Recent concerns about the privacy of Wi-Fi networks have many Americans wondering how secure their internet traffic is. Although Congress amended the wiretap law to protect the privacy of everyone who relied on cellular phones rather than only corded telephones, they have not yet included Wi-Fi traffic. Password protected networks are likely safe from this potential threat, but open-networks may not be legally protected.
The decisive, long-term ruling on this is currently unclear because this type of technology was not considered in previous amendments to the federal wiretap statute. A class action lawsuit filed against Google ruled that although the networks were not specifically mentioned in the exclusions of the wiretap law, they should be protected even if they are not encrypted. This case is currently being appealed, so the final outcome may be changed. Future weeks will likely present further debate on this type of privacy issue.