Got a Wi-Fi network? If someone, say Google or the government, sniffs your open network, you may think you're legally protected. Don't be so sure.
It remains unclear whether the law protects your unencrypted Wi-Fi from interception, because there are differing interpretations and lack of court precedent, Kevin Bankston, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology
, said in a session at Defcon yesterday.
The federal wiretap statute prohibits sniffing of contents of communications by a device unless the contents are readily accessible to the general public. If the network is password-protected you're fine. But under the definition of "readily accessible to the general public," unencrypted radio communications may not be covered, Bankston said.
Years ago, Congress amended the wiretap law to include protection for unencrypted cordless phone calls because millions of people were relying on them with the expectation of privacy. The courts have not yet issued a similar ruling for Wi-Fi traffic.