Should the Wall of Sheep Be Illegal? A Debate Over Whether and How Open WiFi Sniffing Should Be Regulated

July 27, 2012 10:00 am

Prompted by the Google Street View WiFi sniffing scandal, the question of whether and how the law regulates interception of unencrypted wireless communications has become a hot topic in the courts, in the halls of the FCC, on Capitol Hill, and in the security community. Are open WiFi communications protected by federal wiretap law, unprotected, or some strange mix of the two? (Surprise: it may be the last one, so you'll want to come learn the line between what's probably illegal sniffing and what's probably not.)

More importantly, what *should* the law be? Should the privacy of those who use WiFi without encryption be protected by law, or would regulating open WiFi sniffing pose too great a danger to security research and wireless innovation, not to mention DEF CON traditions like the Wall of Sheep? Do we need to protect the sheep from the hackers, or the hackers from the law, or can we do both at the same time? Join legal expert Kevin Bankston and technical expert Matt Blaze as they square off in a debate to answer these questions, moderated by Jennifer Granick. (Surprise: the lawyer is the one arguing for regulation.)
Kevin Bankston, Senior Counsel & Director of Free Expression, Center for Democracy & Technology
Matt Blaze, Director, Distributed Systems lab at the University of Pennsylvania
Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
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