We've been following stories about people being arrested for "stealing WiFi" for some time now, and we're still unsure of exactly what the crime is. If a person is accessing an open WiFi network without physically trespassing, should that be illegal, or should it be the network owner's responsibility to secure their network? Furthermore, how are people supposed to know what networks are okay for them to access, given the way many public-access networks use cryptic SSIDs? Anyhow, despite these questions, people continue to get arrested for using other people's WiFi networks, though it's been a while since we've seen it happen in the US. A couple of people have been busted in Singapore, where there's a specific law that could get you three years in the pokey for unauthorized access of a WiFi network. Now, two people in England have been arrested for WiFi theft, or more specifically, "dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment." To be fair, one of the people sounds like he wasn't up to much good, since it was his sitting in a car with cardboard covering the windows that attracted attention to him. While the police say that using somebody else's WiFi can get a sentence of up to five years in jail under the UK's Computer Misuse Act, this seems like an area where the law doesn't do a good job of dealing with technology, since it's virtually impossible for users to tell private, but unsecured networks from public ones that they're allowed to access. If people don't want strangers using their network, there a plenty of steps they can take to prevent them from doing so. That seems like a more reasonable response than threatening WiFi bandits with jail.
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