Comcast to Turn Customers Modems Into Quasi-Public Wi-Fi, Raises Legal Risks
June 10, 2013 8:02 PM
comment(s) - last by
Customers may have their homes raided if illegal content is downloaded on their connection
assisting with anti-piracy programs
throttling "overactive" users' cable internet connections
attacking customers' access to Netflix
, Inc.'s (
) streaming video service, Comcast Corp. (
) has received a fair amount of criticism in recent years. Now it's launching a nationwide effort that is either praise-worthy or diabolical depending on your perspective.
First piloted in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Northern Virginia, and the Greater Washington, DC metro area regions, the program turns customers' routers into quasi-public Wi-Fi access points.
While only open to subscribers, and requiring a password-authenticated connection, Comcast subscribers can now access a portion of their neighbor's bandwidth.
an Xfinity spokesperson:
Comcast’s newest Wireless Gateway broadcasts two Wi-Fi signals. By default, one is securely configured for the private use of the home subscriber. The second is a neighborhood 'xfinitywifi' network signal that can be shared. This creates an extension of the Xfinity Wi-Fi network and will allow visiting Xfinity Internet subscribers to sign in and connect using their own usernames and passwords.
Customers can opt out by refusing Comcast's special "Gateway" and buying their own cable modems/routers. Alarmingly, though, Comcast reportedly will not give any special warning (say a mailed noticed) to customers with its Gateways before turning their devices into public access points.
The feel-good message of the Comcast quasi-public WiFi bid is dampened by legal liability.
While the idea of universal access to Comcast (whose network is fairly ubiquitous due to the weakly competitive American internet market) is an appealing one, customers willing to give up a chunk of their bandwidth for the greater good may want to pause until more details emerge. So far it's unclear how Comcast is implementing the separate signals, and whether traffic will be logged as a single IP address.
In the past agencies like the
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
have shown a
proclivity to raid homes first and ask questions later
, when it comes to investigation of child pornography, hacking, or other computer crimes. As criminals often use public access points, this sounds like a nightmare for a homeowner.
Imagine someone connects to your network and downloads illegal materials. Now your IP address -- and by proxy your home -- have been linked to that investigation. While you may eventually be vindicated, it may take federal agents months after ripping through your house to realize it was not you but one of possibly hundreds of "guest" Comcast users (or someone with one of their passwords) who accessed the network.
Thus think twice before you accept Comcast's new "open" network.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
6/11/2013 12:30:11 AM
This is a great idea. But the AP should be mounted FOR FREE on the outside of the hotspots structure & what about the bandwidth? Will the affect the bandwidth of the internal wireless network?
"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
"Six Strikes" Copyright Alert System to Start Punishing Customers Next Week
February 25, 2013, 12:30 PM
Comcast Doesn't Want to Offer Netflix on Its Xfinity TV Service
March 9, 2012, 11:46 AM
Sprint Takes Fight Against AT&T/T-Mobile Merger to Washington
April 25, 2011, 12:21 PM
FCC to Investigate Comcast’s “Data Discrimination”
January 8, 2008, 8:49 PM
150M Android Apps Still Susceptible to Heartbleed
April 24, 2014, 12:48 PM
Amazon Prime Pantry Will Deliver 45 lbs of Groceries to Your Door for $5.99 S&H Fee
April 24, 2014, 10:10 AM
NSA Spying Won't Impact Huawei's Growth
April 23, 2014, 8:24 PM
Amazon, HBO Team up to Bring HBO Content to Prime Members
April 23, 2014, 11:36 AM
U.S. Wants to Reduce Tension Over Internet Net Neutrality
April 22, 2014, 2:07 PM
AT&T Announces Plans to Expand Ultra-Fast Fiber Internet Network to 100 Cities
April 22, 2014, 9:36 AM
Most Popular Articles
A Bug's Life: Female Cave Bugs Have Penises, Penetrate Males for Three Days
April 17, 2014, 7:20 PM
HTC Hires Former Samsung Marketing Chief Who Developed "Galaxy" Brand
April 18, 2014, 6:00 PM
NASA Finds "Habitable Zone" Planet Sized Similar to Earth
April 18, 2014, 3:13 PM
Dotcom Bomb: U.S. Case Against Megaupload is Crumbling
April 22, 2014, 6:00 PM
Thanks to Government Crackdown, Chinese "Porn Cop" Has Watched 600K Adult Videos
April 21, 2014, 12:00 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information