Free WiFi has its detractors. Many warn of the security risks posed by unsecured networks and the access they provide to personal data. A WiFi network at a Planet Fitness posed an entirely different kind of threat, Sunday. The network, named “remote detonator” prompted an evacuation, and a visit from the FBI.
The Planet Fitness in Saginaw, Michigan, was evacuated while the bomb sniffing dog made a good sweep. The 24 hour gym was closed from 6 p.m. until about 9 p.m.
The network was first discovered by a patron who was looking for a good WiFi connection. That person alerted the manager, and the manager then called Saginaw Township Police.
Chief Donald Pussehl took the threat seriously. While the manager evacuated the building, the local police called in a Michigan State Police bomb-sniffing dog.
“If there’s any suspicion of any device or anything in the club that would require police attention, the protocol is they close the facility and contact police,” McCall Gosselin, a Planet Fitness spokesperson, said. “Safety is always first.”
Chief Pussehl agrees. When asked about legal repercussions for the poorly named WiFi network Pussehl was clear. There will be none.
“Everything is perfectly legal from a police standpoint,” the chief said. “There was no crime or threat. No call saying there was a bomb.”
The naming of WiFi networks is a matter of free speech. He even noted that in his neighborhood there is a network called “FBI surveillance van.”
This is hardly the first time WiFi network names have caused issues. In 2014, a network called “Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork,” wrecked travel plans for flyers at LAX.
In 2017, a plane made an emergency landing after a passenger named a network “bomb on board.”
In 2016, a flight was delayed after a prankster named a network “Samsung Galaxy Note 7.” Those were the phones that were banned from planes after their malfunctioning batteries caught fire or exploded.