Lagality of using unprotected wirelsss networks

Discussion in 'Wireless Networking' started by Seeker, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. Seeker

    Seeker Guest

    This is not an argument, but a discussion.

    A while back I asked a question concerning use of unprotected wireless
    networks from my desk at home. I was told it was illegal.

    I did not question it, until this weekend, when I became acutely aware
    that all over my city, in parks and playgrounds, along many streets,
    simply everywhere, there are people using laptops, connected via
    wireless. So I asked a random sample of 8 or 9 people how they were
    connected. All said they found unprotected networks everywhere in the
    city. I asked if they knew about the "illegality" of such use. They
    all said they were aware, but asked, as I do now, how would it be
    possible for people to do business while away from home or office, if
    such connections were unavailable?

    I think most individual net based businesses would simply collapse.

    The network I am using is available 24/7, with a far stronger signal
    than almost all the protected ones, and I have to believe that the
    person or entity which is the source of it is unconcerned about
    sharing their connection.

    I hope that the same MVP that responded will see this and respond. And
    of course any other feedback or discussion would be appreciated.

    Seeker, Aug 5, 2008
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  2. Seeker

    Lem Guest

    Not only is this off topic in this newsgroup, but it is foolish to seek
    legal advice from anyone who is not a lawyer who you are paying for such

    That said, there are numerous state and federal laws (in the US) as well
    as laws in other countries that make "unauthorized access" to a network
    illegal. See, for example,

    Computer Hacking and Unauthorized Access Laws

    What, you may say, is "unauthorized access" to an unencrypted wireless
    network? I don't know. Do you want to find out in court?

    Lem -- MS-MVP

    To the moon and back with 2K words of RAM and 36K words of ROM.
    Lem, Aug 5, 2008
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  3. Seeker

    Seeker Guest


    I don't see why it is off topic. This group is about wireless
    connectivity, isn't it?

    And the MVP who originally responded to my question had no problem
    giving legal advice without a license to do so.

    I see nothing in your response about using your laptop anywhere you
    happen to be. You can't really expect to find a signal from your
    office network while you are on the subway, can you? Are those people
    guilty of a crime?
    Seeker, Aug 5, 2008
  4. They are lazy idiots. Buy a Cell-Phone based Internet account or go to a
    "real" and "official" wireless hot spot where the place welcomes and "wants"
    people to use their facility.
    If a business collapes because its traveling employees could not steal from
    someone's unprotected wireless hot-spot then it *should* go out of business.
    The mouse always goes to the mouse trap with the jucyiest looking hunk of
    Totally irrelevant.
    The idiots might start to care if your virus infected laptop spreads the
    virus to the rest of their whole network,...everybody only seems to think
    about lost bandwidth,..they never seem to think about the other
    risks,...people are stupid.
    And the other side of the logic,....If you are driving 95mph in a 45mph zone
    and the other drivers don't appear to care about it because maybe they are
    doing it too,...the police shouldn't bother you?

    Phillip Windell

    The views expressed, are my own and not those of my employer, or Microsoft,
    or anyone else associated with me, including my cats.
    Phillip Windell, Aug 5, 2008
  5. Seeker

    Lem Guest

    See comments inline
    No. This newsgroup is for technical issues concerning Windows wireless
    networking, not wireless connectivity in general or non-technical
    issues. Notwithstanding that, I (and apparently also the original MVP
    to whom you refer) did give you a substantive response, unlike the "Post
    in the correct group, you dummy" trolls who live under the bridges here.
    Just because someone gives legal advice without being qualified to do so
    doesn't make it "right." As your mother may told you, "Just because
    your friend jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, that doesn't mean that you
    should jump also." If you want free legal advice, do it yourself by
    reading the relevant statutes at the links in my previous post.
    There *are* free public wifi networks. Some businesses run them (e.g.,
    Panera Bread) and some municipalities run them (e.g., Philadelphia).
    Just because you can't find a signal from your office network doesn't
    mean that you're entitled to free service from someone else.

    You might *assume* that with the easy availability of encryption for
    wireless networks, any owner of a wireless network who does not encrypt
    access to his network has impliedly authorized anyone to access it.
    That may sound reasonable to you. On the other hand, with the easy
    availability of locks, you might also assume than anyone who doesn't
    look his front door has impliedly authorized anyone to enter his house.
    How reasonable does that sound?

    The bottom line is that if you use someone's computer facilities
    (including a wireless network) without authorization, you probably are
    committing a crime. You may not care; I often exceed the speed limit
    while driving. With respect to wireless networks, the safest course of
    action is to assume that you are *not* authorized to use the network
    unless you have explicit evidence to the contrary (such as the statement
    "The Wireless Network Is Now Free" at

    Lem -- MS-MVP

    To the moon and back with 2K words of RAM and 36K words of ROM.
    Lem, Aug 5, 2008
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