whats known and unknown

Wi-Fi networks can be used for spying, but that doesn’t mean they should

on November 12, 2013


A kerfuffle has broken out in Seattle over whether the city’s police department is using its Wi-Fi network to spy on anyone with a smartphone. According to Seattle TV station KIRO, the SPD’s emergency services Wi-Fi network has the ability to identify any Wi-Fi device emitting a signal within range of one of its 160 wireless access points and record its location.

A controversy is brewing because of this revelation, but the reality is that any Wi-Fi network can do this. I’m an advocate for consumer privacy as much as the next guy, but in the world of wireless networking complete anonymity is simply a luxury we don’t have.


Wireless networks by definition don’t have the benefit of a dedicated wire through which to funnel traffic. Our devices are communicating among a miasma of signals, and in order for an access point to send the right data to the…

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