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London Installing Largest Free Wifi Network

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  • Read the fine print (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @01:19AM (#38647594)

    Read the fine print when you agree to their terms of service.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Read the fine print when you agree to their terms of service.

      Yes, no doubt it says that if you are fucking stupid enough to use unsecured wi-fi to plot terrorist or civil disobedience measures intended to disrupt the Olympics, the police will be down on you like a ton of bricks as they will be monitoring what is going on.

      Like the use of CCTV cameras on public streets, I find it hard to think of this as a serious civil liberties question.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @01:26AM (#38647632)

    I'm guessing it won't be anonymous.

    • by stanlyb (1839382)
      Anonymous? With all these surveillance cams everywhere??? You joking?
      • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @01:39AM (#38647710) Homepage Journal
        They get your MAC, browsing habits, voice print and face - for free.
        • by c0lo (1497653)
          Noooo! Seriously? I can no longer change my MAC address or spoof one? Since when?
        • $5/mo VPS, cloned MAC, SSH tunnel.

          Not for everyday Joe, but I personally feel much better on every public network.

          • by DrXym (126579)
            I expect any public wifi network will be locked down so the only things you can do on it are browse the web and a few other well defined actions. Last thing they would want is people leeching bandwidth to download movies, voip, or anything else of that nature. So I bet VPN is one of the first things they disable. Unless you can tunnel a VPN over http you probably won't get far. Even then I expect they put bandwidth caps on http traffic to stop or at least disrupt people trying to do that.
            • by stanlyb (1839382)
              Under linux, making a tunnel through port 80 is just one command: socat ............
              • by DrXym (126579)
                It's not just a question of connecting to a port but fooling whatever transparent proxy sitting in between you and the server to think this is just ordinary http traffic of some kind. Therefore it needs to include the standard http request header / data and the server needs to respond similarly. There are apps like httptunnel which will tunnel over http but you still need a server sitting on the other side which is responsive to such requests and redirects them to the proper service, in this case VPN.

                Ther

      • Its brilliant budgeting of public tax dollars and a PR move all in one! The CCTV cameras are the hotspots.
    • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @01:31AM (#38647666)

      I'm guessing it won't be anonymous.

      I can't imagine how the identification would work.
      TFA

      In Westminster alone, it could be providing internet access to half a million tourists each day, 250,000 residents and 500,000 workers.

      Half a million of tourists - would they plan to ask for a "tourist id" for granting access?

      • by bbqsrc (1441981)
        It's called a MAC address.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Seriously, a MAC address?

          Hahahah.

          Like a Mac Address cannot be spoofed, cannot be varied, cannot be transferred through exchangeable USB WiFi sticks, or even through a hot spot that bridges to the MuWiFi.

        • by nzac (1822298) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @02:29AM (#38647990)

          Your mac address is as easy to set as you IP on Linux and unlike IP address on wifi you can pick whatever you like (though most are obviously fake).
          Take your pick:
          http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Changing_Your_MAC_Address/Linux [wikibooks.org]

          Its also pretty easy on any other *NIX

          Just windows does not come with a built in to do it.

          • by bbqsrc (1441981)
            The common tourist doesn't know how to change it. The common iPhone user doesn't know how to change it. I'd even say the common Android user doesn't know how to change it. All because it _can_ be changed doesn't mean it _will_ be changed.
            • by nzac (1822298)

              If you don't know it can be changed, chances are you have no need to change it.

              The people who don't know, don't care and probably have nothing to hide and give them selves away in many other ways.

              Unless you are paranoid the government its out everyone that is.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              The common tourist doesn't know how to change it. The common iPhone user doesn't know how to change it. I'd even say the common Android user doesn't know how to change it. All because it _can_ be changed doesn't mean it _will_ be changed.

              More to the point, it doesn't need to be changed.by most people. If you come to the UK and download child porn or instructions on how to make a suicide bomb kit over a public wifi service, I hope you get caught before your stupidity affects anyone else.

          • by jabelli (1144769)

            Just windows does not come with a built in to do it.

            Yes it does, it's called regedit.exe. That's no less built-in (and no more obscure) than "add[ing] a variable like [MACADDR=12:34:56:78:90:ab] to the ifcfg-eth0 or similar file."

            Anyway, most NIC drivers have an entry right on the "Advanced" tab of the NIC properties in Device Manager for entering a MAC override, either "Network Address" or "Locally Administered Address," which sets the appropriate registry entry.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              Yes it does, it's called regedit.exe.

              Yes, but that involves manually manipulating a text file, which is hard to do for most users, and if something goes wrong you could bollocks up your computer. Oh, wait...

        • It's called a MAC address

          Which is useless. I know nerd paranoia is cool and all, but law enforcement really can't do anything with a MAC address (I work for a company that does extensive digital forensics as related to criminal work). There's no giant "MAC Address Database" that links them to users, and even if there was the data wouldn't be useful as they can be spoofed. Typically this work is done via physical access to the hardware, or via a trojan that you somehow get onto the device.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        I can't imagine how the identification would work.

        MAC address, computer/browser fingerprinting or they can just sniff your e-mail/facebook/other login.

        Setting up a network of hostile access points would be the easiest thing in the world for a third party.

        • by c0lo (1497653)

          MAC address, computer/browser fingerprinting or they can just sniff your e-mail/facebook/other login.

          Setting up a network of hostile access points would be the easiest thing in the world for a third party.

          Tor network? Organized over some hundreds of points using the same free WiFi?

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            Https should be sufficient. Or just install a proxy at home and tunnel all your requests to it via ssh. I mean, ther's a shitload of options here.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Do you really think anything except DNS, HTTP and maybe POP3/IMAP will be allowed? They will block everything they possibly can, especially BitTorrent and Tor.

            Privacy from spying by other users will be an interesting problem. I best most people have never heard of Firesheep and will happily log on to Facebook without a moment's pause. A few years back I ran a free wifi hotspot and we logged all URLs (employer's request), and could easily have gathered hundreds of account details.

      • Wireless@SG (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @04:32AM (#38648504)

        In Westminster alone, it could be providing internet access to half a million tourists each day, 250,000 residents and 500,000 workers.

        Half a million of tourists - would they plan to ask for a "tourist id" for granting access?

        They should just ask Singapore how Singapore handles it.

        Wireless@SG works in most places I've tried it (Changi Airport, Orchid road). I get the code from the info booth at the airport, valid for 4 hours and wander around Singapore for a bit before my next flight. Handy for long stopovers. A beer in SG is expensive enough, doubly so in an airport (S$13 last time I was there).

        The simple way would be registration via an email address, get a code for Wireless@LON for 14 days. Beyond this, SMS codes. seeing as these are captive portals, you regester to have an access code SMS'ed to any UK phone (probably work for any EU phone).

      • by DrXym (126579)

        I can't imagine how the identification would work.

        There is no reliable way for the proposed amount of traffic and user profile (tourists). I expect the wifi will prompt users to agree to terms of service on first use and then track the MAC to measure the duration of their session. The terms of service screen could also issue a cookie to recognize returning users.

        The truly paranoid could counter these if they had to but I wonder why they would. If someone is that paranoid then maybe they shouldn't be using a free government funded wifi service in the fir

  • by spasm (79260) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @01:33AM (#38647674) Homepage

    I hope they keep it up afterwards. It'd be nice to be able to use google voice / skype / other VOIP solutions on my smartphone instead of paying obscene international roaming charges or screwing around jailbreaking and getting local sim cards.

    • by itsme1234 (199680)

      I was about to say that UK is one of the countries where 3G access (assuming no Olympics/megaoverload as you did) is really dirt cheap (at least compared to, well, everything else you can buy in London) but now I see, you are "one of those". Guess what, the providers are selling locked phones BECAUSE PEOPLE BUY THEM. There is another obvious alternative: JUST BUY A FREAKING UNLOCKED PHONE.
      UK also doesn't ask the SIMs to be tied to IDs or sold only to residents or any other nonsense; and many of them don't e

      • by spasm (79260)

        My work bought it. And stop shouting at me. :)

      • voip apps as well at any time by the way.
        Do you really think this? VOIP is a lot more like email than traditional phone service. So far none of the major email companies have gone belly up.

        That's the problem, it's so cheap and easy it seems like magical beans. The fact that it's accessible from anywhere (like email, not like mail, home phone, or roaming phones).

        I spoke to a city Councillor about getting them to put in the wiring for public internet access while they put it in for "Major Brand" phone p
    • by Djehuty3 (1371395)
      Just buy a £20 shitphone from Tesco - it'll usually come with £10 credit too.
      • by spasm (79260)

        True. But it's nice to be able to have one gadget not two (still need the calendar, contacts etc from the original phone - I'm usually in London for conferences or other work) and even nicer to be able to give people a number to reach you on before you're there.

  • T-Minus (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is going to blow up (in the funny sort of way) when someone downloads CP on this network or harasses some kid on FB. It'd be even crazier if they left it entirely unsecured and someone showed up with firesheep.

    Hillarity aside, this could actually drive home the point that an IP address != an identity.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @02:01AM (#38647848)

    T minus one week: Everyone scrambles to get the network up and running.

    T minus one hour: Large news event, hosted by the BBC, to throw the ceremonial comedically large switch.

    T minus zero: Network is live. Cheers occur.

    T plus one second: Twitchy, caffeine-addled basement dweller discovers this network will not enable him to download his 58PB of pirated anime porn every month like he thought* he would be able to.

    T plus one-point-five seconds: Blog post goes up.

    T plus two seconds: Echo chamber agrees, internet declares service to be utterly without merit, useless, and a direct affront to freedom because of this.

    T plus five seconds: Someone discovers someone else somewhere might be looking at them while they use the wireless network, immediate accusations of government spying start, numerous ill-informed references to Nineteen Eighty-Four permeate discussion.

    T plus five-point-five seconds: Blog post goes up.

    T plus six seconds: Echo chamber agrees, internet declares service to be utterly without merit, useless, and a direct affront to freedom because of this.

    T plus ten seconds: Cloistered, sheltered nerd sits in complete befuddlement, absolutely baffled as to why on earth anyone would have any objections to him hosting his array of torrents on this network, sucking down every last slice of bandwidth available.

    T plus ten-point-five seconds: Blog post goes up.

    T plus eleven seconds: Echo chamber agrees, internet declares service to be utterly without merit, useless, and a direct affront to freedom because of this.

    *: By which I mean "deluded himself into believing".

  • by jamesh (87723) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @02:07AM (#38647866)

    I read that as "Wifi Free" at first and thought the "wifi causes cancer" nutjobs had won...

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      I read that as "Wifi Free" at first and thought the "wifi causes cancer" nutjobs had won...

      But, but ... Wifi causes cancer! Or does it not ? ;-)

      • by jamesh (87723)

        I read that as "Wifi Free" at first and thought the "wifi causes cancer" nutjobs had won...

        But, but ... Wifi causes cancer! Or does it not ? ;-)

        Probably at about the same rate as breathing in and out causes cancer.

        • by Pieroxy (222434)

          I read that as "Wifi Free" at first and thought the "wifi causes cancer" nutjobs had won...

          But, but ... Wifi causes cancer! Or does it not ? ;-)

          Probably at about the same rate as breathing in and out causes cancer.

          Of course, but since you don't stop breathing while using Wifi, I'd argue it raises your risk of getting cancer !

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @02:20AM (#38647934)
    Assuming Raspberry Pi see production by then, have 100 Tor instances running for less than $3000(<quid2000)
    1 Rassbery=$25, 1 USB dongle [ebay.com]=$1.5

    Use it for whatever you like.

  • Boroughs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Malc (1751) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @02:51AM (#38648096)

    London's Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea districts

    They're "boroughs", not "districts". Jeeze.

    • by Suferick (2438038)
      Actually, if you want to be pedantic it's the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea,which IIRC are not hosting much in the way of competition during the Games (triathlon and beach volleyball apart). What about free wifi for Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Greenwich, which are closer to the action?
      • by m50d (797211)
        Nah, the city of Westminster covers most of what we think of as "London".
    • by Tuan121 (1715852)

      What is a jeeze?

  • by ddt (14627)

    "to allow visitors and residents to get more out of their stay ..."

    ... and to let the British government get the most out of sniffing their packets?

  • by jginspace (678908) <jginspace@yahoMOSCOWo.com minus city> on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @03:16AM (#38648200) Homepage Journal
    People who've invested their own time, money and effort into providing (and charging for) Wifi must be just thrilled that the council have given a private operator rights to erect equipment in public spaces right next to their premises that effectively kicks their product out of the market. Is the need for public Wifi that pressing that the council are being diverted from their normal duties like, you know, sweeping the streets?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates (198444)

      I was thinking the same thing.

      If any city in the US did this the carriers would be SCREAMING SOCIALISM!! ... and funding every politican and their brothers to ban and stop this assault on capitalism at all cost and probably then lobbying congress to add anti free WIFI in SOPA or something stupid.

      Maybe in Europe the governments there actually listen to their citizens and not corporate lobbiests and vote only on the behalf of corporations? I was just watching the Star Wars prequel tonight and the US and Canad

      • If you think the UK is free from the scourge of lobbyists, think again.

        They mostly rename it "PR" here, but that PR industry is worth around £7 billion per annum, and has its tentacles deep within the body politic, no matter which party you choose.

        You can be sure that someone, somewhere is getting fat on this - if not now then via promises of jobs in the future.

    • I was thinking the same thing and then realized it was the UK.

      If any city in the US did this the carriers would be SCREAMING SOCIALISM!! ... and funding every politican and their brothers to ban and stop this assault on freedom and capitalism at all cost while probably then lobbying congress to add anti free WIFI in SOPA or something stupid.

      Maybe in Europe the governments there actually listen to their citizens and not corporate lobbiests who vote only on the behalf of corporations? I was just watching the

      • by Shimbo (100005)

        I was thinking the same thing and then realized it was the UK.

        If any city in the US did this the carriers would be SCREAMING SOCIALISM!! ... and funding every politican and their brothers to ban and stop this assault on freedom and capitalism at all cost

        Which is odd because they are solidly conservative areas. I don't really see how a private company providing an advertising funded 'free' service counts as socialism anyway.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, just as the government drives out companies who want to charge for healthcare here. It's a good thing to keep the predators away. Most of the formerly charging wifi hotspots in coffee shops and the like have since become free anyway.

      Wifi is a public good; exactly the sort of thing a council should be doing.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      People who've invested their own time, money and effort into providing (and charging for) Wifi must be just thrilled that the council have given a private operator rights to erect equipment in public spaces right next to their premises that effectively kicks their product out of the market. Is the need for public Wifi that pressing that the council are being diverted from their normal duties like, you know, sweeping the streets?

      You mean you know someone who wasted money providing a paid for WiFi service that no-one wants.

      Should the local Council shut down the nearest Macca's because their free WiFi interferes with his flawed business model?

      Bollocks.

      I see Azure and Tomizone networks occasionally here in Oz, these ones are captive portals that ask for CC details, I have never used them, it's easier and faster to head down the street and find a Macca's, Subway or cafe with open wifi.

    • I hear you. Those tourists and athletes should be forced to purchase medical gases for breathing, too; by keeping the air clean and allowing just anyone to breathe it, the government poses a direct threat to existing industries as well as the free market.
    • by DaveGod (703167)

      Any examples of charged-for wifi in that location?

      All I can think of is a BT thing where they put wifi units in their public phone boxes and people who subscribe to their home broadband can also access that wifi when they're out and about.

      Otherwise, cafés, hotels etc typically have free wifi. Whilst in the early days this was a way to attract custom, these days it's a basic customer expectation. You don't gain custom from having wifi, you just lose custom if they can't get a good data signal while they

  • For how long will it keep working before a lack of maintenance makes it go dark?
  • Olympics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "in time for the London Olympics"... which takes place in the east of London, in Stratford, far from any of these boroughs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by trigpoint (1230530)

      "in time for the London Olympics"... which takes place in the east of London, in Stratford, far from any of these boroughs.

      Most of Londons hotels and resturants are in this area and this is where tourists will spend most of their time and money when not watching the events. Local businesses in East London will see very little tourist money.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is where the rich will spend their time.

      • Wait, you thought Olympics earnt cities money?

        Hahahahahahahaha. haha. ha!

        (speaking as a resident of Sydney, host of the 2000 "Best Olympics Ever", after which Sydney seems to have entered a malaise of government inactivity & decline)

    • by Builder (103701)

      Most insightful post here!

      The thing is that the people travelling to London for the Olympics won't want to stay in the hole that is stratford, so we're putting the WiFi where they actually will be.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      "in time for the London Olympics"... which takes place in the east of London, in Stratford, far from any of these boroughs.

      Most tourists aren't going to be staying in Stratford, and visiting the many and varied cultural highspots of Stratford though, are they?

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Tuesday January 10, 2012 @09:38AM (#38649940)
    The advertiser supported model was tried during the dot-com era and largely failed. Since there really is no such thing as free, I am guessing O2 is going to collect browsing habbits and information to resell to marketing companies in addition to advertisements. O2 might actually make more money by combining reselling user data and advertiser supported services.
  • If it's like any wifi access point that's been provided at any other large event I've been to, it's so overly congested or limited that it's worthless to use. Easier to just use the 3G or whatever service is available through the phone network (if that is even usable).

    The only saving grace I can see for it is if it's kept running after the crowds leave and gives some nice access to the residents of the area.
  • Unless you think the equipment to run the network, the cabling, the people to maintain it, electricity, etc cost nothing, it's not free.

    In this case, it's the taxpayers of London (possibly the UK) who are footing the bill for this "free" service.

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