While some people are being sent to jail for using open WiFi connections, an ethicist for the NY Times Syndicate is saying there's nothing ethically wrong with piggybacking on an open WiFi connection, assuming you're not sucking up all the bandwidth. His point is that it's the responsibility of whoever owns the WiFi access point to secure it, if they don't want it used. He also points out that if you find an open connection, you should try to figure out who owns it to let them know it's open -- in case they want to cut it off. Of course, he leaves out the strongest argument for why there's nothing wrong with using free WiFi, assuming you're either on public property or your own property: those radio waves are no longer under the control of the access point owner once they drift off of his or her property. If those radio waves reach my property, then it's not "theft" any more than if your regular radio plays loud enough that I can hear it on my property. Update: Clarified that this ethicist is for the NYTimes Syndicate. It turns out that the NY Times' own ethicist wrote something similar two years ago.
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