An EFF attorney argues that network administrators should configure their networks so as not to be able to identified who aspecific individual was using an IP address on the network. This would prevent the universities from being able to turn over infringers to the RIAA when the RIAA “comes a-knockin'”.
There is a legitamate concern about following such advice, however. The one that stands out in my mind is that of being able to identified those users who engaged in some other destructive activity, such as releasing a virus or peforming some form of illegal hacking. Without the type of logging this attorney is arguing against, it would be far more difficult to identify who exactly was responsible. I have also heard, though I am unsure if it is true, that at least partial liability could rest with the provider, especially in a case like this, which could open the door to civil actions.
In truth, I have a difficult time understanding why someone would leave their network open, especially of the wireless category. It strikes me as far too easy for a person piggybacking off your access for a few minutes could easily pass along or perform some action and leave you holding the bag, while you have no idea who did it or when. While is why I was so amused in Narita airport when I saw the free Wireless Internet offer for those who don’t have their own PCs. It would be far too easy for someone to land, hop on a laptop, perform some action, and hop on to their next flight. There’s no request for logging in, the laptops are merely sitting there waiting to be used. Restricted, in some ways, of course, but I’m sure that wouldn’t stop someone really dedicated. Go figure.
Finally, I’ve heard a fair amount of outrage over the RIAA’s campaign to sue children and grandparents over copyright infringement. If you want to make a difference, though, you need to hit them where it hurts: in the pocket. That’s why, if you’re angry over the lawsuits, your best bet is to boycott these labels. Buy used music, or don’t buy any at all.