Brazilian Telecom Authority Claims Sharing WiFi Is A Criminal Offense

from the can't-have-the-competition dept

Marcos points us to a story coming out of Brazil, where a guy who had an internet connection with WiFi, and agreed to share that connection with two neighbors is now facing two to four years in jail (Google translation of the original). Not only that but the Brazilian telecom authority ANATEL has seized his computer, modem and router, and have fined him approximately $1,800. They're claiming that sharing his WiFi was "providing an internet service without authorization." The guy is obviously fighting this in court, saying that it's ridiculous to claim that a guy sharing his WiFi should be classified as a regulated service provider...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:13am

    They are right though. He wasn't sharing inside his house with his roommates, he was sharing with neighbors, aka, other potential paying customers. It isn't very hard to understand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Re:

    This is the provider's fault then, for not stopping their signal dead at the boundaries of the property.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    crack is whack. put down the pipe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Re:

    So, the charge is "criminal interference with a business model"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:31am

    Re:

    @Mike:

    Can we have an account option to filter out replies from anonymous trolls?

    Thanks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:31am

    Re: Re:

    It could have been worse. He could have been downloading music.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    They're right only if you interpret every action that anyone takes as being commercial in nature.

    Eating before going to a movie theater is cheating the theater out of money you might have otherwise spent on popcorn.

    Giving food to the homeless is depriving food vendors of the money they might have gotten from the homeless.

    Letting a friend crash on your couch is depriving a motel of the money they would have made renting out a room.

    The service they are paying for is the same whether it's 3 neighbors using the access or 10 people who live in the same house using the access.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re:

    And?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    I don't want to live in your world where this is easy to understand. This guy is already paying for internet connection. The service is providing what he pays for, no more. The liability, bandwidth, and download caps are all the same.

    It's like if I ran a hose between my house and my neighbors, I'd still have to pay for the water service.

    This is probably a TOS violation, but that justifies a loss of service, not jail time, large fine, and loss of computer equipment.

    But hay, I don't know Brazil, maybe this does make sense. Like how it makes sense to some people to kill women for showing their faces (I don't want to live in that world ether).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:59am

    In the old days, you could ask your neighbour for a cup of sugar when you ran out.

    Nowadays, you'll serve 9 years in prison for daring to disrupt the business of the processed sugar companies.

    God bless the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re:

    "Like how it makes sense to some people to kill women for showing their faces (I don't want to live in that world ether)."

    Unless we can write specifics into the law, of course. The Nat'l Rosie O'Donnell Burkha Act of 2011 would certainly get MY vote....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    TheStupidOne, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    It could be a criminal offense ...

    if the government is in the telco's pocket (which it probably is) and they buy the service provider argument

    Now if that is not the case, then this is at worst a breach of contract dispute where the contract is the terms of service. Any fines from this dispute would likely be limited to what is stated in the TOS and if there is no clause granting fines to the telco, then their only recourse is to terminate the service or offer him new terms of service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Said the itinerant plumber.

    Can I file charges against a provider for putting their 'property' on my property? I don't ask for it, don't want it, yet it's there all the same. Damn sloppy of them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    I wonder, here in the US if I put a splitter on my cable input and ran it to my neighbor, would I be violating the law? How about if we split the cost for the service? Would that be against the law?

    I know that could violate the TOS, but break the law?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    Pretty good ISP

    Aside from the wacky business model

    There are a lot of people in this country that would like a connection robust enough that it could be shared.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re:

    ...Some people juggle geese...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re:

    Depends on where the splitter is. if its inside your house/Apartment (note that if you live in an apartment building, you can't touch the wires unless they are in your apartment not the basement of the building) you are ok to put the splitter there. Anywhere outside of that, it is considering tampering with the Cable company's property which is against the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Joe Krahn, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    It really is theft because the neighbor is getting a paid service for free. The legal details obviously depend where you live. However, jail time for sharing with one person is *severe* overkill.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    My problems with it:

    - It is really a crime? that seems harsh to say the least.
    - Why is that punishment is the first option for something that is not that clear?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re:

    This raises a very serious concern with those who advocate privatizing the spectrum. The most obvious being radio signals just don't stop at the property line.

    The most egregious, aspect would our currently free wireless routes now have to be "licensed" for which we would pay a fee?

    Taken to a logical extreme, should the radio spectrum be privatized, those who "own" it should be forced to pay a rental/fine for allowing their radio signal to trespass on my property.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Re:

    "This is probably a TOS violation, but that justifies a loss of service, not jail time, large fine, and loss of computer equipment." Private industry seems to have convinced the government that when a customer "violates" a TOS that it is a criminal offense. As a society, we seem to have lost the concept of two parties negotiating the terms of service for a civil business deal. It has become, "Take what I give you. Should I not like what you do, off to jail. You have no rights."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Big Al, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    My God - Arrest my wife and kids. Because of the router I have installed they're getting my paid internet connection for free and that's theft!
    Actually that may not be a bad idea... :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Paul G, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 2:33pm

    How did they know?

    What caused this issue to come to the attention of the ISP in the first place? What actions did they take to determine he was sharing outside the boundaries of his property?

    I guess greed is the motivation for the case.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Re:

    They're right only if you interpret every action that anyone takes as being commercial in nature.

    not paying your due to a large multi-national corporation is a form of piracy.

    Eating before going to a movie theater is cheating the theater out of money you might have otherwise spent on popcorn.

    yes, it's food piracy.

    Giving food to the homeless is depriving food vendors of the money they might have gotten from the homeless.

    more food piracy.

    Letting a friend crash on your couch is depriving a motel of the money they would have made renting out a room.

    bed piracy.

    The service they are paying for is the same whether it's 3 neighbors using the access or 10 people who live in the same house using the access.

    but the difference is 3 vs. 10 counts of wifi piracy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Joe (profile), Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 3:40pm

    Re:

    But the service IS already paid for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 10:38pm

    Re:

    It could be said that you are the source for an illegal connection, which would be theft of services. So yeah, you would be breaking the law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2011 @ 11:10pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    *snort* Ha, bed piracy! I'm suing my cats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Ted Burner, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 6:26am

    Everyone is doing the same thing because of poverty

    Most people in Brazil are poor and I think that this is happening all over the country. Everyone in the Favelas must be sharing the same wireless signal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    AC, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Contempt of Greed

    His real crime is Contempt of Greed. He'll probably get the death penalty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Bubbles, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Hmmm

    It is only unethical IMHO if he was charging them and profiting on it. If not then it is just sharing. (:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    actually this IS wrong

    This is exactly like if he ran a cable to their house for TV.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    AC, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re: actually this IS wrong

    No, it actually isn't anything like that at all. You're paying for the Internet **CONNECTION**, not for the Internet. What you choose to do with your connection is your business.

    With Cable television, you're paying for the **CONTENT**, not the connection.

    Stupid.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Brandon, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re:

    You do realize that you can purchase your own wireless router, and the provider cannot control the broadcast strength of that router, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    bvwt, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 12:28pm

    Wrong Method

    Everyone knows in Brasil that you have to pay those who bring charges against you. Then you can do anything you want. This guy needs to get wit the program.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I swear to god...live geese...goslings

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 5:56pm

    Re:

    It's a lot harder to split cable these days, what with Digital boxes, etc. But yeah, Years ago it used to be illegal (probably still is) to have more TV's than you told the cable company upon installment, even within the same house in some cases, let alone other people. "Theft of Service" I believe. Never stopped people, but cable companies learned their lesson and now most you need a account card or some other scramble/unscramble system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    luube, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 6:24pm

    So it would be fair if I bought a cd then let my friends download it, and so on? Kind of the same thing here

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Can't stop the signal, Mal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:33pm

    Re: Re:

    Never had a cable operator ask me how many TVs I had in the house. Just how many I wanted them to install to. Any further installs were then my problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    Any Mouse (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:35pm

    Re:

    No... I don't buy that argument...

    Sharing his internet connection only impacts his connection, not others using the service. They all have their own bandwidth and performance concerns, for which they pay. If he wants to slow his own connection, that's his business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

    What's next? Frito Lay suing everybody who attends a Super Bowl party that eats some Cheetos that they didn't bring?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2011 @ 11:32pm

    Re:

    In the same way that a garage sale competes with a department store

    Even if this is actually a violation under insane Brazilian law, it should be a minor civil matter

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    WarPhalange, Feb 6th, 2011 @ 2:21am

    Re:

    So if someone wants wifi but is too stupid to figure out how to use encrypted connections, they deserve jail time?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2011 @ 5:20am

    Block all access by MAC addresses. Owner's MAC address should be the only one allowed to get out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Johan Lundgren, Feb 6th, 2011 @ 3:29pm

    "...the Brazilian telecom authority ANATEL has seized his computer, modem and router, and have fined him approximately $1,800."

    Isn't this just enough? They busted a guy for sharing. SHARING! He was not selling anything but he was sharing it with someone who might not otherwise be able to afford it anyway.

    When Big Corp and the spineless-turncoat-sellout-government of ANY state does someting like that, we got a sad situation on our hands.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Daniel, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    I can see why it's frowned upon. The rules state in UK that the Wi-Fi connection is per household. But jeez, prison for 2 years?

    Give me a break. Sometimes I despair about the bad weather here, but at least the judicional system isn't completely insane,

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Just some more info:

    The crime he's being accused of is described as "perform clandestine telecomunication activities" (art. 183 of the Brazilian Telecom Act). This activities are descritbed as those that "that enables the provision of telecommunication" (art. 60, same act). You may find the act here: http://goo.gl/96cRi (Google Translate).

    The whole argument is around which could be considered or not a "telecomunication activity". ANATEL is claiming that this concept includes providing signal via wifi to various residences for pay (the neighbours split the cost of one connection and paid their shares to the defendant, who paid the ISP).

    So ANATEL is not trying to "criminalize TOS violation", this is a consequence of ANATEL's interpretation of the law (ANATEL is a telecom authority, not an ISP - and it was in fact created to halt ISP abuses, which makes the whole case really odd).

    And, yes, maybe the ISP has something to do with this. There is virtually no other way for ANATEL to discover such petite "violation" without being tipped by someone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    By the way, sorry for the typos and grammar mistakes. We don't speak English here in What, you know...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2012 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re:

    usually water is paid by the gallon and internet is one price per address, if he was paying per mb of data I don't think there would be any problem. Still seems like harsh penalties for a still grey area, trying to make an example.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This