Wifi Liberator

Computers & Mobile
Wifi Liberator

Liberator Pic
Jonah Brucker-Cohen is one of my favorite artists, his latest – a tactical toolkit to liberate pay-per use wireless networks –

Wifi Liberator is an open-source toolkit for a laptop computer that enables its user to “liberate” pay-per-use wireless networks and create a free, open node that anyone can connect to for Internet access. The project is presented as a challenge to existing corporate or “locked” private wireless nodes to encourage the proliferation of free networks and connectivity across the planet. The project was inspired by the ongoing “battle” between providers broadcasting wireless signals in public spaces, in particular: corporate entities, wireless community groups, individual users, and proponents of open networks. Like my Wifi-Hog project, the Wifi-Liberator critically examines the tensions between providers trying to profit from the increasingly minimal costs associated with setting up a public network and casual users who simply want to see the Internet transform into another “public utility” and become as ubiquitous and free as the air we breath. The project targets pay-per-use wireless networks as often found in airports, other public terminals, hotels, global-chain coffee shops, and other public waiting points.

Wifi Liberator – [via] – Link.

30 thoughts on “Wifi Liberator

  1. mc@uga.edu says:

    How to open up your network to spammers anywhere!

  2. dglp says:

    This looks like a piggyback scheme where someone still has to pay for the initial connection. The description on coinoperated.net is not at all clear on that point.

  3. markhoekstra says:

    >This looks like a piggyback scheme where someone still has to pay for the initial connection. The description on coinoperated.net is not at all clear on that point.

    Indeed, it took me quite a while to figure out what was new here well next to the amazing language used: the Wifi-Liberator critically examines the tensions between providers trying to profit from the increasingly minimal costs associated with setting up a public network and casual users who simply want to see the Internet transform into another “public utility” and become as ubiquitous and free as the air we breath.

    This guy should become a copywriter :-) Next, imho the whole project is quite similar to, for instance, the stompbox featured in Make Vol.3. Only this time the ‘stompbox’ has two WLAN-interfaces instead of one next to a dial-up of some sort.

    The only thing different is that it (wants to) use Pingtunnel, a program which is capable of creating a tunnel with ICMP-packages. From the website:

    Setting: You’re on the go, and stumble across an open wireless network. The network gives you an IP address, but won’t let you send TCP or UDP packets out to the rest of the internet, for instance to check your mail. What to do? By chance, you discover that the network will allow you to ping any computer on the rest of the internet. With ptunnel, you can utilize this feature to check your mail, or do other things that require TCP.

    Now I’m not sure if that is a way to bypass paid networks or such. It doesn’t say anything about that and it doesn’t say anything about the other side of the tunnel which a liberator should have also.

    So it’s either, the liberator has to connect to a paid network on his own expense and give that bandwidth away. Or he should have a machine outside also to which he can tunnel…

    questions, questions, questions… next to the fact that there’s only one photoshopped image of ‘the product’ it looks to me like a rough idea. From that PoV the instructions puzzle me even more, cause normally you’d say that there is a working prototype of some sort and in this case, I highly doubt that. But what do you know, this is probably all considered art :D

  4. markhoekstra says:

    I’m sorry, I guess I have been a little hasty and a little negative here. It does say you need an outside machine as well. Next to that it really seems that pTunnel should work on paid networks to bypass them. I can’t wait to test pTunnel out :-)

  5. zephram says:

    Does anyone know which pay hotspots this will work with? I tried an Azure hotspot here in Oz, and it wouldn’t allow any traffic (ICMP or otherwise) except to the sites on its’ whitelist

  6. BradW says:

    The site says, “The project finds inspiration from the Open Source movement’s ability to turn once “commercial” software into freely available and distributable entities.” If Mr. Brucker-Cohen is out there building new free hotspots with his own time and money, then that’s an apt comparison.

    But since what he’s doing is buying a connection, then giving it away free to strangers, the more appropriate comparison is to the “Pirating Warez” movment.

    Even worse, anyone using this “liberated” connection is risking having their computer “liberated” as well — see http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9008399 .

  7. zephram says:

    Actually, I gather he’s not buying it either: He’s betting that these pay Hotspots allow ICMP traffic in and out without any type of pre-authentication.

  8. rdarlington says:

    This is a device designed for signal theft. Thanks to Senate Bill 655 being passed into law many years ago, this device would be illegal in Pennsylvania. This includes having instructions on how to make one as well as having the actual device.

    That being said, it may be immoral for a company to charge for services like wifi access, cable and satellite tv, cell phone service, etc, but it’s legal. Stealing service or using a device to blatantly let others steal service is illegal. I personally believe this is the greater of two evils. If you want internet service, then pay for it!

  9. Stokes says:

    There’s a difference between being nice and being moral. It would be nice if every place offered wifi for free, but it isn’t immoral for them not to.

    If the goal is to see free wifi everywhere, something like this may hurt more than it helps. Say there are two coffee shops, one with pay-to-use wireless and one that provides it for free. Naturally, people who want net access would go to the latter. The loss of business could encourage the first coffee shop to stop charging for their wifi. If people can get the pay-to-use wifi without paying, they have less of a reason to prefer one coffee shop over the other. If the number of customers doesn’t drop, the first coffee shop has no reason not to keep charging for the wifi access.

  10. 2Short says:

    This device makes it easy to steal wifi service. The creator seems to think this is a good idea, but his need to obscure the simple nature of the thing with high-falutin language makes me wonder how sure he is. If I want to “critically examine” the role of property rights in human society, I don’t do it by taking your wallet. If I want to encourage coffee shops to provide free wi-fi, I’ll stick to buying coffee at those that do.

  11. michaeljedelman says:

    Having grown up in the 60s, I know that whenever I read the word “liberate”, someone is about to rationalize stealing something from someone else ;-)

  12. hammerthumb says:

    Am I correct in thinking that since you need an interface somewhere in the Internet cloud, that means that the wifi owner can log the destination IP address of your ICMP packets?

    Seems easier to patronize a coffee shop that provides free access.

  13. rich.thomas says:

    I need a new laptop. You think this guy would mind if I liberated his? I would still let him use it occasionally. It is for a project to examine the ongoing battle of the role of privately-owned laptops in society, and to encourage the proliferation of liberated laptop use as free as the air we breathe.

    I am also going to try it at the airport, go up to some business guy and take his, for the good of the people. I mean its a minimal cost to him since his company bought it. I’m sure he will understand.

  14. o-tang says:

    That comparison is obviously flawed. “Stealing” wifi access in this manner would not cause any monetary loss to the owner of the service except in two cases: A) Loss of potential customers (which is unlikely, since the owner of such a device would hardly pay for the service if he had to) or B) decreasing bandwidth for other customers, which would only apply if the connection were already so heavily in use that most of the bandwidth was being used (which also seem unlikely). This technique apparently only use the ICMP protocol which seems to be allowed by the owners although it is being used in a way the owner probably didn’t anticipate. You could still argue that this would be using the wifi device in a manner that the owner don’t want you to use it and thus it would be wrong to do so even if it doesn’t really affect the owner in any noticeable way. In this case you have to weight the good vs. the bad while also considering all other options. If you think Internet access is essential and should be free for everyone you might think the greater good outweighs the potential negative effects in this case.

    However comparing this to stealing, say a laptop for example, is clearly not fair. The closest analogy I can think of myself would be downloading pirated music/video from the Internet, although that is also a complex problem in my opinion.

  15. techflat says:

    Hi there Phillip and everyone.

    I’ve been looking for some resources on the web on how to build wi-fi enabled devices. I mean I want to know how to build a devices that’s able to speak with the wi-fi router and get some information from the web.

    Do you know some places where I can start looking?
    Any help would be very appreciated…


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