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.
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