themselves when connecting to free networks. Itâ€™s another example when technology makes big things possible, but the legal framework acts against the best interest of the user,â€says Bogdan Botezatu, Senior E-Threat Analyst.
The projectâ€™s site, OpenWireless.org, is supported by organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Free Press, Mozilla, and Fight for the Future. It targets individual users, small businesses, ISPs and developers.
â€œOpen wireless will allow innovators to imagine what they can do with always-on, cheap connectivity regardless of where a person is physicallyâ€ and make possible â€œamazing new technologies,â€ the group says.