Comcast seems to be intent on solidifying their position as Worst Company in America (a title they somehow managed to beat Monsanto and Sea World for!). Not only is there a public uproar over their attempt to take over Time-Warner cable, but now, as TechCruch reports, Comcast plans to turn their customers’ homes into public wifi hotspots, by turning on that feature in their cable modems. It’s an ‘opt-out’ feature too, so many customers may not even be aware that this is happening.
Why does this matter? Maybe it doesn’t. I use a ‘guest network’ feature in my own wireless router, and I have no concerns about this providing a backdoor into my personal network. However, there are two things to consider. First, the electricity being used to provide this feature is being paid for by the homeowner (though it’s probably pretty minimal). Second, and more troubling, is what happens if someone on your public wifi hotspot uses that connection for illegal activity? It’ll be traced back to your IP address, and will be your mess to deal with. Your best case scenario there is that Comcast would have tracked the hotspot user’s MAC address and would be willing to provide you with an exceptional level of communication and support to help you defend yourself in court (good luck with that…).
I’m fortunate to live in a town not ‘serviced’ by Comcast…though with the way they’re growing, I fear it’s only a matter of time before they arrive.