Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/29/fon_network_disruption/

Fon VoIP network being disrupted by protest over Wi-Fi adverts

Users submerging routers to neutralise flaw

By Guy Kewney

Posted in Data Networking, 29th June 2007 09:55 GMT

Why are people "moving" their FON routers into the lake? It's because of a clever idea - or so it seemed: let people "earn" 15 minutes of free Internet time on the FON Wi-Fi network by watching adverts.

A FON user, Claudi, kicked off the protest on the FON discussion boards:

I just realized that fon allows 15 minutes of free surfing on my personal fonera without prior asking for my permission.

I found out that ANYONE can use those 15 minutes for anonymous surfing - when opening the free account any faked email address can be used. 15 minutes is a long time and nobody can control what an anonymous user is able to do in that time on my router. I do have safety concerns and do not agree to this and therefor moved my fonera virtually into a lake near Madrid: http://maps.fon.com/?lt=40.5423736000&ln=-3.78993988000&zm=14

I suggest that anyone else thinking that fon should NOT act that way moves her/his fonera there as well. You might want to change the address of your router location as well, an address like "Av.Padre Cipriano 25" in Madrid/Madrid/Spain workes fine for me.

The idea was born and discussed in the german speaking http://www.fonboard.de

I leave my fonera there until fon solves the safety issues - a VPN network routing all queries to fon might be a good starting point and is technically possible.

The "safety issues" appear to be primarily a concern for German users, because of strict Internet laws in that country, making the owner of an IP address responsible for anything transmitted from it.

The users are not actually dumping their Wi-Fi routers into the water. They are just disrupting the FON network by making them appear to be there.

The system is, apparently, wide open to abuse: the free 15 minutes are assigned to the apparent MAC (Media Access Controller) identity of the mobile device. It's not at all difficult to "spoof" a different MAC address and get another 15 minutes, completely anonymously.

FON's initial response was to close down the bulletin board thread, but it appears that during the night, this decision was reversed. It is now being described as "accidental" by employees of the network.

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