A New York Times front page story this morning here reports 10 million homes in the United States now have WI-FI. The spread of wireless internet access to college campuses is mentioned too. All of this is good news for online learning. But the Times tells us about the connectivity in a very different and, they seem to think, scary context. It was ever thus! The scary news is that identity thieves and pornographers are sometimes using our open networks, which provide access up to 200 feet. That is pretty scary: a bad guy lurking within 200 feet of the kitchen table where Junior is doing his homework on a wireless laptop. And this quotation from a sleuth who looks for these bad guys would surely scare almost any reader:
How would you feel if you’re sitting at home and meanwhile someone is using your Wi-Fi to hack a bank or hack a company and downloads a million credit card numbers, which happens all the time?
Now, wait a minute. Does that mean I could sit at home and do the same thing? It seems to me it is up to the bank and company that have those numbers to protect them from hacking. The other example meant to cause fear of WI-FI is this:
police spotted a wrong-way driver ‘with a laptop on the passenger seat showing a child pornography movie that he had downloaded using the wireless connection in a nearby house’
Is the reader supposed to assume from that sad image that the people in the house should not have open WI-FI? What would we assume if the weirdo were showing her a porno magazine? Censor the press??? Now the New York Times would not like that at all. The traditional drumbeat of mainstream media against the internet is bad news indeed. Click here for a report on WI-FI in schools that gives a different example of a kid sitting in a car using a wireless laptop – that includes this comment:
‘I’ve heard stories of students on the weekend sitting in their parents’ car just outside school, accessing the network,’ Mr. Sprague said. Wireless access, he said, ‘enables learning to happen when it is convenient for the student and teacher.