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Police Investigate Offensive Wi-Fi Network Name 890

Posted by Soulskill
from the sounds-like-a-rough-neighborhood dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Police in Teaneck, New Jersey, with apparently too much time on their hands, are investigating an offensive wireless network name. Although the police didn't reveal the name, the New York Daily News reports that it was anti-Semitic and racist in nature. The incident is being investigated as a possible 'bias crime.' It's definitely not what proper people do, but a 'bias crime?'"
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Police Investigate Offensive Wi-Fi Network Name

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  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:53AM (#38760316)

    Its now illegal to dislike anything in America.

    • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:55AM (#38760334)

      Why do you think Facebook only has a Like button? It's government mandated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by scottbomb (1290580)

      Except Republicans, conservatives, Christians, people who respect the constitution. They're all free game.

      • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:16AM (#38760608)

        Except Republicans, conservatives, Christians, people who respect the constitution. They're all free game.

        You almost had a point there until you got around to trolling with the "people who respect the constitution" part.

        And yeah, a lot of people hate a lot of the so-called values that many Republicans, conservatives and Christians have been pushing these days. But that coin has two ugly sides to it, so let's not pretend like there's anything unique going on here.

        • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:32AM (#38760818)

          You almost had a point there until you got around to trolling with the "people who respect the constitution" part.

          No, he's right on that bit too.

          Most people look at the Constitution, pick out the bits they like, and then hate on anyone who disagrees with the parts they like.

          This applies to both sides of the political spectrum, mind you.

          But there are very few who will say "yep, the Supremes ruled that Constitutional (or not), and even though I don't like it, they're right"...mostly it's "I don't like guns, so any ruling in favor of the Second Amendment is WRONG!!!" or "I don't think that States should be able to exercise eminent domain on your property then give it to someone else to make a mall, so it's WRONG!!!!".

          • by NatasRevol (731260) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:51AM (#38761144) Journal

            You might want to pick better examples to make your point. Eminent domain for malls is pretty off.

            From freedictionary.com:

            To exercise the power of eminent domain, the government must prove that the four elements set forth in the Fifth Amendment are present: (1) private property (2) must be taken (3) for public use (4) and with just compensation. These elements have been interpreted broadly.

            Even broadly, malls are not 'for public use'.

      • by FreeUser (11483) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:24AM (#38760710)

        Except Republicans, conservatives, Christians, people who respect the constitution. They're all free game.

        Oh, cry me a river. If you think the last 6 or 8 years have been bad for the right, try the last 30 as a liberal, socialist, or (the group most discriminated against of all) an athiest. Republicans and evangelists got a free ride for 20+ years spewing hate but receiving mostly reason and thoughtful discussion in return. Eventually they abused their position too much, and triggered a small taste back of what they've been dishing out since the early 80s, if not earlier.

        Hating anyone on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, political stance, etc. is wrong, but for you to wax self-righteous over the backlash against the group most responsible for delivering such hatred (c.f. just about any talk radio, not to mention fox or the politicians themselves, e.g. Mr Frothy Mix Santorum).

        In short, Republicans, conservative, and Christians like to dish it out in droves, but can't take the heat when they get even a tiny percentage of it back. As for your disingenous "respect the constitution" crap, they only respect their one narrow interpretation of the constitution, no one else's. Not unlike certain organizations who interpreted the bible one narrow way, and fought a hundred-year war to burn everyone else as heretics.

        • and fought a hundred-year war to burn everyone else as heretics.

          Yeah, no one expected THAT! [wikipedia.org]

    • You're still allowed to hate whitey, especially if whitey has any wealth to speak of. That's perfectly okay, because wealthy whitey is the source of all of the world's ills.

    • by NetTripper (2557374) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:02AM (#38760416)
      America is slowly sliding into the abyss of dictatorship. This is utterly pathetic. Granted the name may have been offensive, but shouldn't we as citizens be allowed to name property we own and use anything we choose? It's like if you had a nick name for X item in your life. And the police found out that name and some how considered it offensive and criminal. I do not think it should be criminal in nature. I feel it should be more civil related, regarding court proceedings. Yes again the American police state rearing it's ugly head!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      Your freedoms end where other people begin. I mean, there's an incredibly obvious distinction to be made between me feeling that your post is sophomoric and inane, and me broadcasting the notion with a megaphone.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:26AM (#38760744) Homepage

      Except that you are in fact completely wrong.

      It's legal for neo-Nazis to march through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, according to the US Supreme Court [wikipedia.org]. It's legal for the KKK to exist. It's legal to stand around at funerals holding signs that say "God Hates Fags".

      It's legal to hate things, or hate people, or hate groups of people, and to voice those opinions. What's not legal is committing a crime based on those opinions.

      What's also quite possible is that the police have overstepped their bounds.

  • by fermion (181285) on Friday January 20, 2012 @09:54AM (#38760322) Homepage Journal
    Another reason to have a closed network. Not so much a security issue, but avoids snooping authorities. Sure they could wardrive, but at least one has a possible affermative defense.

    As it stands, this type of thing is clearly indicates immature people who crave attention, much like people who put huge subwoofers in their car, or loud exhausts on their bikes, or over the top and distracting decorations on their lawns. I support the police giving them the attention they desire.

    • Re:SSID (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:05AM (#38760448)

      Another reason to have a closed network. Not so much a security issue, but avoids snooping authorities. Sure they could wardrive, but at least one has a possible affermative defense.

      As it stands, this type of thing is clearly indicates immature people who crave attention, much like people who put huge subwoofers in their car, or loud exhausts on their bikes, or over the top and distracting decorations on their lawns. I support the police giving them the attention they desire.

      Who says that it was the government snooping? TFA says it was a passer by who caught it in her phone. Please do not invent thinks out of thin air.

      As if it is worth investigating, well... The test should be "If someone would write the same thing on his own property, would we punish him?" If it is yes, then it should investigating because he is painting it every time his WiFi broadcast. If it is not, then what would you when you find him? Tell him to please change the SSID?

      So, mostly it should be a question of it falls under free speech or not, and act in consequence. The fact that the data is not transmitted with visible light but with higher frequencies is irrelevant.

      Also, is it too much asking to The Fine Editor to put less emotional summary. If he has already decided that it is a waste of time, no sense in us being allowed to comment. Just put the text and disable the commenting, if that is what he/she wants. This site quality is going down fast.

    • Re:SSID (Score:5, Informative)

      by mike10027 (1475975) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:07AM (#38760470)
      It's important to note that this isn't somebody's home wifi SSID, this was the SSID of the public recreation center's wifi network. As in, there's a sign outside that says "Free WiFi" and it's funded by the town. These "snooping authorities" are policing public resources, not people's home networks.
      • Re:SSID (Score:5, Informative)

        by SilverJets (131916) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:24AM (#38760716) Homepage

        I think almost everyone commenting in here missed that very important fact.

        So, here it is repeated directly from the article:
        The offending signal was coming from a router connected in the Richard Rodda Community Center in the the township, located 10 miles outside New York City.

      • by rhombic (140326) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:24AM (#38760720)

        Gosh, a router in a public rec center (surrounded by teenagers all day) probably set up by volunteer IT support without the knowledge of how to properly secure it ends up with an SSID straight off of Xbox live? What a shocker.

      • Re:SSID (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:30AM (#38760798) Homepage

        Another way of putting it: A private citizen putting a sign reading "Romanes ite domum" on their front lawn is perfectly fine. The mayor putting "Romanes ite domum" on the lawn of the town hall in a town that's in the middle of a zoning dispute involving the Catholic Church, not so much.

    • Re:SSID (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:15AM (#38760590)

      As it stands, this type of thing is clearly indicates immature people who crave attention,

      Hah.

      My SSID is: "I fucked your wife!", but that's because I actually fucked my neighbor's wife.

  • by Radak (126696) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:06AM (#38760458) Journal

    FTFA: 'Police received similar complaints about the signal Friday during a "teen night" event at the center, the woman said she was told.'

    So, rec-center-owned wifi access point is found on teen night to have an offensive SSID. The likely scenario is that, with a bunch of teens there, many of whom are carrying wifi-enabled devices, one kid noticed that the AP was not password-protected (or possibly had an obvious default password) and decided to log into it and, well, be a dumb kid by changing the SSID to something that made his friends laugh.

    Password protect the AP. Lesson learned. Everybody move on.

  • by sugapablo (600023) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:10AM (#38760518) Homepage
    ...is if there was a target. Like if the WiFi signal was near a Jewish family's home, and let's say the family was named "Cohen". If the WiFi signal overlapped their home and was broadcasting an idea with a threat such as "CohensRKikes" or "DieJewScum" or similar, I can see a crime being involved. But just something like "JewsSuck" or whatever? I'm Jewish. Everyone hates us. It's just part of life. :)
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:16AM (#38760602) Homepage Journal
    I like to name my mobile hotspot "FBI Surveillance Van" and drive around. Clears out the local coffee house in a jiffy!
  • by Bigbutt (65939) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:19AM (#38760642) Homepage Journal

    Don't make it your SSID.

    [John]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:22AM (#38760698)

    Since when being anti-semite is a crime in US ?

  • by digitig (1056110) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:24AM (#38760718)
    Why the "religion" tag? Is everything that slashdotters don't like "religion" now?
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@@@gmail...com> on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:29AM (#38760774) Homepage

    I swear I need to grow up and remove Slashdot from my RSS feeds, just one slanted post after another that invites the most vitriolic discussions and the first posters are such morons for acting like this is a free speech issue, which it isn't.

    1) The network name was, as listed in the fine article: "F--- All Jews and N----" (sic). That should silence you assholes posting like it's no big deal or something.
    2) The router was connected in a public township building, therefore on public property. And the police found the router, but it doesn't seem like they found the culprit. So either someone plugged in a brand new router in the building, or, more likely, someone messed with an improperly secured router. You can't make a case of private property because it wasn't private property.
    3) In terms of harassment, this is no different than someone spray painting the same words on the front door. Sure it's easier to fix, but it's no less offensive.
    4) You have a right to think the way you do, however wrong it is, but you do not have a right to put a sign out on your lawn preaching hate speech just because a bunch of people in your neighborhood are different than you. Everyone else has the right not to feel harassed by hate speech.

    This is a case of vandalism and harassment, i.e a bias crime. If it was some stupid troll who thought it would be funny, he should be rousted by the police and dealt with in a stern but reasonable manner. The courts will decide if the perpetrator was a stupid troll trying to make a joke (which was not funny) or a serial bigot trying to scare people. But how can you determine which if you don't investigate?

    • by pla (258480) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:07AM (#38761372) Journal
      That should silence you assholes posting like it's no big deal or something.

      Still no big deal - Sticks and stones, "get butch, bitch". And, I'd rather know my enemies than have them quietly work to sabotage our attempts at civil society.


      or, more likely, someone messed with an improperly secured router.

      I will agree completely that this one point makes the present issue comparable to an act of vandalism. And thanks to a massive overreaction by everyone involved, some 3th-rate digital "tagger" has gotten national media coverage of his stupid little prank. Congrats, he couldn't have dreamed of a more successful outcome.


      but you do not have a right to put a sign out on your lawn preaching hate speech

      Yes, actually, I do. I don't have the right to put such a sign on your lawn.

      Or do you not consider every church I pass on my way to work condemning me to an eternity in Hell as "hate speech"? Because I do, oddly enough, and the fact that they belong to an socially acceptable religion doesn't make a damned (no pun intended) bit of difference in that.
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:32AM (#38760808)

    Why "anti-Semitic and racist"?

    Why not only racist? Are _they_ racist? Are some forms of racism worse?

  • by Kiralan (765796) * on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:33AM (#38760832) Journal
    Would this fall under the FCC's control of 'hate' speech in a broadcast, as they are 'broadcasting' the name to anyone with a receiver (aka a wi-fi adapter), or does it fall under the local municipalities' laws about public speech?
  • by diodeus (96408) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:42AM (#38760968) Journal

    Someone in an apartment above my local Starbucks named their network "This coffee sucks". It certainly gave me a smile.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Friday January 20, 2012 @10:49AM (#38761110) Homepage Journal

    I'm concerned about this "broadcasting" thing. Are they going to require we follow FCC guidelines concerning what we can "broadcast" on our wifi routers?

    And once they start controlling the "name" we can broadcast, how about the content we can "broadcast"? Will it be illegal to stream "pr0n" over WiFi because that violates FCC rules?

    And if a trucker on a CB Radio has his handle as "queer-killer", or makes a statement regarding how racist, or anti-semetic, or homophobic he is, are they going to investigate it as a hate crime? Or just some bored trucker mouthing off to fellow bored truckers?

    And why is CB radio protected free speech, but WiFi routers are not? Is it because the government and law authorities don't understand those scary computer hackers? Is it because anything more high-tech than a fax machine is misunderstood and feared by grey-haired fat white guys in suits that got elected only because they paid off the right people?

  • free speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scharkalvin (72228) on Friday January 20, 2012 @11:15AM (#38761452) Homepage

    It's a hate crime if you post such a message on SOMEONE ELSE'S PROPERTY. If you post such a sign on YOUR property for all the world to see then it's not a crime, it's free speech. (Of course you will probably be fire bombed, but that's another story). Since Wifi is using public airwaves the FCC might be have something to say about this, but as wifi doesn't require a license they probably don't have a leg to stand on. Now if that router was in a public place (not on private property) maybe there would a legal avenue for the police.

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