The Electronic Frontier Foundation is planning to release software that will allow you to turn a portion of your router into public Wi-Fi hotspot. The kicker is, they say it will make your router more secure.
The move of OpenWireless.org campaign to make free Wi-Fi available to everyone, everywhere. The EFF will release firmware that will allow you to section off a portion of your bandwidth and make it publicly available. You will be able to choose how much bandwidth you want to give up through (smartphone optimised!) website.
So how is it possible that opening up your home Wi-Fi network can make you more secure? As EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo said to Wired:
"Your IP address is not your identity, and your identity is not your IP address," Cardozo said. "Open wireless makes mass surveillance and correlation of person with IP more difficult, and that's good for everyone. If everyone runs open Wi-Fi, there's no real argument that anyone is being negligent by doing so."
That may sound nice, but tell it to a man in Buffalo, NY whose home was raided by SWAT and arrested and accused of downloading thousands of images of child porn, which he did not do. The man didn't put a password on his new router and his neighbour was able to use it for his evil deeds. It took investigators three days to figure out he was innocent. The same thing happened to a man in Sarasota, FL back in 2009.
Theoretically, an easy-to-use public Wi-Fi network seems like a great idea, and could become something that we couldn't imagine not having in the future, but the issue comes down to how educated law enforcement is when it comes to issues regarding IP address ownership. If law enforcement agencies aren't fully aware of the intricacies of IP addresses, the issues that shouldn't arise from having an open router inevitably will, if your router is used for nefarious actions.
The EFF isn't the first to attempt to get people to open up their routers to make a public Wi-Fi network. Comcast has a similar plan in the works (which requires you to be an Xfinity subscriber to use the free Wi-Fi, of course), but the EFF's firmware is the first version that is open-sourced.
It's doubtful that open routers will become the norm any time soon. With a product like this, adoption is the key to success, and the key to a change in law enforcement procedures. Without a large number of people adopting open routers -- whether it be from firmware produced by the EFF or by Comcast -- the risk of accidental arrest still remains.