Scallywag

The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.

~ Jacques Yves Cousteau ~

Can Other People See Where You Go If You Use Wifi?

July 25th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 4 secs

Can others really see where you are when you use wifi?

If you want to know “Can other people see where you go if you use wifi?” you need to consider the worse case scenario. On the face of it, yes, it’s not hard to know you’ve been online. And using different wifi spots can be followed. Though I’m by no means a computer networking expert, my computer wise friends (who read those impossibility thick books on incomprehensible topics like PERL, PHP, and MYSQL, for kicks) tell me that regardless of how many layers of security you use, wifi is never totally secure.

But let me back up a bit, because it’s an ambiguous question. If you are wondering, “Can other people see where you go if you use wifi?” because you’re using a variety of wifi locations, then the issue isn’t wifi, it’s your laptop’s address code that can be easily tracked, as it stays the same wherever you go.

Then again, if you’re curious whether people can see your movements while using wifi in a building, that’s another story. If you are accessing wifi from a fixed point inside a dwelling, then getting a bead on your precise physical position isn’t possible. Unlike a cell phone, which can have its position triangulated from different towers, small-scale wifi relies on one single node. So no, people cannot see that you’ve just walked out from the bedroom to the bathroom in fluffy slippers, holding your laptop.

If you are confused by this tech speak, my apologies. But it is kind of relevant for everyone. In this day and age of declining privacy, knowing that you aren’t under surveillance is a big relief to some. Even if you think this doesn’t apply and you barely care less, your privacy is still a big issue.

Perhaps asking can other people see where you go if you use wifi? isn’t the first thing on your pursed lips. But you might appreciate knowing that you needn’t be paranoid about applying common technology. True, using public wifi isn’t secure for matters like banking and private information. But you have to remember that most of us are under greater scrutiny from security cameras than where we go to use a wifi network.

I used to think that only crooks needed to be concerned about increasing surveillance. But I now conclude that, like all things, a balance should be struck. Yes, scrutiny helps to deter people doing unscrupulous things. But spying on people for no good reason can easily be abused by people in power who lack a strong moral compass. It’s because of them that we might all be well to ask, “Can other people see where you go if you use wifi?” and “Can I get through my daily affairs without feeling I’m being watched by unaccountable people?” Because, if surveillance is unrestrained, we risk more than a decline in privacy. It also jeopardizes our personal freedom.

 

 

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