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Finland To Legalize Use of Unsecured Wi-Fi 151

Apotekaren writes "The Finnish Ministry of Justice has started preparing changes to a current law that criminalizes using unsecured wireless hot spots (Google translation; Finnish original). The reasoning includes the impossibility of tracking unlawful use, the ease of securing networks, and the lack of real damage done by this activity. It is also hard for a user to know if an unsecured network is intended for public use or not. The increased ubiquity of legal, open networks in parks, airports, and other public places has also influenced this move by the Ministry of Justice."
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Finland To Legalize Use of Unsecured Wi-Fi

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  • Re:Name Change (Score:5, Informative)

    by DMNT ( 754837 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @03:38PM (#32540462)

    The finnish legislation standard used to be (until 2000's where they passed some questionable laws) to lay down technologically neutral laws, where the technology used played no important role but the action did. This proposed legislation is just an exception to be amended to the current law, which regulates the use of other people's property, which you currently are not allowed to use without a prior permission. Currently some of the facilities offer free WiFi without informing you of such and this behaviour would be illegal by the law even when it's not easy to detect or to prosecute. So they are for the sake of clarity, going to make an exception because it is often hard to find out whether you're allowed to use the open network or not.

    The human translation for newstext:

    Joining a wireless accesspoint to be legalized

    The ministry of justice is forming a law to allow use of unprotected WiFi access points. By the current law the unauthorized use of open networks has been illegal.

    The exception is rationalized by for example, the lack of harm done, impossibility of oversight and the relative easiness of protecting the network. For the end user it is also often difficult to find out when the network is meant for public use and when it is not.

    The statements received by the ministry of justice (which includes EFFI, Electronic Frontier Finland, by transl.) remind that the avilability of free WiFi access has increased in public space such as parks and air fields and they don't always inform the end user of the free availability.

    According to the ministry of justice, there has been only one sentence for the use of unsecured WiFi by the district court. Higher court upheld the decision and it never went to the supreme court.

    Most of the statements were for the legalization. However, many of them held it in high value that the owner of the access point should be held innocent in case of the illegal use of the access point.

    Experts' opinion is that a lot of the WiFi access points are unsecured and the unauthorized use of them is common. Securing of the access point is usually easy when following the manuals of the access point.

    The unauthorized use of the access point might slow the network down but it is hard to note unless there's a lot of file transfers compared to the bandwidth available.

  • by Anssi55 ( 729722 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:01PM (#32540832) Homepage

    There seems to be some confusion. The law in question only forbids unauthorized access. It does not forbid unsecured Wi-Fi itself (yes, summary is wrong).
    And now they may be changing the law to allow accessing unsecured Wi-Fi without asking for permission.

  • Re:Name Change (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anssi55 ( 729722 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:05PM (#32540898) Homepage

    What is surprising (to me at least) is that the unsecured WiFi was illegal in the first place.

    Only accessing them without a permission is illegal (as said in TFA; the summary fails to mention that, however)

  • by dropadrop ( 1057046 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:07PM (#32540938)

    Also, worth noting, that these countries, despite their low populations and high standard of living, are not in the list of struggling economies, even during this "European crisis".

    Absolutely brilliant. :-)

    To be fair, Finland and Sweden have not been doing especially well during this crisis. Both countries are highly dependent on exports that have been doing badly. Finland had a huge drop in both exports and gdp (In Finland GDP was -7.8% last year, a drop of 9% since the previous year) during 2009, and the government took a huge loan just to keep things running. The good part is, that we don't have as much debt as more southern countries, so on the big picture things still look ok.

  • by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:21PM (#32541150) Homepage Journal
    I do exactly this with Tomato WRT. QoS throttling for all unknown devices down to around ISDN speeds. It can be circumvented of course, but I don't really see that happening.
  • by Second_Derivative ( 257815 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @04:42PM (#32541494)
    It's also the country that passed Lex Nokia [] not too long ago. Certainly the Finnish situation isn't as bad as it is in the UK and the US, but it's still not perfect.
  • by amazeofdeath ( 1102843 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:18PM (#32542278)

    It isn't illegal in Finland, *unauthorized* use of unsecured WiFi connections is currently. The lawmakers are trying to clear the situation, as the user can't know whether he has a permission or not to use the open connection. The current law defaults to no permission, the new should default to open -> permission.

  • by amazeofdeath ( 1102843 ) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:26PM (#32542414)

    There's no ban on *having* an unsecured WiFi access point in Finland. The bad wording in TFS muddles it a bit, but the point is that *unauthorized* use of an open WiFi access point is illegal currently. The new law is supposed to allow any use of open WiFi networks, as it can easily happen accidentally, the user often doesn't know whether there's a permission to use the network, and encrypting the network is pretty damn easy.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard