IDA article o’ the Week: Regulating the Coffee-House Wireless Service

This article caught my attention this morning: Bill takes aim at anonymous hot spots -- like the local coffee shop.

It discusses a recent bill introduced in congress that would require customers that use wireless Internet service in a business or other public space to disclose their identity.

"Just because Wi-Fi is free to the user, it doesn't have to be sort of a free-for-all anonymous, irresponsible service," said MacKinnon. Many big chains that offer Wi-Fi access, such as Starbucks, do so via user accounts, he noted.

"It seems to me sort of strange that when it comes to Wi-Fi, people feel that Wi-Fi should not be managed by account. I think it's just because the culture preceded the capability," said MacKinnon. "Increasingly, people realize that if they try to create mischief from home or work, it's too easily traced to them, so their first thought is [to] go and use Wi-Fi in public. ... Unfortunately, that takes advantage of the businesses that are providing the free Wi-Fi."

Just the other day I was buying some songs on Amazon and I took note of the fact that they have about six or seven of my credit cards on file. Now Starbucks is going to know all the websites I visit.


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