French internet users scared of falling victim to the country’s new controversial anti-filesharing law may have just been handed the easiest defence line ever. It’s all down to a group of hackers and the renegade wifi router firmware they have written.
The HADOPI law gives those accused of filesharing two warnings before banning them from using every ISP in France. It’s especially controversial as the original plan would have seen internet users banned without any form of trial.
HADOPI has had a bumpy ride to the statute books. In June it was blocked by the French Constitutional Council but as we reported recently, President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed on regardless.
The law is now due to be introduced with the addition of a five minute review from a judge before a user is blacklisted. Given the implications of denying someone their internet connection, five minutes is not exactly a long time to assess their guilt or innocence.
Now help may be at hand for those who fall victim to this tough law. French newspaper Le Monde reports that a group of hackers have written firmware for wifi routers that turns them into automatic network cracking machines. With the ‘HADOPI Router’ firmware installed, a router will detect every wifi network within range, cracking each one’s security. Once it can access a network it creates a connection without the network’s owner knowing. If the network’s password is changed it will automatically hop on to another network.
In short, it’s a wifi thief’s dream router and it’s being touted as the easiest way to beat the HADOPI law. The theory is that if someone is accused of illegal filesharing they can simply say “Someone must have been using a HADOPI Router and stealing my wifi”.
The “Stolen wifi” defence has been available before now as many people don’t bother to properly secure their connection. The counter argument until now has been “It’s your responsibility to keep your network secure”. With the HADOPI Router firmware in play, even those with secure networks have a defence when rightly or wrongly they are accused of illegal filesharing.
Only time will tell how the French courts will react to the argument when a HADOPI case gets its five minutes in court. It will also be interesting to see how far beyond France use of this firmware spreads. It could be the ultimate defence for suspected filesharers everywhere.