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Using just any unsecured WiFi - stealing?

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  • User profile image
    davewill

    From http://channel9.msdn.com/Forums/Coffeehouse/Cant-connect-to-xbox-live-#c41a4094e8c8143dcab7da16400faa0c1

    , blowdart wrote

    Well for starters you're stealing someone else's network connection. Which makes any diagnostics useless.

    "stealing"?  The WiFi is configured as "unsecured".  Isn't that the same as stringing a bunch of 10baseT cables randomly out beyond your property line?  Would someone attaching to those 10baseT cables be "stealing"?

    No doubt "stealing" is not involved if the WiFi is "secured", even if that security is the simplest.

    The difference is that one indicates "no tresspassing" (secured) and the other does not.

    So is using an "unsecured" WiFi "stealing"?

  • User profile image
    Proton2

    I use Starbucks WiFi almost every day.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , davewill wrote

    From http://channel9.msdn.com/Forums/Coffeehouse/Cant-connect-to-xbox-live-#c41a4094e8c8143dcab7da16400faa0c1

    *snip*

    "stealing"?  The WiFi is configured as "unsecured".  Isn't that the same as stringing a bunch of 10baseT cables randomly out beyond your property line?  Would someone attaching to those 10baseT cables be "stealing"?

    No doubt "stealing" is not involved if the WiFi is "secured", even if that security is the simplest.

    The difference is that one indicates "no tresspassing" (secured) and the other does not.

    So is using an "unsecured" WiFi "stealing"?

     

    if the person or business who pays for the wifi connection is openly allowing use / giving you permission then no.

    but if they failed to secure the connection, did not give you permission and you know that you are using it then yes.

    the post you refer to the OP seems to know that they are using a service they did not pay for and it's from a nearby home - then yes they are stealing.

    I think a better way to look at it is like this, say a house has an open door, you walk in and attach an electric cord and run it over to your house and use the power.  that is also theft.  same thing.

    the "right" thing to do is go ask if you can use it, also tell them they should put a lock on it to stop others from taking the service w/o asking.

     

  • User profile image
    cbae

    @davewill: If you descramble satellite TV signals that happen to be transmitted onto your property, is that considered stealing? If so, then the concept of a property line pretty much goes out the window. The issue then is merely a matter of whether or not you have a right to take what was not offered to you. If you rode off with a bicycle that was sitting off the curb in front of somebody's house, you would be charged with theft. The fact that the property line ended at the sidewalk is immaterial in this case as well.

  • User profile image
    davewill

    @figuerres: @cbae: Regarding Property line ... I was trying to coorelate a wired scenario to the wireless scenario.  In the wireless scenario the radio is configured such that the wireless signal is capable of reaching beyond the owners controlled space.

  • User profile image
    wkempf

    https://openwireless.org/

    Some strongly feel it's not only not stealing, but what we all should be doing.

    I'm somewhere in the middle. If it's open, it's open. It's not stealing. Did someone just forget to secure it? Maybe, but that's not something I should have to verify. The fact it's open means it's open, sorry. On the other hand, this Open Wireless movement I think is crazy. I secure my WiFi at least partly because I don't want to pay for someone else's bandwidth.

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    It's not stealing, but it is illegal in the UK under the Computer Misuse Act 1990:

    (1) A person is guilty of an offence if—

    (a ) he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer;

    (b) the access he intends to secure is unauthorised; and

    (c) he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that is the case.

    There are also cases of it being used:

    In London, 2005, Gregory Straszkiewicz was the first person to be convicted of a related crime, "dishonestly obtaining an electronics communication service" . Local residents complained that he was repeatedly trying to gain access to residential networks with a laptop from a car. There was no evidence that he had any other criminal intent. He was fined £500 and given a 12-month conditional discharge.

    It's also illegal in Canada, and in the United States there are federal and state laws that make it illegal.

  • User profile image
    davewill

    @wkempf: Exactly. It isn't the smartest thing to hook up to a network that might cause you to catch something but it isn't "stealing".

    @evildictaitor: Goodness. Yet another bullet point to add to the avoid the EU at all costs list.

  • User profile image
    davewill

    , cbae wrote

    @davewill: If you descramble satellite TV signals that happen to be transmitted onto your property, is that considered stealing?

    *snip*

    The act of scrambling is the equivalent of securing the wireless signal so that would be stealing.

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    Huh? This is a UK law, not an EU-wide law. Or do you mean you live in a country without such a law? Because it's illegal in at least Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore, the UK and the US (both at federal and state level)

  • User profile image
    davewill

    , evildictait​or wrote

    *snip*

    United States there are federal and state laws that make it illegal.

    Oh my. If you have some links on that I would definitely be interested in reading that. I might just learn something new today.

  • User profile image
    evildictait​or

    , davewill wrote

    *snip*

    Oh my. If you have some links on that I would definitely be interested in reading that. I might just learn something new today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_piggybacking

    There are federal and state laws (in all 50 states) addressing the issue of unauthorized access to wireless networks The laws vary widely between states. Some criminalize the mere unauthorized access of a network, while others require monetary damages or intentional breaching of security features. The majority of state laws do not specify what is meant by "unauthorized access". 

     

    In St. Petersburg, 2005, Benjamin Smith III was arrested and charged with "unauthorized access to a computer network", a third-degree felony in the state of Florida, after using a resident's wireless network from a car parked outside.

    An Illinois man was arrested in January 2006 for piggybacking on a Wi-Fi network. David M. Kauchak was the first person to be charged with "remotely accessing another computer system" in Winnebago County. He had been accessing the Internet through a nonprofit agency's network from a car parked nearby and chatted with the police officer about it. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a fine of $250 and one year of court supervision.

    In Sparta, Michigan, 2007, Sam Peterson was arrested for checking his email each day using a café's wireless Internet access from a car parked nearby. A police officer became suspicious, stating, "I had a feeling a law was being broken, but I didn't know exactly what". The man explained what he was doing to the officer when asked, as he did not know that the act was illegal. The officer found a law against "unauthorized use of computer access", leading to an arrest and charges that could result in a five year felony and $10,000 fine. The cafe owner was not aware of the law, either. "I didn't know it was really illegal, either. If he would have come in [to the coffee shop] it would have been fine." They did not press charges, but he was eventually sentenced to a $400 fine and 40 hours of community service. This case was featured on the Colbert Report.

    In 2007, Palmer, Alaska, 21-year old Brian Tanner was charged with "theft of services" and had his laptop confiscated after accessing a gaming website at night from the parking lot outside the Palmer Public Library, as he was allowed to do during the day. He had been asked to leave the parking lot the night before by police, which he had started using because they had asked him not to use residential connections in the past. He was not ultimately charged with theft, but could still be charged with trespassing or not obeying a police order. The library director said that Tanner had not broken any rules, and local citizens criticized police for their actions.

  • User profile image
    davewill

    @evildictaitor: Wow. Just wow. Expressionless

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , davewill wrote

    @figuerres: @cbae: Regarding Property line ... I was trying to coorelate a wired scenario to the wireless scenario.  In the wireless scenario the radio is configured such that the wireless signal is capable of reaching beyond the owners controlled space.

    crossing the property line just adds trespass if you do so. it's the use of / taking something that you have no legal rights to. 

    also the possible side effects of the use.

    example:

    say joe has wifi and leave it open,  say bob uses it and some other person.

    later the police/fbi or other law enforcement find that joe's wifi was used in the commission of an electronic crime....

    now bob may be taken to court / arrested etc.... as he might be the one who committed the crime.

    a hassle and very embarrassing to say the least! even if you prove that you did not do the major crime you could still be found guilty of the taking of services!

    SO is it worth it to run the risk ??  not to me, I will pay for my own thank you!

     

  • User profile image
    davewill

    @figuerres: No doubt, joe and bob are both retards  Smiley lacked proper judgement but bob's use of an open wifi also a crime?

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    I'm not sure what type of answer you're looking for, legal one, a moral one, or a semantic one?

    Its possible your neighbor doesn't mind if people piggyback on his Internet access, so it would be the equivalent of him putting out some broken couch on the sidewalk for anyone to pick up whom wants it.

    But you don't know that, so its more of an equivalent to a fruit tree overhanging his property line, and that involves some sort of moral judgment. If it were a tree of a neighbor you don't know that lives a block away, if it were a neighbor next door that you know well, or a neighbor next door that you don't know very well, but the tree isn't overhanging the sidewalk, but rather into your property, and you pick it from your property. Same sort of moral judgment applies to Internet piggybacking. Overall the best ethic is to use your own wifi, but in some cases using others shouldn't be such a big issue.

    figuerres wrote

    I think a better way to look at it is like this, say a house has an open door, you walk in and attach an electric cord and run it over to your house and use the power.  that is also theft.  same thing.

    the "right" thing to do is go ask if you can use it, also tell them they should put a lock on it to stop others from taking the service w/o asking.

    Yes, but their electricity costs them money by the watt, while most IPs won't charge with bandwidth, you're also opening their door and stepping inside which they might consider a violation of their property, which you aren't doing with wifi. But still... when I'm in a public place and my cell phone isn't charged I often look for an outlet on the side of a commercial building to plug it in. Nobody cares.

    At any rate, there's also a wider definition of stealing which has no moral context to it. Consider expressions like "I stole a glimpse", "I stole the gift into the house," etc. which just means to take surreptitiously. 

  • User profile image
    davewill

    @brian.shapiro: legally was the original intent of the discussion.  It hadn't occurred to me that "stealing" could be taken in other contexts.  Nice read.

  • User profile image
    ryanb

    It's pretty black and white.  If you are using someone else's wireless connection (whether secure or insecure) without their knowledge and permission, than you are in the wrong both morally and, in most places, legally as well.  Even with the owner's permission you are still not in the clear.  Many large service providers, like Comcast, explicitly prohibit any sharing of the network connection in their terms of service.  Most service providers also do have bandwidth caps or variable cost plans.  Throw in liability concerns, risk of infections or data theft, etc., and it's just a bad idea.

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