Queensland cops have always been on the forefront of the digital age, whether its catching Wi-Fi freeloaders or detaining tech journalists for funsies. Now, residents of the country’s north-eastern state will soon have their wireless networks prodded for holes by the Sunshine State’s finest.
The initiative, called the “War Driving Project”, will involve a “letterbox drop” containing helpful information of keeping your network protected, an accompanying website and patrols of police scanning suburbs and business districts for free-for-all Wi-Fi signals.
What’s the motivation for the initiative? According to Brian Hay, a detective superintendent for the Queensland Police, they’re not so much worried about people stealing bandwidth as they are about identity theft. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
“We have known of people whose Wi-Fi has been hacked and used to commit data theft, stalking and other serious crimes such as downloading child exploitation material,” [Hay] said. “I would think it’s very important to save mum and dad or grandma and grandpa from becoming suspects in a serious crime or possibly losing their life savings, having their identity stolen or losing the kids’ inheritance.”
That’s a much bigger deal than losing a few gigabytes off one’s download limit, definitely. Still, even with this noble aim in mind, is the act of wardriving itself an invasion of privacy? I’m sure the cops don’t plan to jump onto unsecured networks and check out your share drives any time soon, but if I was super-paranoid, this would sound like a solid stepping stone to me.
Image: Highway Patrol Images.