Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
7/7/2006
10:22 AM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
Commentary
50%
50%

FON Home? Just Say 'No Privacy'

I am just enough of a rebel to think FON has a really cool idea with its plan to sell a million WiFi routers for $5 and turn home DSL and broadband connections into a worldwide wireless network. But I'm not quite rebel enough to commit to being a Fonero myself. I'm bothered only a little bit by the criminality. But I'm bothered a lot more by the privacy problems.

I am just enough of a rebel to think FON has a really cool idea with its plan to sell a million WiFi routers for $5 and turn home DSL and broadband connections into a worldwide wireless network. But I'm not quite rebel enough to commit to being a Fonero myself. I'm bothered only a little bit by the criminality. But I'm bothered a lot more by the privacy problems.If you go to the FON Web site and check the map of access points you'll see what I mean. Put in your ZIP code and you'll get a list of the street addresses of Foneros in your neighborhood. I would prefer that FON do it more . . . anonymously, perhaps by showing unlabeled circles on the map.

(Apparently that might not be much of a help. A Spanish fonero has blogged his complaint that the map mislocates his router by a couple of miles.)

I don't like the address list for a couple of reasons: (1) it seems too much like just sticking a note up on my front door, "Burglars: Expensive Tech Toys Inside", and (2) it makes it easy for the cable and DSL companies to see exactly what their revenue loss is.

So far the cable and DSL companies have played the FON problem very low-key. But if FON does actually distribute a million routers, it's inevitable that the broadband providers will cut it off at the knees, once they figure out how to contain the PR damage of looking like greedy monopolists (oh, I forgot, they already look like greedy monopolists because of VoIP and 'Net neutrality, don't they? So what are they waiting for?)

There are other privacy issues, as well -- apparently, if you decide to open your FON router to the world -- or at least the Fonero membership -- you can exercise some control by looking at logs of who has connected, and blocking users who you think have abused your largesse. I don't know if this involves actual real-world names or just user handles, but again, much too public for my taste.

Until I hear different, I'm no picking up the FON.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.