Is Your Wi-Fi Password Protected?

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Is Your Wi-Fi Password Protected?

Did you know that you could be arrested for child pornography by simply not protecting your Wi-Fi system?  A neighbor can tap into your home Wi-Fi and download or transmit kiddie porn and you may never know it, until the police are at your door.  Do you know how far your Wi-Fi system extends?  Do you know who is on it?  Run a simple test using a laptop and see how easy it is to connect to your household or office Wi-Fi.

Why is this important?  Law enforcement regularly monitors Internet traffic looking for child pornography images being sent or received.  Each image has a unique “has value” or electronic fingerprint.  The Federal Government maintains a library of known child pornography images and it is easy to identify one of those images if it is transmitted to or from a computer.  The first thing the authorities do is determine the IP address where the image was sent to or received from.  An IP address is a physical location associated with an Internet account.  For example, if you use Verizon or Comcast or other Internet provider, there is a record of your Internet terminal location with an actual latitude and longitude.  Law enforcement can get this information from the Internet provider.  If your system is not password protected, a neighbor can access child pornography from your terminal and you may never know it.  The problem is that the police may think you are the one viewing child porn in your home and show up with a search warrant or worse yet an arrest warrant.  This actually happened here in Sarasota recently.  A man on a boat at the marina downtown tapped into someone’s Wi-Fi and was using it without their knowledge.

As a Child Pornography lawyer handling all types of sex crimes I have reviewed search warrant affidavits and seen criminal cases where the police actually are unaware of the fact that someone else accessed the system.  This is particularly a problem where people live in close proximity to each other such as in a Condo or mobile home park.  Your neighbor two doors away could be viewing kiddie porn using your IP address and you may never know it.  Unless you protect yourself you could be arrested for a crime committed by someone else.  Be sure to take the time to password protect your system.  As a criminal defense lawyer handling Internet crimes I have used this as a defense when defending child pornography cases.  The police have to establish more than just a location, they have to prove who was actually accessing the child porn.  If all they can do is track it to a location, an IP address, they may not be able to prove who actually viewed or possessed the illegal images.  There are technical defenses to child porn cases and an experienced sex crime attorney who understands how computers and the Internet function may use this as a defense.

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