Ethicist Says Nothing Wrong With Using Free WiFi

from the not-your-problem dept

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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  1.  
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    MadJo (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 2:02am

    Bad analogy warning

    Those apples from the tree of my neighbour were hanging on my side of the fence.. so technically I wasn't stealing them, they were on my property, so they were mine.

     

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  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 2:17am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    That's different. With the apples, something tangible is then missing. That's not the case with radio waves.

    Also, in the case with the apples, some would argue that your analogy is correct. If the neighbor lets it grow onto your property... then it's yours.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 2:26am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    It's not radio waves being stolen it's bandwidth. That is both tangible and finite -- what bandwidth I take from you, you don't have any more.

    As for radio waves: the Supreme Court has ruled that no wiretap warrant is required (legally, not Bush-style) for police to sit just over your property line and listen to your cordless (NOT cellular) phone. Same would go, I guess, for your WiFi traffic.

    To me, the eavesdropper is much more a threat than the bandwidth-borrower. YMMV, but my WAP is WPA and not broadcasting SSID. :)

     

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    Mike (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 2:33am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    It's not radio waves being stolen it's bandwidth. That is both tangible and finite -- what bandwidth I take from you, you don't have any more.

    Tangible, no. Finite, yes. However, if the broadband connection is nowhere near being maxed out, the effective impact of someone using a small part of your bandwidth tends to be nil. So, the "loss" in most cases does not exist.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 3:08am

    I can see where...

    Something like the uninvited network guest illegally downloading things from the net, especially regularly, as 1) it'd take up a lot of bandwidth, and 2) the possibility of cops knockin on some old lady's door when it was the kid next door

    otherwise, I would say if somebody is using the neighbor's open wireless network to just check email and look up stuff on wikipedia, I'd think *nobody* would notice it, since pretty much the only people with wireless networks have broadband, and even on DSL, most people arent gonna be able to tell the difference from the 40k being taken up 2 seconds at a time every 20 or 40 seconds from their 256k dsl line...

     

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    JimK, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 3:12am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    If I left my hose laying out, is it OK for you to fill your pool with it? If not, why not? Since when it is the responsibility of the owner to prevent the thief from stealing?

    My connection isn't free. Neither should yours be.

     

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    Devon, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 3:39am

    This idiot is wrong...

    1 - the only reason that someone would steal signal from WiFi is because they are too cheap to pay an ISP which means that they are in fact stealing bandwidth and connectivity from the victim.

    To use a better analogy - if you picked up your cordless phone to dial out and some guy next door was yacking on it to his girlfriend because he had managed to tap into your cordless with his own handset - does that mean he's entitled to do it?

    Of course not - your phone, your service, your Bill...

    2. If people are really concerned about keeping their Wi-Fi away from intruders - don't broadcast the SID.

    You can't hack it if you can't see it.

     

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    Mike (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 3:51am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    If I left my hose laying out, is it OK for you to fill your pool with it? If not, why not? Since when it is the responsibility of the owner to prevent the thief from stealing?

    That would involve taking the hose off of your property, and also taking something from you that had a marginal cost (assuming you pay for water). That's not the case with WiFi and bandwidth.

     

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    Mike (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 3:53am

    Re: This idiot is wrong...

    the only reason that someone would steal signal from WiFi is because they are too cheap to pay an ISP which means that they are in fact stealing bandwidth and connectivity from the victim.

    If nothing is lost, how is it stealing?

    To use a better analogy - if you picked up your cordless phone to dial out and some guy next door was yacking on it to his girlfriend because he had managed to tap into your cordless with his own handset - does that mean he's entitled to do it?

    Huh? How is that the same situation? Each phone call has a marginal cost for most users. Also, if he's using your phone line it means you can't at the same time.

    Neither of these things apply with WiFi.

     

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    Ivan, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 3:54am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    Or getting more creative...how about if I smile at a pretty woman on the other side of the street. Am I guilty of stealing her heart ? (Probably not, especially in heavy traffic)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:17am

    Looking at the road instead of the car

    The air is not where the story ends. You are not talking to "the air" or "radio waves that noone owns". It ends up on SOMEONE's wireless router, that they PAID for, and travels on through their internet connection which again they PAID for. This is freeloading at minimum, downright theft of service IMO (access speed I'M paying for is no longer available when YOU are using -STEALING- it). The owner's inability or forgetfulness or whatever to secure his wireless network is irrelevant. It's most certainly not a giant welcome mat for anyone to help themselves to his bandwidth however they please. And.. if they just use a "little bit" of bandwidth (whatever that means), it's supposed to be okay? PUH-LEEZ If I leave the door open to my house with a basket full of candy just inside the door, I don't care if you come in and take them all, take just one, or only run your hands over them for the hell of it. The second you stepped on my property, you committed a crime (trespassing). Besides, many places have metered bandwidth, in which case every byte of data you send is costing someone else real money - which IS tangible last I checked. Not that anything has to be "tangible" to make it wrong or illegal in the first place... loud music, libel/slander causing lost business, farting in line at McDonald's, etc.

     

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    Mike (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:23am

    Re: Looking at the road instead of the car

    The second you stepped on my property, you committed a crime (trespassing).

    See, but the problem here is the opposite. You let your radio waves go on someone else's property. By your rationale, they could charge YOU with trespassing by not keeping your radio waves to yourself.

    Anyway, again, the candy example isn't the same because there's an actual loss there.

    That's not true in the case of WiFi.

     

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    zwxphtt, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:41am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    Ok, so I go down to the airport and hide in the hub of one of the plan's wheels and hitch a ride to Alaska. The plane was going there anyway. I didn't have to break into the plane and I hitched a free ride from a publicly available conveyance. How is that against the law? My Dad taught me, if it ain't yours leave it alone! that seems right to me!

     

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    Wolfger, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:45am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    The apple analogy is exactly correct. If my neighbor's tree hangs over into my yard, I have every legal right to pick those apples, or to even cut the offending limbs and branches right off.

    The closest analogy, though, is radio and TV. Nobody accuses me of stealing for using those signals that are being broadcast onto my property. Wifi is the same thing on a different frequency. If somebody broadcasts it to me, I will receive it whether I want to or not. So what's the harm in using it? None whatsoever.

     

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    Jeffrey Alan, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:46am

    Re: Looking at the road instead of the car

    So those people descrambling the microwaves that come down from the DirecTV or DISH satellites should have a great defense now right. The radio waves were on my property, I can do what I want with them? I don't think so.

     

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    Wolfger, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:51am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    The "hose analogy" is moronic (ever notice how the idiots tend to post anonymously?). It's not a matter of you leaving your hose laying out, it's a matter of you putting your hose into my yard and turning it on. My yard is getting flooded with your water. If you don't want me to use it, shut it off or keep it out of my yard.

    The number one misconception people have with this issue is that one intrudes on somebody else's property to use wireless signals. It just ain't so. The wireless device intrudes on my property with its signals. I can only use that which comes to me.

     

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    ConceptJunkie (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:56am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    A better analogy:

    If you leave your hose running in the middle of the street, can you fault someone who uses it rather than letting it run down the storm sewer?

    If you don't want to share, then don't give it away. It's not about stealing.

    People leave candy on their front steps when they aren't at home on Halloween. Is it stealing for kids to take the candy? How do you know it's there to be taken... there's no note and you are taking goods off of their property with no express permission?



     

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    Wolfger, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 4:59am

    Re: Looking at the road instead of the car

    Jeffrey Alan, you have an excellent point, but you are forgetting other laws in existance. If you descramble the signal, you are in violation of the DMCA if nothing else. Nobody here (I think) is saying it's okay to hack a secured wifi connection, or to descramble encrypted satellite TV signals.

    The problem at hand is that some folks want to say "don't use my wifi" without actually doing anything to keep their signals off my computer. With every single wifi router I've ever touched, security was one click of the mouse away. Can't be bothered to do that little? Well don't go making laws forcing me to not share my wireless. I leave my router open on purpose, because I LIKE to share. My parents taught me that sharing was nice.

     

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  19.  
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    IBM dood, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:00am

    WIFI WINOT?

    why not??


    1. Its on my property
    2. Its not secure
    3. If the guy doesn't know how to secure it, he will not know.

    What the hell, if there is any other computers on it, try to \ip-address and log-in with administrator and no password, maybe they have some goodies!




     

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  20.  
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    Dan, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:00am

    Music

    A very similar argument would be: If my neighbor turned up his stereo so that I could hear it, am I stealing his music? No, he is choosing to rebroadcast the music and there is no way that I can get in trouble for it. Now, if I illegaly tapped into his service by cracking his encryption or something, that would be totally different. Similar to breaking into the neighbors house to turn the stereo up so that I could hear it.

     

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  21.  
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    David Johnston, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:09am

    Ethical Use of Wi-Fi

    My Wi-Fi is open because others are welcome to use it. It is like leaving a basket of apples in the break room.

    Now, my network name is also my email address in case someone wants to ask.

     

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    Sam Alex, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:25am

    No different then cutting through someone's yard

    My analogy for using someone's open wifi connection for small tasks is no different then cutting a corner by walking through someone's front yard who doesn't have a fence. It's quite common in both the city and country to cut a corner by crossing through someone's yard given you don't mess anything up or do it all the time (as to not create a path per say). You are technically disallowing them from using that piece of the properly for which they own for the moment you are standing on it, but they're not using it at that moment anyway. Also turning around on a street by pulling into someone else's driveway and backing out.
    I see these as the exact same thing as using a bit of someone's wifi. Just as if someone doesn't want me to cut through their yard they'll put up a fence or sign, if they don't want me to use their wifi they can enable encryption. And likewise I'd never use someone's wifi connection to download torrents or anything just as I'd never pitch a tent in someone's yard.
    FWIW ---
    Sam

     

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  23.  
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    STEVE, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:25am

    Why wouldn't open WIFI be open.

    Were not talking about hacking into someone's encrypted WIFI, that would be (and is) illegal.

    We're talking about broadcasting a request for data from a WIFI card, and someone's Wireless AP filling the request.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the hardware manufactures.

    They should set-up new routers with a random encryption code, then stamp the code on the top of the router.

     

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    ChronoFish, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:29am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    If you watering system oversprays my yard, and I notice this and shut down that zone on my side, do I have to pay you for your water that you're overspraying on my yard?

    I think this is a great anaology. Finite resource which costs you money and I get a free ride legally/ethically. It's your lack of carrying/noticing that you are effectively watering my yard, and me noticing/taking advantage of the fact that you are doing so.

    I could be a nice guy and let you in on it, and you may decide that it's too much trouble to fine-tune your sprinkler system. Or I could do it until you figure out on your own that you're wasting water.

    But eitherway there is no obligation on my part not to take advantage of the water.

    -CF

     

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    Tim, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:30am

    It's theft of resources, simple

    Back in the 80s and 90s, one used to read of the "but they just left it lying around!" excuse for active attempts to crack into networks. That didn't wash.

    There's little one can reasonably expect anyone to do to stop the signal propagating beyond their walls (lead-lined bunkers count as "unreasonable"). What Mike seems not to be seeing is that whatever bandwidth the piggy-backer hogs is unavailable to the owner. It's entirely tangible, too - point iptraf or similar at your outgoing connection and see the bandwidth being used. That makes it theft of resources: when a finite quantity is used by another at the expense of the "provider"/owner.

    More pertinently, I would not call myself an ethicist unless I'd weighed-up all the pros & cons: so as a provider of free WiFi, you get to feel good that you've allowed some pauper to connect, and as said pauper you get free (to you) connectivity; however, you also introduce major security risks in both directions too: do you trust machines running on networks accesssible by free wifi connections? Should boxes on those networks trust you, as an intruder, not to launch viruses or UBE attacks through that connection?

    IMO, unless the free-wifi is set up with a license to permit connection ("copyleft"-style), the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, therefore it is a bad moral choice to leech off someone's insecure wifi.

     

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    Joe, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:38am

    Good debates all around...

    I just wanted to add my 2 cents.
    First, I think the apple tree analogy is good for unencrypted wifi in my yard.
    I also want to add that at least one law has been written to force property owners to protect themselves from possible intruders.
    Pool Laws: some counties or states, etc require that if you are in a non-rural area that you must have 6ft fence surrounding your 3ft+ deep pool and it must be locked. Failure to do so is your breaking the law should some trespasser come in and swim and drown in your pool.
    How does it fit in? Well, the best thing I can say is if you don't want to share your bandwidth then fence it. I do believe that there is a such thing as trespassing on my connection; however, if I am concerned then I should protect myself from that. I just don't want to see anylaws saying it is against the law to use an open network.

     

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    Scott, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:56am

    Hmm....

    So that means if I hack you box on my WiFi connections there is nothing wrong? After all you crossed back over onto my property to get out. Any hole I use that is publicly disclosed is your problem because you did not properly protect it.

    This is simple, if it is not yours, and you don't know if you are allowed to use it, do not. There is no grey area here. You can rationalize why you should be allowed to all day long, it is just more of the me, me, me I deserver whatever I can get attitude.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:57am

    Re: Looking at the road instead of the car

    See, but the problem here is the opposite.

    Wrong. The focus of discussion is intent. My radio waves, similar to my voice in public, were not directed to you specifically anymore than anyone else in the vacinity that may have heard. However, you actively sought out a wireless connection and fully intend to use my internet access without my permission.

    You let your radio waves go on someone else's property.

    If you know a way to prevent radio waves from going through the air, do tell. Otherwise, none of your arguments hold water. "If I can find a signal, I can use it." - that's rather simplistic and immature. You shouldn't need to be told that the access you are using is being paid for by someone else and you don't have permission to use it. I guess if someone wants something for free badly enough, he or she can spew any kind of nonsense to justify getting it. Why all the outlandish arguments? Is it really so necessary to justify or difficult to illustrate the fact that you using my internet connection without my permission is wrong? Do you think you deserve free internet access at Joe Random's expense? I noticed you didn't respond about metered bandwidth. What if every byte you send through my internet connection cost me $.00x, or if you used up my allocated time and prevented my access or my customer's access? Of course, you don't care right? As long as you get it for free? I mean, it's clearly my or my customer's fault for not securing it, and not your fault for using it. Discovering the security lapse (doubtful you'd report it of course) and securing it would at least force you to move along to the next unsecure access point in your quest for free access.

    Disregard for, or ignorance of, consequences not pertaining to oneself is the hallmark of adolescence. I guess some people haven't matured socially enough to recognize right from wrong when it isn't as simple as you-took-my-toy. That or they have watched The Matrix a dozen times too many.

     

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  29.  
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    MadJo (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:02am

    Re: This idiot is wrong...

    If nothing is lost, how is it stealing?
    Not everyone has unlimited bandwidth.

    Friends of mine only have an X amount of GB they can download/upload each 30 days. What if I took a portion of that, would that be considered stealing? Heck yes! I took a part of their available bandwidth, without paying for it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    If my neighbor's tree hangs over into my yard, I have every legal right to pick those apples, or to even cut the offending limbs and branches right off.

    And if you kill the tree in doing so? I mean, is it really so hard to just tell the neighbor about it? A lot less work if nothing else...

     

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    OperatorNo9, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:14am

    Re: This idiot is wrong...

    "1 - the only reason that someone would steal signal from WiFi is because they are too cheap to pay an ISP which means that they are in fact stealing bandwidth and connectivity from the victim."

    This is incredibly narrow minded, unimaginative and utterly concrete. So, inevitably, it is wrong. Allow me to disprove.

    I take my laptop to friends houses all the time. Most do not have wireless routers themselves but 90% of the time there is at least 1 unsecure network in range. If I weren't so concerned about the legal and ethical issues, I would jump on and check my email or the feeds. BTW, I pay $45/mo for cable internet service at home.

    Now, obviously I am not too cheap to pay for an ISP and I have a reason to "steal" signal. Barring the ethical/legal issues, the practical end result would be a negligible bandwidth drop for the provider of each unsecure network with almost blanket wireless coverage for me to the places I go most.

    I suppose you could argue that I am too cheap to by each and every one of my friends a wireless router, but then...that's just as ridiculous as your first statement.

     

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    Scott, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:26am

    Re: This idiot is wrong...

    "I suppose you could argue that I am too cheap to by each and every one of my friends a wireless router, but then...that's just as ridiculous as your first statement."

    Actually what it means is that you know your friends don't have wireless internet access, and you don't care. You knowingly go somewhere you can't use wireless and think you have a right to use someone elses. His arguement still stands.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:31am

    You're all missing one big point...

    ... and that is that network communications are ALWAYS two-way. Yes, an open WiFi does broadcast a signal out beyond property lines. However, by connecting to it, you are sending a signal back to the Access Point. You're all making the assumption that people are just downloading, but even just downloading email is a two way connection. You send a request to the email server, it replies by sending a message, you reply that you got the message and give me the next one. And so on, and so on until all email is downloaded.

    How about sending mail. If you are sending the latest joke video clip to 20 friends, you are utilizing the upload bandwidth - usually MUCH more restricted. I have 3 Mb DSL download, but my upload is capped at 384Kb and usually maxes out around 256Kb. Uploading a 4 Meg video clip will use 100% of my upload connection for a couple minutes, thus reducing the effectiveness of my download speed since I cannot send "got it" replies back to sending servers. This is an issue for me since I work from home over my companies VPN.

    Now, all that being said, I don't have an ethical problem using open WiFi. However, I do think there is a legal problem doing so and believe people should be careful.


    Yes, I have wireless. Yes, it's encrypted. No, I don't broadcast SSID.

     

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  34.  
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    Michael, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:44am

    No Subject Given

    Unbelievable.

    Mike has always been opinionated and biased, but never stupid. This, however, crosses the line. Using someone else's bandwidth is stealing.

    I hate using analogies because they're never accurate (look at what it did for you), but I liken that to parking in your neighbor's driveway and saying it isn't tresspassing because he wasn't using that part of it.

    It's his bandwidth on his connection made available via his access point. The fact that he didn't secure it is his fault, yes. The fact that you're using that to your advantage is yours, should be illegal, and makes you absolute scum, ethically speaking.

     

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  35.  
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    Scott Wilson, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:58am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    Home satellite TV technology would seem to fall under this analogy but the courts have proved repeatedly that even passively receiving their signal and using it is theft of their service. Wi-Fi goes a step further by proactively returning data to the server.

     

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    Rikko, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:26am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Mike has always been opinionated and biased, but never stupid. This, however, crosses the line. Using someone else's bandwidth is stealing.

    Legal precedent for such a broad, stupid statement?

     

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    Steve, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:34am

    OPEN = AVAILABLE

    When you configure you router to accect all connections you are making it available to everyone.

    Period.

    It seems alot of people are confusing signals and goods.

    Singals can not be stolen.

    Encrypted signals can not be decrypted without authorization.

    But were talking about publicly broadcasted unencrypted connections.




     

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    DV Henkel-Wallace, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:07am

    how about the opposite?

    I allow anyone to use my wireless connection....except that I block access to port 25. I also cache all jpegs and pngs, save all URLs, and don't take any special care not to purge something somebody else might have read through our SQUID cache.

    If they use my network don't I have the right to do these things? Ought I "notify" users somehow (how?)?

     

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    nobody, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:10am

    Re: OPEN = AVAILABLE

    Yes, the open air signals are available for reading if they come onto your property.
    However you have no right to send signals back through the neighbours device.

     

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    Scott, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:17am

    Re: OPEN = AVAILABLE

    Sorry don't think so, if you bash microsoft for leaving things open/on, then the same holds true for wireless access point vendors. No one is arguing about stealing signals, they are talking about stealing(sorry to all of the morally challenged, it should read misappropriating or infringing on) bandwidth.

     

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    Mike, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:19am

    Re: OPEN = AVAILABLE

    Yes, you can receive the signal all you want. It's when you start to REPLY to that signal that the problem arrises.


    To use the apple tree example that some of you are fond of, you can pick the apple, but when you start to water and fertilize the tree (hence "replying"), there is a legal issue.

     

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    Tim, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:25am

    Re: You're all missing one big point...

    > Now, all that being said, I don't have an ethical problem using open WiFi. However, I do think there is a legal problem doing so and believe people should be careful.

    What everyone's missing is that it depends on the open wifi network's owner's wishes. There's nothing wrong with open wifi, or even seeking to provide ISP facilities over wifi - see http://en.fon.com/ for example. However, I firmly believe that just because someone doesn't secure something it doesn't mean you're allowed to leech off it. Leaving car-keys in public does not entitle you to joy-ride a car. The default reading should be that use of a wifi network to which you're not entitled is theft of resources.

     

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  43.  
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    Chris Maresca, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:38am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Legally, that's simply not true. There are clear precendents for this in law and broadcast radio of all kinds has always been considered 'public'. Use of radio waves being broadcast is legal, period, end of story.

    There are two REAL issues regarding WiFi access:

    1. Does WiFi access constitute computer trespass per Title 18 U.S.C. 1030 (paragraph (a)(2)) which covers anyone who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access."? In other words, is accessing someone's WiFi router 'computer trespass', which is a felony.

    2. Is it even legal for you to re-broadcast your service? In many states it is illegal to have a "device, technology, [or] product . . used to provide the unauthorized . . . transmission of . . access to, or acquisition of a telecommunication service provided by a telecommunication service provider." (Maryland).

    So, it comes down to wether it's computer trespass of an illegal service...

    And nobody actually knows the answer, although the answer has nothing to do with loss of bandwidth or use airwaves. Also, both of those laws were written before WiFi even existed and there is little precendent. Some providers (such as Speakeasy) have TOS that explicitly specify what can and can't be done with WiFi connections. Anyway, it's likely that any case would be dropped as federal law requires a minimum of $5k of damages as a threshold for 'computer crime'.

    Here's a good article about it: http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/237

    Chris.

    Ref:
    http://news.com.com/FAQ+Wi-Fi+mooching+and+the+law/2100-7351_3-5778822.html
    http://www.securityfocus. com/columnists/237

     

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  44.  
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    Wise One, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 8:57am

    Re: No Subject Given

    1. You dont "authorize" if WIFI is open, there is no login or password involved, sometimes the computer just connects by itself.

    2. You are not rebroadcasting the signal, you are just using it, and its a public unlicensed signal.

    The fact is that its not illegal trespass, its legal because the person with the router is too lazy to read the graphical 4 step simple manual that came with the raouter.


    >>>Legally, that's simply not true. There are clear precendents for this in law and broadcast radio of all kinds has always been considered 'public'. Use of radio waves being broadcast is legal, period, end of story.
    There are two REAL issues regarding WiFi access:

    1. Does WiFi access constitute computer trespass per Title 18 U.S.C. 1030 (paragraph (a)(2)) which covers anyone who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access."? In other words, is accessing someone's WiFi router 'computer trespass', which is a felony.

    2. Is it even legal for you to re-broadcast your service? In many states it is illegal to have a "device, technology, [or] product . . used to provide the unauthorized . . . transmission of . . access to, or acquisition of a telecommunication service provided by a telecommunication service provider." (Maryland).

    So, it comes down to wether it's computer trespass of an illegal service...

    And nobody actually knows the answer, although the answer has nothing to do with loss of bandwidth or use airwaves. Also, both of those laws were written before WiFi even existed and there is little precendent. Some providers (such as Speakeasy) have TOS that explicitly specify what can and can't be done with WiFi connections. Anyway, it's likely that any case would be dropped as federal law requires a minimum of $5k of damages as a threshold for 'computer crime'.

    Here's a good article about it: http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/237

    Chris.

    Ref:
    http://news.com.com/FAQ+Wi-Fi+mooching+and+the+law/2100-7351_3-5778822.html
    http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/237

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:03am

    The proper analogy

    One of the things that should be said about open Wifi connections is the fact that the open access point actually invites a user to join. How, you might ask?

    Well, what you need to look at is that:
    1. SSID is being broadcast, to let people know that the access point is present.
    2. Encryption is off, which means that you don't require any special key to get in (although people who crack WPA/WEP are committing a crime IMO).

    Now, #1 and #2 above aren't enough, but don't forget about...

    3. The DHCP lease is freely given and connection made without client authentication.

    In other words, all three of those conditions would lead one to believe that the access point is open. To use an analogy with a neighbor's house, Wifi is some all-in-one home addition with the following characteristics.

    1. The house is publicly visible. This doesn't allow people to come in necessarily, since lots of houses are visible in public.
    2. The door is unlocked. This, again, doesn't allow people to come in necessarily.
    3. There is a big sign on the front saying "Please come in". Well, what am I supposed to assume at this point? Is this really any different than an open house done by a realtor?

    So, the problem boils down not to the person using the connection, but to the idiot router companies that allow it to be use. I believe that granting DHCP leases without authentication, in conjunction with SSID broadcast and lack of encryption, could justify one entering the network from a purely legal standpoint.

    Is it ethical? Probably not if you're using a material amount of bandwidth, but remember that you need to prove that you incurred damages if you're the "victim" of such activities. If you're using it to check your e-mail and browse a few websites, it'd be really hard to prove that you've been damaged.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:40am

    Re: Looking at the road instead of the car

    Not only that, if you play your stereo so that your neighbor can hear it, they can call the police on you (my last neighbor did it all the time). If you don't want people using your connection, it's your job to secure it. BTW, I leave mine open and I let my neighbors use my hose because their house doesn't have one.

     

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  47.  
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    foofdawg (profile), Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:57am

    Re: OPEN = AVAILABLE

    Except that I AM a bit tech savvy, and just helped my mother install a wireless network in her home. I opened up the Belkin box, inserted the CD as per the instructions, and walked through all the bits of setting up the router to the internet and her computer.

    Funnily enough, it never mentioned WEP or WPA encryption, or prompted me to setup a password for the router.

     

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  48.  
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    Mike, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 9:58am

    Re: The proper analogy

    3. There is a big sign on the front saying "Please come in". Well, what am I supposed to assume at this point? Is this really any different than an open house done by a realtor?


    The issue I have is that a DHCP lease is not an invitation as much as it is an agreement to provide you identification which can be used to access the network. Just because I get a driver's license from DMV (identification) doesn't mean they will allow me to go behind the desk (access). I think a better wording of your third point would be "There is a big sign on the front saying 'I won't stop you if you try to come in'".

     

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  49.  
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    Brian S, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:06am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    The thing that all the critics seem to forget in this supposed ethical dilemma is that the entire Internet model is based around the notion that if it is open, it is free. When you visit techdirt you don't have permission to access the site, permission is implied because the address responds to your browser's request. Imagine if I went to some major site with thousands of hits per day and they suddenly turned around and said that was unauthorized access, you're in violation of the law. That would never fly, because the onus of maintaining security is on the site owner. The reason everyone is in an uproar is because when we move this model to the home, a good portion of consumers don't know how to setup security. It is unfortunate for those individuals, however ignorance is never an excuse.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:06am

    Re: The proper analogy

    The issue I have is that a DHCP lease is not an invitation as much as it is an agreement to provide you identification which can be used to access the network.
    Well, DHCP is inviting you in. The client looks for the server and says "could I please have an IP address," followed by either "yes, you can have an IP address" or "no, I'm not letting you have one." In effect, it's like asking to come in to the house and being automatically invited into the house just for asking.

     

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  51.  
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    Scott, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:24am

    Re: The proper analogy

    Sweet, try that at your local bank. A lot of banks have open doors, you can see and get to the vault, and many times it is open. So why don't you wait until the guard is distracted, go in and look around. I bet they will all laugh and let you go on your merry little way. Cause the door was open, they put in a walkway to the vault and it wasn't locked.

    The DHCP arguement is lousy, it is wireless, which means it is most likely used in multiple locations, which usually have different subnets. This means that I would have to reset my IP depending on which location I am in without it on. But according to you, DHCP is not a convience factor it is a welcome mat.....

     

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  52.  
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    Dorian Cougias, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:33am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    Well, yours is the bad analogy, and not his. Legally, not only can you pick the apples, but you can also trim the tree if it is on your side of the fence.

     

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  53.  
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    MWA, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:41am

    Re: The proper analogy

    So am I breaking the law then, if my laptop is configured to automatically connect to the internet on any availalable connection, and without any further instruction or command from me it connects to an open router that is broadcasting it's unsecured signal?

    Now I understand that I may be connecting to someone else's open WIFI signal, but how many computer owners, laptops in particular, understand this. Are we now going to start arresting people for a crime they may not be aware they are committing?

    "...but officer when I go to Starbucks the interent just automatically works. I didn't tell it to steal the connection it just did it by itself..."

     

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  54.  
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    Daniel Barbalace, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:47am

    The Real Issue: Public and Private Goods

    No analogy will do this situation justice because kindergarten concepts of right and wrong only apply to simple, physical resources like apple trees and hoses.

    What we are dealing with in the 20th/21st centuries is a whole new idea of ownership. We now own intangible things like intellectual property, digital rights, and options. Stealing has always been considered an evil, not because you were getting something you didn't pay for, but because you were depriving someone else of a possession. That kind of logic does not apply to the realm of information.

    To illustrate... You and I both have one apple each. I give you my apple and you give me your apple. How many apples do you have? How many do I have? The answer to both questions: 1. Now let's say you and I both have an idea. I give you my idea and you give me yours. Now how many ideas do you have? How many do I have? The answer to both: 2. For physical goods, 1 + 1 - 1 = 1. For digital goods, 1 + 1 - 1 = 2. Not the same thing.

    To put it simply, we as a society need to and are in the process of creating new definitions of what is stealing. Unfortunately, most people discussing this issue are just trying to push whatever social agenda helps them economically, rather than thinking and discussing the issue from a neutral, third party point of view.

    As to the issue of WiFi, the crux of the problem is the inability of society to properly separate public goods and private goods. WiFi is based on the electromagnetic spectrum. Is the EMS something that you create? Is it something that your ISP create? No. Man did not create the EMS. It is a naturally occurring resource, and as such, it should be treated as a public good, not a private good.

    The theory behind the Federal Communications Commission, before it became utterly evil, was that since the EMS is a public good, a government agency should be created for the sole purpose of ensuring that the EMS is most efficiently used and is available for the benefit of the entire public regardless of political, economic, or social status.

    Although the FCC fails to do this because it's too busy trying to censor content, the principle itself is good. The WiFi spectrum, which is just a small subset of the EMS, should be a public good.

    As a public good, the best use of this resource is to create a nation-wide public WiFi system. An "information highway system" if you will. Such a system would generate the most bang for the public at the smallest cost since no money is lost to marketing, business waste, and corporate profits.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that ISPs and other companies should make lots of profits for providing private resources and services. I just don't think that a company should make money by selling public goods, which is essentially the situation we have right now. That would be like a private company selling pieces of Yellowstone National Park as timeshares.

    The key point is that public goods should be owned, controlled, and used by the public whereas private goods can be bought, sold, and rented by companies and individuals.

    All of the disagreements presented in this thread are fundamentally a disagreement over whether or not radio waves that propagate through your residence are public or private goods.

    I would suggest that it is in society's best long term interest to consider all naturally occurring phenomenons to be a public good.

    Now before someone jumps to a wrong conclusion... I'm talking about the EMS spectrum, not the actual data being transmitted. Just because you ftp a file over a WiFi link doesn't make the file a public good any more than driving your car on a public highway makes your car a public good.

     

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  55.  
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    Jeff, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:58am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    Hiding SSIDs does nothing for making WiFi secure.
    http://www.tisc-insight.com/newsletters/416.html

     

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  56.  
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    marcos, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 11:08am

    Re: You're all missing one big point...

    That was the point I was waiting to be made. The signal is yes trespassing on to your property so why not do with it what you want. But by that same rational your signal is then trespassing on their proberty going back to the access point. I will agree it's the endusers responsibility to secure their netowrk, but saying the signal came to my house I will do what please doesn't hold water. Do with it what you please on your property, not sending anoher signal back.

     

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  57.  
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    Bryan, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 11:13am

    No Subject Given

    What about the lost bandwidth of having a secured wifi router? Also the work to establish a secured router? I dont think these have been mentioned yet, however they are very much an issue.

     

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  58.  
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    J., Feb 27th, 2006 @ 11:49am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    If you left your hose running, and it happend to be laying in my yard, you bet I will fill my pool with it. If you dont want me using your water, turn it off, and doing pour it on my property.

     

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  59.  
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    Robert, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    I have to routers connected one is locked down(for my network) the other is wide open. I live in a condo complex and there are open networks everywhere! som intentionally and some not. People need more education on the routers they purchase. But back to the point. Stealing is stealing no matter what it is. But if you are not smart enough to secure your router, that probably means your car doors are unlocked and your an idiot!

     

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  60.  
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    Brenda S., Feb 27th, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    Brian has a good point.
    First of all, some people leave their WiFi insecured to allow others open free access.
    With the general internet being that if it is open, it's free. I and others are only to assume that if it's open, it's an invitation to use it.

    Besides, as another post points out. My computer requests access to the network. If the router approves the access by providing me an IP that is in fact an invitation.

    Ok, so if a person has an open WiFi, and their router accepts a request from my computer and assigns me an IP, I HAVE to assume that the person is offering the WiFi for free.
    I mean there are so many different ways of preventing me from using someone's WiFi, setting static IP routing, all the different encryptions, and the simplest of all of not broadcasting the SSID.

    Oh and yes I have a Cable connection with WiFi where I live, and have encrypted WiFi, with a subnet to another router with Open WiFi.

     

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  61.  
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    jdw242, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 1:02pm

    Re: The proper analogy

    Sadly, Windows is configured to do just that; Wireless Zero will attempt connections to the strongest signal, and attempt to acquire an IP address.
    When the user isn't capable of understanding why it 'just works' it's not realistic to blame them for not knowing, or previously learning the technology.
    What I find is that they know it works, not how, and that's good enough for them.

     

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  62.  
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    Mike Smith, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 1:21pm

    Re: You're all missing one big point...

    AHHHHHH! Here it is plain and simple. Leaving my WIFI router open is the same as encrypting it and giving the password to all my neighbors and posting it on my house. The problem with this is no one is willing to take responsiblility for locking down their router. Lock it down and no one can use it!

     

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  63.  
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    Jobe, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    What if the apples drop onto your yard.

     

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  64.  
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    Greg Andrew, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    People have been putting up satellite dishes and receiving free signals for decades. There's nothing illegal about it. Only if you illegally unscramble signals are you doing something wrong. If unencoded signals reach your property, it's your right to do with them as you wil.

     

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  65.  
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    Chris Maresca, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 2:06pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    The fact that there is no password makes no difference in the eyes of the law, unfortunetaly. The statute does not specify a level of difficulty of access, just access.

    No.2 was addressing those with PROVIDING WiFi connections.

    Most of the people on this thread are using analogies. Analogies don't work in court. The law clearly states that 'computer trespass' is illegal. Wether or not accessing a WiFi router constitutes computer trespass is largely a matter of interpretation, and the courts have not, er, 'interpreted' this for us yet, so it's all conjecture...

    That's what I was trying to point out. And that fact that most people are not discussing the actual law, but some vague notion of 'bandwidth stealing'.

    Chris.

     

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  66.  
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    Mike, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    You know, I see a lot of "but if my computer does it automatically, is it my fault?" questions. The answer is YES! How many of us have heard the oft repeated phrase "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

    While using an open WiFi spot without permission is not illegal everywhere, it is illegal in some spots (Florida, I believe, is one state). The fact that the task of configuring your laptop to NOT connect to that open access point automatically is difficult does not absolve you of the requirement to follow the law.

     

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  67.  
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    Bean Waxler, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    To intercept a bandwidth connection may not be theft...

    But it is only useful if you transmit information back to the unit (You have to send in order to recieve). Sending information into a private network and then instructing it to send you information is in fact theft.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Hero, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 6:56pm

    Agendas

    There are some people who in reality do not like the idea of other people freely sharing WiFi connections for a variety of reasons. Some may be network provider industry shills who see free WiFi as a threat to their business models. Others may not like the freedom granted by anonymous communications. However, rather expose their true agenda they try to frame WiFi sharing as "stealing" in an effort to generate support for their campaign to wipe it out.

     

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  69.  
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    Scott, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 6:27am

    Re: Agendas

    Yep, uh-huh, that's it. It has nothing to do with the fact that my when my router reboots from a power outage that it sometimes resets to factory defaults of wide open. Then I find some arse on my wireless, doing god knows what, getting the cops and RIAA to finger my IP most likely, nothing to do with staying of MY access point.

     

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  70.  
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    Ken, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 8:50am

    Stealing?

    In response to whether or not it is kosher to steal net access from someone, what is not clear here.

    Most WiFi manufacturers ship their equipment configured to work with basic services right from the box for the convienence of their customer. And because their customer wants the benefits of wireless but is not a LAN engineer does not set aside the theft performed by someone outside the system. If this was so, then if the intruder could break the encryption, it would be alright for them to use it also. (Ask the government how they feel about individuals "jumpin in" on their systems.)

    The bottom line is personality. If it is not yours and you take it or use it, THIS IS STEALING. It seems that in today's society it is okay for some people to put aside their personal ethics, morals, and values if it can be blamed on someone else. This has been tried many times over the years and still does not pass muster. Examples of this are; Blaming the bartender because a drunk is a drunk, blaming the gun manufacturer because someone got shot, or blaming the teacher because the student is unruly and undisciplined.

    There is only one way to keep your personal values straight and true. If you did it - it is your fault and if it is not yours - IT IS NOT YOURS!

     

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  71.  
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    Brian S, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 9:36am

    Re: No Subject Given

    Chris,
    The law varies by state. NY for instance has a provision basically saying that if a network is open its fair game unless you cause some sort of damage to data. FL is more archaic, and even surfing the Internet drops you into the category of computer trespass.
    IMHO, you can't have one standard set of rules applying to Internet traffic and then another applying to WiFi access, which is just an extension to the Internet. What no critic can seem to address for me is why WiFi deserves special protection. If you think it shouldn't be legal to hop on an open access point, then why should it be legal to access any website without calling the company for permission?
    People are extremely overprotective when it comes to property rights, but every website they visit daily is either some one's/company's private property or a rented property. And yet no one has ever questioned the legality of accessing an open website. In both cases we are talking about "theft" or usage of services that you didn't pay for.
    One simple explanation is that there is a dissociative element to the Internet, most of the time we don't see the Web Servers, the DNS servers, etc, so we can't conceptualize either how huge everything is or that the Internet is a congolomoration of privately held elements. Once the Internet entered the home with WiFi and broadband, the ownership aspect became abundantly clear. Your average home owner suddenly had a little piece of the Internet with a box that sits in the corner and blinks a lot. But what seems to be a little unclear to many of these homeowners is that being part of the Internet entails new responsibilites. And instead of maintaining these responsibilies they want to say that the rules formed over the last decade suddenly don't apply to them.

     

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  72.  
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    Alan, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 11:10am

    Re: Bad analogy warning

    "It's not radio waves being stolen it's bandwidth. That is both tangible and finite -- what bandwidth I take from you, you don't have any more..."
    Nothing's been stolen, since it was propagated (no pun intended) for the sole purpose of allowing anyone to use it. I make that assumption, since the owner of the wireless router could have enabled a password to restrict access, but didnít.
    We can make all the foolish analogies to meaningless open-door scenarios, but the bottom line is that if I connect to an unsecured wireless LAN system that is broadcasting (advertising) a system ID (SSID), I am an invited guest (I can make myself an UNWELCOME guest by doing some anti-social things after Iím connected, but thatís a different issue).
    However, if I defeat ANY password scheme (regardless of how inherently secure the technology used), I am clearly an intruder.

     

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  73.  
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    Scott, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 11:18am

    Re: No Subject Given

    I am not part of the internet because I have a router that connects to the internet, keep fishing. BankOne's internal network is not part of the internet, but it is connected to the internet, replace BankOne with any number of Corporations and you get the point.

    My driveway connects me to the city/state road on which I live, this does not make my driveway part of the highway.

    The difference for the ethically challenged individual is that, my router is not on the internet, my modem is, my router connects me to my modem, which in turn connects me to the internet.

    Accessing a web site is in no way akin to connecting to an access point.

     

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  74.  
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    resigned, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 12:06pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Yeah, yeah, not part of the internet. You do realize that internet is short for 'interconnected networks', don't you? That is EXACTLY what your router is on, the internet.

     

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  75.  
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    Brian S, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 7:28pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    "Accessing a web site is in no way akin to connecting to an access point."

    How so? In both cases no permission is explicity given and in both cases you are using resources which are presumably not yours. Why do you think you have a right to access any website but not an open access point? Someone come up with a rational explanation of that and I will be humbled.

    "I am not part of the internet because I have a router that connects to the internet, keep fishing. BankOne's internal network is not part of the internet, but it is connected to the internet, replace BankOne with any number of Corporations and you get the point."

    Any device that is connected to the Internet is inherently part of the Internet. Do you really think that all those websites out there don't have firewalls/routers too? In most cases they are setup to block all traffic except port 80 traffic. So if we are going by your definition, that means that an overwhelming large majority of web servers are not on the Internet and that you are gaining "illegal" access to them.

     

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  76.  
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    Scott, Mar 1st, 2006 @ 1:06pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I set no definition, I set a distinction. What I said, and try to keep up here: I am not part of the internet simply because I have a router, connected to a cable modem, which by definition is connected to the internet. Here is the tricky part if you don't like right and wrong, my router creates a private network connected to the internet, it is NOT part of the internet by any stretch of the imagination. A web server is by definition meant to serve something, usually a web page or service, do you see the difference? I don't have a wireless access server, you can't just walk into a place and plug into their ethernet switch can you?
    By what you just said, if I scan a network and connect to it trying to find something I have access to and find something else that is open and unlocked, do I get access to it? That is exactly what the wireless network connection apps do, they scan for something open and try to connect to it.

     

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  77.  
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    Remote Support Software, Jun 1st, 2006 @ 8:10pm

    WiFi

    It's the resposibility of the wireless access point owner to secure it. i think anyone who is need of a wireless connection for something really important would pull into a residential area and hitch a short ride to the internet - even those who think it's wrong. Take for example your driving to some destination and you think you have or were given the right directions - but your lost. You can't reach the person whom your meeting but need to find where you need to go. Ah! You have your laptop with you and you think if I could catch an internet conenction I could get directions from your favorite online maps and driving direction sites. What would anyone do but go ahead and catch a wireless link and get the job done. Anyone who says they would just call their wife or girlfriend is lying. It's harmless temporary use of a network. For remote support of computers over the Internet try these site links.
  78. PC Remote Control Over the Web
  79. Remote Desktop Support Software
  80. Remote Computer Access
  81. PC Remote Support

 

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    identicon
    Yon, Jun 1st, 2006 @ 8:16pm

    WiFi

    I certainly will not call my wife (or girlfriend)...I would not hear the end of it. You married guys no what I'm talking about.

    I jumped on networks before for directions too. There's no harm in getting some temporary internet access.

     

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    2cents, Jun 1st, 2006 @ 8:19pm

    WiFi

    I've done it too. The real bad guys are the people who use someone elses networks everyday. Instead of paying for their own they leach off of the office next door or a neighbor's access.

     

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    Leif Harmsen, Oct 3rd, 2006 @ 11:35am

    Make it Public

    All of these arguments and cunnundrums are excellent evidence that the capitalist approach to internet distribution is a failure. $45/mo is an example of what one person is paying. Putting in and maintaining a public mesh network on existing lamp posts is cheaper than putting in and maintaining speed bumps on any one street - certainly much cheaper than installing the street lamps themselves. Bandwidth would be massively improved and coverage would be universal. The digital divide would be closed and you could ditch your commercial mobile phones and get wifi VOIP phones instead. Your commercial ISP does not own the internet, and therefore by capitalist logic is not only stealing it but selling it on for profit - they're selling us the proverbial Brooklyln bridge. While the manufacture of hardware is a natural for capitalism, the owning and maintaining of a network, which is of more use when everyone is on it, is a natural for municipal ownership, same as street lamps or sidewalks. That solves all of the above problems, because you can't steal the internet any more than you can steal light from a street lamp. When you interact with the internet, you add to it and make it more valuable, you don't "use it up". Sci Fi? Fredrickton New Brunswick has already done it, as have many community initiatives. The big telecoms are so greedy they've lobbied governments to make it illegal for municipalities to provide wifi to their constituents, and in some states (least educated, most Republican) they have been successful, which is flagrantly unethical.

     

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    Scorpio, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 4:08pm

    Re: This idiot is wrong...

    how can you block your sid on the wireless router? and how can you tell if someone is using your router to get online? any idea or help would be great

     

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    WiFi Security, Mar 4th, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    It's Unethical but You're Stupid If You Don't Secu

    Bottom line: It's unethical. I just read an article comparing it to someone leaving the front door of their house open and you walk in and take their TV - it's not right no matter how you argue it. BUT, they were stupid for leaving it open. With it being so easy to secure your WiFi network, there is really no excuse and you're just plain stupid if you don't. Sooner or later, you ARE going to have someone leech off your network if you don't secure it.

     

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    Daniel Dollive, Mar 6th, 2007 @ 9:29am

    the truth folks.

    Hallo, ima delphi develloper as well as system enginieer.. i would like to shed alittle light on your topic of intrest about wifi... I have noted resently that people are using wifi to literly browse webistes and do normal everday things... well when you are paying a prity hefty fee for the bandwith you are alowed and are usualy also caped off at a lower then reported level... consider this fact. most signals are hackable and redirectable... some wifi chrackers are using a few difrent methods not eaven close to what were discused in the fcc groupings.. consider you have a acess point and you have a gr8 signal ratio of about 20Bda now this will transmit around lowside at aproxamitly the given antena gain and power per wat output.. recall you need to push more in then you get out.,. so the low eficieny without signal boosetrs. but consider you are not boosting just using an acess point. ok it;s a 2.4 ghz band trans ceiver. i say transiever cause it;s transmiting as well as receiving data and talking with the hosts at all times.. a hacker or eaven soemwhat of a knowlageable novice. can easily sniff your credit card algorythims and also all your passwords as if they were in clear text my fiends, cause the encryption algorythyms employerd are server seide.,,.. and the hash vales are allready widly known. are you aware that more ccd numbers are stollen and used as online purcheses andother things like porn and some weird thinsg that are soemhow deposated into fouring curencys and exchanged with a small vat ratio... they are literly stealling money right out of your nose without you ever knowing it.. the method works alot like this.... you have a guy in a car with a lptop runing soemthing like a linux terminal set up to sniff data. he simply drives down the street and a few blocks or past a coffie shop or somple with wifi.. he sends out a becon signal to disoreintate your acess point wifi card and tells you tyhat alls opk your still connected whilke infact your on his sytem and his copying all data.

     

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    DEM132, May 23rd, 2007 @ 5:58am

    a cops view

    I work in law enforcement. I have wireless at my home. I leave my netowrk open intentionally and have no problem with someone occassionally hopping on to use it.

    As for the original apples comment and waterhose comments, they both involve trespass. The apple tree owner to get the apples on your property and someone taking your hose and turning your water on. A more appropriate water analogy would be if I left my hose in the neighbors yard with the water running onto their property and they redirected it to their pool, is that a crime.

    I would certainly never arrest someone for piggybacking on an open wifi connection unless there was some indication of unauthorized access to the owners data.

    The bottom line, repeated often above is that it is relatively simple to apply MAC filtering and not broadcast your SID.

     

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    Wizard Prang, May 23rd, 2007 @ 6:40am

    Yes, but...

    nobody said it did.

    Hiding SSIDs just makes your WiFi a little harder to find, that's all. Those who are looking can find it easily enough.

     

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    |333173|3|_||3, May 23rd, 2007 @ 9:32am

    Category of behavoir

    there should be a category of behavoir which could be called "unprotected legal", meaning that in this case, you may, legally, access someones WIFI if thier system lets you on, but that in doing so you implicitly agree that whatever they may do to your system while you are connected (on a connection you initiated), is entirely your problem. Thus, you can connect to mey network, but I can steal your bank details and load malware onto your computer while you are on my network.

     

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    Shifty, May 25th, 2007 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Re: Looking at the road instead of the car

    The key word in your message is descrambling. It was encrypted, and it is illegal to decrypt without explicit permission. As for someone who is broadcasting signals which are not encrypted, it is their fault for leaving themselves open to attacks or loss of bandwidth.

    Also, if you didn't want a person to take something from you, you would have some sort of deterrent. Like locking your door, a sign saying will shoot trespassers, or encrypting your wifi. You wouldn't go and leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition would you?

     

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    Shifty, May 25th, 2007 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re: The proper analogy

    A man was arrested in Michigan for doing just that. He was sitting outside a coffee joint accessing the free WIFI. Then a cop came up to him and took him in. Later THEY (as in the man and the cop) both found out he was breaking the law. He was assessed a 400 dollar fine and 40 hours of community service.

    here is a link to the story.

    http://www.neowin.net/index.php?act=view&id=40457

     

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    Randy Northrop, Jul 3rd, 2007 @ 10:58pm

    receive wifi

    I couldn't agree MORE....it's in the ether...drifting around...if you choose to intercept it; use it...it's a bit like trying to tax air....but I shouldn't give ideas to anyone!...I'd just like to know what gear to buy/make to detect/receive wifi....I'd do it in a microsecond!...answers please!

     

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    cargun007, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Bad analogy warning

    If you left your hose laying out and it was on your property and running....hmmmm......that is not even remotely the same analogy. Your hose is in your yard.

    Now...if you left your hose out and running...in my yard...yep...I would fill up as many containers as I could.

    People, think about this for a minute.......these are radio waves bombarding into my house. They are being broadcast into my house...my laptop connects to them....and I can now surf the web. Should this be a crime? Did I break into the network...or was it offered up to me without any maliscious intentions on my part? Did I have to packet sniff the security?

    All of this is pure BS. Welcome to the world of uncontrollable radio waves.

     

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