Are You Liable If Someone Does Something Illegal On Your WiFi?

from the you-shouldn't-be... dept

For years, whenever the press has written one of their fear-mongering stories about open WiFi, they almost always include some tidbit about how if someone uses your network to do something illegal, you can be arrested for it. It’s one of the popular open WiFi horror stories — but is it true? Well, of course, you can be arrested, but it’s unlikely that there would be any legal grounds for the arrest. The latest debate on this issue comes from a tech writer at the Houston Chronicle who is taking Tim Lee to task for an op-ed piece Tim wrote in the New York Times about open WiFi. The Chronicle writer says Tim is missing the real security issue, about how the RIAA can go after you if someone downloads music on your open WiFi. While it is true that they can go after you, there are valid legal defenses for this — as has been discussed for years. If you are legally sharing your WiFi, then you are a service provider, and under current laws you are not liable for what others do with the service. That’s what it says in the Communications Decency Act, and it clearly applies here. In fact, we’ve even heard stories of people purposely leaving their WiFi open for this very reason — as it gives them a legal defense should the industry ever come after them. Of course, it’s worth noting two things. First, the entertainment industry likes to pretend this defense doesn’t exist, even though it’s pretty clear in the law — and they could convince some judges to ignore it. Second, none of this takes into account whether or not your service provider allows you to share your connection via WiFi — as most do not. However, that doesn’t take away from the defense that you aren’t responsible for what others do with your connection. You may be investigated for it — but the use of your network does not automatically make you guilty, and there’s a very reasonable defense against it.


Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Are You Liable If Someone Does Something Illegal On Your WiFi?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
185 Comments
Robert says:

Re: Re:

I would think this falls under property law.

Occupiers liability is vicarious and strict. You are responsible for anything that happens on your property (non criminal). However this liability only extends to people you have invited onto your property or people that are there expressly with your permission.

Someone using your open wifi connection would not be able to transfer liability for their actions onto the host, as they technically fall under the term ‘tresspasser’.

Elf Ink (profile) says:

Civil, not criminal

Probably won’t get arrested, but might be subject to the losing end of a lawsuit, depending on whether or not you “should have known better”. If you’re a network engineer, and you don’t restrict the access, you might very well be liable. If someone rides the WiFi of a household where no one understands the security issues, they’ll probably get a pass. Unless they’re so rich they should have hired someone. Unless they did hire someone and they told them not to worry. Unless someone else…

Rob Miles (profile) says:

I'm not so sure..

It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity. Never mind the RIAA, if downloading or, heaven forbid, uploading of child porn was done over my network, why shouldn’t I be considered the primary suspect? Why shouldn’t I have the burden of proof?

I can claim that since I have an open, unsecured wireless network that it must have been someone else, but shouldn’t I have to prove that it wasn’t me, or that it wasn’t my specific computer(s)? Is there some way to prove that none of my computers were involved in that activity at that time, even though it was behind my router?

It may be fear mongering to tell people that there is a danger in leaving their wireless networks open, but it’s probably a good fear to have for the average person. If you aren’t able to document who was sharing your network at any given time, it seems to me that you can (and maybe should) have to answer for whatever occurs on that network.

Rob Miles



There are only 10 types of people in the world;

those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Brad says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

Wait…when did the burden of proof fall to the innocent? “but shouldn’t I have to prove that it wasn’t me”

That’s just idiotic. When did the innocent have to start proving their innocence? How are you supposed to, anyways? Showing that the MAC address didn’t belong to you? MACs can be faked.

Shaun Gardiner says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

Hey junior, there are many many MAC spoofing tools out there. And as for the innocent having to protect themselves, you are really not innocent at this point. If someone has taken time to hack your network chance are they are going to have the knowledge to basically blame it on you. And even if they have just stumbled accross your open network there is still a chance that they will know what they are doing and that they can point it right back to you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

Proving your innocence…..

Well, imagine that there’s a murder and a gun that you own is the murder weapon and found at the scene of the crime with some of your prints on it.

At that point you’ll need to prove it wasn’t you and that someone else must have taken your gun and did it. That’s the reason why you have a defense lawyer and why there is a jury. They take the evidence and decide whether or not to believe certain pieces of evidence.

Dan says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

I think claiming that someone faked your mac address to commit illegal activies on your wifi disguised as you would be a fairly weak legal defense. It might be reasonable doubt to the Techdirt crowd but to a jury of your peers. You’d have to call one of your hacker buddies as an expert witness to demonstrate it was possible.

C. Mercer (user link) says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

Well in this example evidence has already been presented that it was you, so your argument is weak at best.

Consider a organization bringing evidence to legal authorities that some illegal activitity has taken place from your connection to the internet. Havent they already established some crime (Civil or Criminal) has taken place and the burden of proof is now on your to prove that it was not in fact you at the computer, or someone was using your wifi connection to connect to the network in order to do what ever it is they did.

Jim Snyder says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

It is not idiotic at all, and the “innocent” have to prove thier innocence all the time. It is called shifting the burden of proof. A judge might reasonably be convinced that activity originating from your IP, MAC, phone number, or whatever is — more likely than not — attributable to you. At that point, you would have to prove otherwise. In this case, it very well might be enough to show that “MACs can be faked”, but the only “idiot” in the scenario would be the fool who expects a judge to accept that as general knowledge.

BillyBob says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I'm not so sure..

Guantanimo Bay is a worry to the rest of the free world. Once more, the US government says ‘You must live according to our laws, but your laws mean nothing to us.’

At the moment, the US can come into nearly any country, and ship you off to Guantanimo. And once you’re there, tough luck. Maybe you’ll get after out after 2 years, maybe not.

And I’m sure it will be a great comfort knowing that you are not in the USA, but in Guantanimo Bay.

Hooyer Dillingham says:

Re: Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

I don’t see any relationship to this issue. The prisoners in Gitmo were not residents of the United States. They were non-uniformed (no allegiance to a country) combatants taking up arms against us, as we pusued the AlQueda terrorists and Taliban. I don’t understand why people try to paint an illusion that these enemy combatants should be afforded the same constitutional rights that law abiding citizens of the United States have. They shouldn’t.

Scott says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

Pay attention to the law…The prosecution only needs a preponderance(sp?) of the evidence. There would not likely be capital crimes. If they come to court and show it came from your IP, your router, at your address, you simply can not throw up your hands and say wasn’t me.

They have to get a judge to say, there are no logs of anyone else doing it, it came from their internal equipment, and it was on their internet connection, they are the most likely party to have committed the offense.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

I can claim that since I have an open, unsecured wireless network that it must have been someone else, but shouldn’t I have to prove that it wasn’t me, or that it wasn’t my specific computer(s)? Is there some way to prove that none of my computers were involved in that activity at that time, even though it was behind my router?

That’s completely rediculous. It can take as little as 2 minutes to crack a secured wireless connection with the right software and a wireless NIC that can packet sniff. Would you like to the the one standing behind the “Defendant” sign in criminal litigation for child pornography because someone with malicious intent decided to upload a half dozen nasty pictures to a known, monitored bulletin board using your wireless connection? Would you like to try and prove that you don’t own the NIC through its MAC address, that you’ve never owned it?

The idea is completely absurd and boggles the mind.

Personally, I’m just happy to be sitting up here in the great white north, downing the contents of BitTorrent through a 7mb/s straw and not having to worry one bit about the legality of my actions… Ohhh Canada Baby.

Mark L. says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

@ Anonymous Coward:

Personally, I’m just happy to be sitting up here in the great white north, downing the contents of BitTorrent through a 7mb/s straw and not having to worry one bit about the legality of my actions… Ohhh Canada Baby.

If you are as good at “cracking” in 2 minutes secured wireless connection as you are understanding how BitTorrent works, then good luck to you 🙂

It is ILLEGAL in Canada to share (read: upload) content. There is no way you can NOT share while downloading with BT.

And, uh, which provider are you using that gives you 7″mb/s”? Link, please.

JoeA says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

Rob,

For a Chinese national, you sure have an odd name.

To answer your question on why you shouldn’t have the burden of proof, that depends on what laws you live under. On this side of the sea, we are presumed innocent and the plaintif has the burden of proof to show you as guilty.

Following your logic, you’d be guilty of manslaughter should your car be stolen and it is driven over a crowd of people.

Rolling over and complying with totalitarin entities disrespects my country’s founders, and implies people are all thieves. Ergo those that claim damages, are also thieves…. By standing up for your rights and having some self esteem you will break this circular run of “everyone is guilty, so hurt everyone you can before they hurt you.”

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

>>> It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity
Good luck proving a negative.

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?

Wolfger (profile) says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity.

sigh. I miss the days when people believed in “innocent until proven guilty”…. Proving you didn’t do something is virtually impossible. Doesn’t anybody understand that?

A.N.Other says:

Re: Guilty by default, eh?

Rob Miles wrote:

It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity.

Guilty until proven innocent, eh?

Scott says:

Re: Re: Guilty by default, eh?

Why don’t you get this? The link back to your IP address is called evidence, evidence points to guilt or innocence. If they trace back money laundering to your IP, you will have to prove you did not do it, because your IP is where the crime originated.

You are innocent until enough evidence points to you being guilty.

I did not do it is not a defense against a crime happened at an IP address, registered to you. Proving you were not home and running a script to do it, or that you were not logged in remotely is proof.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

You’re inverting the whole basis upon which our criminal justice system is based. It’s up to the prosecuter to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a suspect is guilty, not for them to say: Hey I think it’s you! Prove otherwise!

An open wifi network introduces a reasonable doubt that another person could have performed an illegal action traced back to your account.

In any criminal case involving computers the police will sieze your pc and go throught it with a fine toothcomb to esablish whether you are guilty – that is the evidence that will convict, not the fact that something was done on your isp account.

Even if you don’t have an open wifi connection if your computer is available to other family members or guests it has to be proven that it was *you* and not one of them.

Brian says:

Re: BURDEN OF PROOF

someone said

“It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity. Never mind the RIAA, if downloading or, heaven forbid, uploading of child porn was done over my network, why shouldn’t I be considered the primary suspect? Why shouldn’t I have the burden of proof? ”

because that’s not how the law works. I hope the law NEVER works that way… The burden of proof in a criminal case is on the prosecution, not the defendant – and for good reason. If the burden of proof of innocence rests on the defendant, then we are all guilty until proven innocent. With “unlimited” resources of investigation the prosecution has the power and responsibility to prove guilt. Anything else leaves us in a state where you can be tossed in jail and then asked to “prove your innocence”. All the while your home and all possible evidence to free you has been “inventoried” and what you would have used for defense “lost” or “damaged”. In a state where you are assumed guilty you then have no defense…

I’m not a big tin foil hat wearer and this isn’t a slippery slope argument – its rational and has been demonstrated time and again in states where guilt is assumed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: BURDEN OF PROOF

You obviously have never been arrested. I never thought I would get caught breaking the law, and luckily I had an attorney so I did not go to prison,and I got bailed out so I did not have to go to court in a LA County uniform. Most people do not have their cases broadcasted for people like you to see what really goes on, but if you think that the burden of proof falls on the POLICE, then you must believe that they really are crime-fighters. I did not have a previous criminal history, and yet I did not get released on Own Recognizance… Based upon my firsthand experience, I definitely disagree with your assumptions.

And that dog handler guy deserves to do his time in an Iraqi prison, in general population. (Random thought)

Steven (user link) says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

You don’t have to prove anything. The burden of proof isn’t on you. Remember that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing? Yeah, that still applies even in the current political climate. The RIAA or whoever sues you has to prove that it was you who did it beyond any reasonable doubt. Having your wifi open is certainly enought for a reasonable doubt, just grab any kid with a computer off the street to go on the stand, ask him if he’s ever connected to wifi that wasn’t his own. There’s your reasonable doubt right there.

Doc says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

In the US, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. You do not have to “prove” you are innocent, but if they have evidence that seems to go “beyond a reasonable doubt” (or “a preponderance of the evidence” in civil court), you would want something to refute the validity of their evidence. i.e.:

RIAA: “Your IP downloaded illegal music.”

YOU : “True, but my wireless router is unsecured.” (Weak)

YOU : “Oh, by the way, here are the logs showing several MAC addresses that do not belong to me that were connected to my access point during the time in question.” (Strong)

Jack says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

“Your IP downloaded illegal music”- is more then a tad weak. An IP address is simply a location but doesn’t prove anything. Think about how much spam passes through proxies that are a result of spyware. That’s just one example- then when you consider how many people near you might have accessed it you can’t conclude anything. In my area 5 or 6 other access points are available. That means your talking about the possibility of as many as 20 or more people having used your access point. I’ve used other peoples access points on many of occasions when away from home. I’ve used it at friends, relatives, school, hotels, and on the road and many other places. I’d also like to know what happens when my apartment complex which houses at least 150 people on a single unlogged internet connection and unsecured access point is used for illegal activity? It seem silly but even if they were to trace it to your mac address it’s not reliable.

On Linux/Mac/BSD or similar you can change your address with something like the following:

ifconfig eth0 down hw ether [mac address]

If you want a valid mac address you can even look it up.

http://www.iana.org/assignments/ethernet-numbers

Another thing that is recorded in logs, but not unique is your hostname

hostname xyz will change that as well on Linux

John V says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

The burden of proof is always on the accuser with regards to criminal law in every state of the United States. However, you are always wiser to have a defense.

Civil law affords a much wider latitude with regards to what is admissible in court than does criminal law. If a civil suit is brought forth against an individual and could go any way based on a judge/jury interpretation of the situation and the applicable laws of a given country or state.

Charles Ulrich (user link) says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity.

That’s a really crappy assertion and I sincerely hope you never work in the legal field. Assuming you live in the U.S., no, you do NOT have to prove that you didn’t do some illegal act. Let’s start with a hypothetical situation.

Imagine, if you will, that a friend or family member who knows absolutely squat about computers or network security buys a wireless router and sets it up in their home. Of course, it’s left at the factory defaults which are, by and large, highly insecure. It can’t be left to them to secure their access point and clients since they don’t even know what an SSID is.

Now, imagine further, that someone parks their car across the street, connects to the friend or family member’s network, and starts uploading all kinds of child porn to the web and hacks into several government networks. A week later, the cops come knocking on the door. The friend or family member explains that they have a wireless network and admitted that they had no clue that it was insecure. Further, they posit that they have never possessed any child porn nor the knowledge to hack into their VCR’s blinking clock, let alone a government computer network.

But of course any criminal can (and almost all do) deny any wrong-doing. But how can they prove that they didn’t commit a crime? Even if the police confiscate all of the computers and search the entire house, they can always assert that the friend or family member erased the incriminating evidence on the hard drives and ask them to prove that they didn’t. Even if the friend or family member can prove that they were somewhere else when the crime occurred, the prosecuter might ask them to prove that they didn’t remotely access their home computer to commit the crime.

See where this is going? It’s virtually impossible to conclusively prove that you DIDN’T do something. That’s why, in our system of law, the burden of proof is on the the party making the accusation, not the accusee. If they can’t demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that you did something illegal, the case is over and you walk free. This ideal is often captured in the phrase, “innocent before proven guilty.”

It would signify a severe breakdown in the integrity of our entire legal system (cynical comments on its current state aside) if a person was hauled into court and sent to jail because they couldn’t prove that they never did anything illegal with their shared internet connection.

it seems to me that you can (and maybe should) have to answer for whatever occurs on that network.

Now, this is a completely different question. According to this techdirt article, the author states that according to current law, one cannot be held liable if someone else uses their network for illegal purposes. I concur with this and think it should stay this way because people in our nation are already too obsessed with pointing blame at everyone else. (Example: in my city, you can be sued sucessfully if some clumsy idiot slips and falls on a patch of ice on your property.)

But for the time being at least, running an open wireless network doesn’t potentially subject you to criminal liability or a conviction even when you do nothing wrong.

James says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

It’s nearly impossible to prove a negative in most cases. The classic example is ‘Prove your not a jewel thief’. If you live alone then no one can give you an alibi for the times when you are asleep and you have no proof you were sleeping and not breaking into jewelry stores in the middle of the night.

This is why our courts are built on innocent until proven guilty. If someone uses your IP address to do something illegal, it’s not your job to prove it wasn’t you. It’s the prosecutors job to prove that it was you and not someone else. Showing an IP trace is the same as saying you were in the neighborhood, even on a hard wired network. It doesn’t prove guilt, it simply makes you a suspect.

Darrel says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

“Why shouldn’t I have the burden of proof?”

Because, at least in the United States, we’ve embraced a legal system that puts the burdern of proof on the accusing party. They must prove you guilty, not the converse.

In addition, the argument is just as the author states. If you can be seen as the suspect, why not the phone company that transferred teh data? Why not the film company that captured the kiddie porn? Etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

“Innocent until Proven guilty”

In Criminal Courts *only*.

The RIAA sues through the Civil courts, though, where the burden of proof is *far* less strict. All the RIAA has to do is prove “reasonable likelyhood.”

I don’t fault your enthusiasm, just it’s application here. It is, unfortunately, a 8very* common misconceptions, as you can see above.

everygamer says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

Simple, if they have your IP address, they also need to provide your MAC address for the hardware which was connected to your wireless access point. Every network device has a unique MAC address, and if someone connects to your wireless access point it will not match the MAC addresses for the machines in your house. Hence, it was not one of your machines. (barring someone spoofing one of your MAC addresses, if they can get their hands on one.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

“It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity. Never mind the RIAA, if downloading or, heaven forbid, uploading of child porn was done over my network, why shouldn’t I be considered the primary suspect? Why shouldn’t I have the burden of proof?”

You can’t prove a negative.

Ben says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

What about innocent until proven guilty?

Sure it was downloaded by your IP, but that does not prove that you did it. A hacker could have hacked into your computer and then made it download a movie.

As for the “You should have known better” idea, what if you believe in open wireless networks because they give free internet to people when they need it. If the RIAA and MPAA are going to sue people and say they should have known to encrypt their network then why do all routers default to being open?

I dont think it is a valid argument.

Md says:

Re: Re: I'm not so sure..

Almost all consumer level wireless routers/access points default to unsecure mode, since that’s the easiest way to get the end user connected. If the end user has to enable encryption on their PC to connect to the wireless access point, they may not take the time to figure it out (even if instructions are provided), and take the equipment back saying it’s broken or not working as expected.

It comes back to society catering to the unwashed masses. By dumbing everything down, and/or fitting everything into the “must be working 100% right out of the box” categories. E.g. If it doesn’t work out of the box, then it must be broken, and I’ll get the equipment from a different vendor. I’m saying this not just as speculation, but as exact examples of behavior I’ve seen at Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.

t3knomanser says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

As far as criminal charges, it’s up to RIAA to prove that you did it, you don’t have to prove anything. But RIAA doesn’t need to, or want to, send you to jail. They want to sue the pants off of you. The thing is, if you are a legal service provider, you can’t be sued. It’d never get to trial. If you’re just sharing your home WiFi and your TOS prohibits that- well, in that case, it’ll be messy.

Psych says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

“It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network… … then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity”

So, guilty until proved innocent you mean?

If someone steals my car and knocks someone down, am I liable unless I can prove my car was properly secured?

Hooyer Dillingham says:

Re: I'm not so sure..

I am sure you are posting from Saudi Arabia or a country similar. If you are in the United States then I sadly understand why I have been crying lately, “Where has my country gone?”

You write: “but shouldn’t I have to prove that it wasn’t me”

The last I knew in this country, the burden of proof was on the prosecution, and he who is being prosecuted is presumed innocent, until proven otherwise.

An open connection is definately ‘reasonable doubt’. Your connection could have been accessed by anyone. Enough said. You don’t have to prove that it wasn’t you. They have to prove nobody accessed your wide open connection, and you and only you were using the connection. A prosecution would almost be impossible unless actual illegal content was found on your computer.

I pray we never live under rule where the accused have an obligation to prove their innocence.

qreepii (user link) says:

good article

Although there are many robust legal defenses, organizations such as the RIAA have a couple thousand lobbyists in their pockets and on payroll. These people are actually tasked with either legally altering or illegally blinding the truth of the law. As well as documented accounts of jury tampering and solicitation. The best thing to do for anyone providing service with their wifi router is to simply add some basic security and logging. The worst thing to do but will save you in the eyes of any tribunal or court is either provide logs voluntarily or notify officials when log something suspicous. Although I am a proud advocate for the freedom of information I refuse to stick my neck out there for another person to bring down the guillotine…. just my opinion.

jimkrk says:

Re: good article

I realize that this is a little off question, but if the RIAA were to come after anyone for copyright violations, the easiest way out is just to buy the disks with the material under question, therefore allowing the purchaser fair usage under the law, and then bring a counter suit for harassment. Suit should be brought in small claims court forcing the RIAA to use expensive lawyers for trivial cases, kind of beating them up with bullcrap.Has the RIAA won any cases yet?

Dumbass says:

I don't understand...

can claim that since I have an open, unsecured wireless network that it must have been someone else, but shouldn’t I have to prove that it wasn’t me, or that it wasn’t my specific computer(s)?

I thought people in the U.S. were presumed innocent until proven guilty? If I have open Wi-Fi and claim that my connection was stolen for illegal activity, shouldn’t it be on the prosecutor’s back to actively pursue undeniable proof that it was my machine? Why should I have to come up with proof that I didn’t do it? How are you supposed to prove something like that?

bob says:

Agreed

“I thought people in the U.S. were presumed innocent until proven guilty? If I have open Wi-Fi and claim that my connection was stolen for illegal activity, shouldn’t it be on the prosecutor’s back to actively pursue undeniable proof that it was my machine? Why should I have to come up with proof that I didn’t do it? How are you supposed to prove something like that?”

Agreed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Agreed

HA! Ok well if you still believe your innocent until proven guilty, you haven’t been in criminal court before, you are, in fact going to need to prove your innocent before a judge, all that BS about innocence and justice are just fluff, just like the constitution… The only people that would get away with this are people with money and good lawyers, most regular people would be screwed.

Homer says:

Tighten Security.

All I can say (for private WiFi) is tighten up your security. Make sure you use the standard security protocols for your WiFi network.

If someone can “hack” it and then use it illegaly on it, then you’d have a better chance of staying clear from any lawsuites.

I personally dont like wireless networks, but it is nice being able to sit back with my Sharp Tripad and read my email from the bathroom at work =)

Hassle (user link) says:

Robs Reply

I’m not so sure.. by Rob Miles on Mar 20th, 2006 @ 6:38pm

It seems to me that if something illegal is done over my network (i.e. it’s traced back to the IP address that I had at the time of the illegal activity), then it’s my responsibility prove that I did not perform the illegal activity. Never mind the RIAA, if downloading or, heaven forbid, uploading of child porn was done over my network, why shouldn’t I be considered the primary suspect? Why shouldn’t I have the burden of proof?

I can claim that since I have an open, unsecured wireless network that it must have been someone else, but shouldn’t I have to prove that it wasn’t me, or that it wasn’t my specific computer(s)? Is there some way to prove that none of my computers were involved in that activity at that time, even though it was behind my router?

It may be fear mongering to tell people that there is a danger in leaving their wireless networks open, but it’s probably a good fear to have for the average person. If you aren’t able to document who was sharing your network at any given time, it seems to me that you can (and maybe should) have to answer for whatever occurs on that network.

Rob Miles



There are only 10 types of people in the world;

those who understand binary and those who don’t

—————————-

I see you have a good point, but the fact is that you track thing only so far, router in a LAN tools with a port to the WAN ( internet) if the RIAA trace route you they are going to get your WAN ip address then they will stop look and get your MAC address, then and packet ripper to get the name and info on the hard using that MAC address, once they see the UNIX and I clone on the list they know its a Router and there for knowing thats is most likey a wireless because thats the most sold out there they arent going to bother because its top much hassle. and proving that it

and theres only 2 kinds of people to understand binary, 1 0

perogi says:

Re: Robs Reply

“and theres only 2 kinds of people to understand binary, 1 0”

Umm, guess you fell asleep in CS 100. 10 binary == 2 in decimal therefore, “there are only 10 types of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who don’t” is accurate.

In the US, you are innocent until proven guilty, although being able to prove your innocence doesn’t hurt either!

********************************

The Religious Right – America’s Taliban

********************************

lilwip says:

Re: Robs Reply

and theres only 2 kinds of people to understand binary, 1 0????

Actually there are only 10 kinds of people who understand binary, those that do and those that don’t.

If you are gonna steal quotes from Bash.org, at least don’t misquote them…



Re: Re: I’m not so sure.. by dudex on Mar 21st, 2006 @ 1:13am

Last time I checked, in the USA you are “innocent until proven guilty”, not “guilty until you prove you are innocent.”

Tell the people in Guantanamo bay that!

and then tell the people in Guantanamo Bay that they are not IN THE USA!!!!! and then remind them that charges are being brought up on the people who violated their civil liberties….

why not just buy a cd?

two reasons, a> CD’s are WAY overpriced and usually only end up with 1 or two decent songs on them and 2> I vote with my dollars, until the music industry starts producing music WORTH buying, why should I buy it??? Most of my music I get from ITunes where I can download the one song I like off the album and then burn my own CD’s of the music that is good…

Rob Miles (profile) says:

Re: Re: Robs Reply

“Actually there are only 10 kinds of people who understand binary, those that do and those that don’t.

If you are gonna steal quotes from Bash.org, at least don’t misquote them… ”

I think you were directing this at me, and I’ll have you know that I did not steal that quote from bash.org (though I’ve recently found the site and I really love reading the quotes.) I saw the “10 kinds of people” thing 3 or 4 years ago in a mailing list I belonged to at the time from topfive.com. I don’t know who the guy I stole it from stole it from (unless he actually was the author), but I’ve used it as my signature line ever since.

Besides, your version doesn’t make any sense. 10 kinds of people understand binary, those who do (understand) and those who don’t (understand)? How does that even remotely scan?

I can’t believe the number of people here who completely miss the whole “innocent until proven guilty” point when it comes to criminal or civil law. You are innocent until “proven” guilty only as long as there is no evidence against you. Once evidence against you is presented, you can sit there and quote “innocent until proven guilty” all you want, but I’m going to start working on proving the evidence isn’t sufficient to convict me.

Rob Miles



There are only 10 types of people in the world;

those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Robs Reply

Dear “Hassle”,

That loud “whooshing” sound you probably heard is this rather old mathematics joke zooming over your head. Judging from your reply, you are not the 1 of the 10 kinds who did understand binary.

We apologize to you for the lack of base subscripts, but that would have really given it away!

Satan says:

Re: analogy

You really did not provide enough information. Did you really not know you left it in front of your lawn? If you ask this type of what if question, then it seems like you actually did intend to cause some kind of harm. Did you leave it on the sidewalk in front of your lawn? Aren’t sidewalks public property? Are these butter knives, or are they butterfly knives–which are illegal in my city. If you left something illegal out on public property in front of your own property, I would say that you are about as stupid as your question. Suppose you changed your weapon of choice from knives to grenades, or to vials of anthrax, do you think that the police would think that you are free from liability if someone who has more money than you got injured? What if that someone happened to make huge donations to your local police? What if you had a criminal record? If you were to act like such a bust, and leave your murder weapon out on your lawn for your nosy neighbors to see, so then you could act like it got “stolen,” when inevitably there is some old person who acts as a security camera for your neighborhood watch, then it is your fault that you are so stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: analogy

If you leave a weapon out like described (presuming that it’s not a butter knife) and someone is injured by that weapon then you are guilty of “enablement” of the injury. If the injury occurred during a violent crime then you are an accessory to a violent crime.

I don’t buy the open WiFi defense one bit. If you leave a tool open for anyone to use and someone uses it for illegal purposes then you are liable. The clause of service provider will not apply to private WiFi unless you have filed for the permits and/or licensing to provide that service and then pay business taxes for that permitted service. On the other hand, if you take appropriate measures to protect your network and someone still breaks in and commits a crime then you should have logs to prove the attack and a MAC address that has not been on your network before the attack. Sure a MAC can be faked, but the odds of the fake MAC matching one on you network is pretty far out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: analogy

I don’t buy the open WiFi defense one bit.

On the other hand, if you take appropriate measures to protect your network and someone still breaks in and commits a crime then you should have logs to prove the attack and a MAC address that has not been on your network before the attack. Sure a MAC can be faked, but the odds of the fake MAC matching one on you network is pretty far out there.

I watched Kevin Mitnick crack 64 bit web in 32 seconds. 128 bit in 3 minutes flat. Tools like netstat, netstumbler, and many others that assist you in cracking wep and seeing the MAC addresses and IP addresses of every device on the network are freely available for download on the web. If I were going to hack into your secure network to do something illegal, you can be certain that the mac address that performed the illegal activity would be EXACTLY the same as one on your network. You would probably end up with a few files that you never had before as well. Maybe even some docs printed on your printer that was on the network…

People who are out there wardriving are not the Average Joe users who know nothing about what they are doing. Most of the “average users” are going to ride the open free networks. The wardrivers are the ones with the brains and the tools to do it right…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: analogy

Depends where on your front lawn you leave it, whether the box is locked, whether someone has to trespass onto your land to steal the knife, etc. Landowners are liable for injuries of trespassers normally only when the hazard is known (or should be) or concealed, or if it is something so extraordinarily dangerous that strict liability should be imposed (eg, you are experimenting with landmines in your yard).

You are entitled to have a box of knives on your own private property. If someone takes one out of the box, (also known as larceny), while they are on your property without permission, you are not liable for what they do with the stolen knife.

Not a redneck says:

Re: analogy

Let’s clean up the analogy.

Leaving a box of knives on your front porch could be considered a form of negligence on your part.

How about this instead…

I leave a hammer on my porch and my redneck neighbor bludgeons his brother to death with it during a fight about who drank the last Budweiser. How am I legally implicated in any way?

Marshall (user link) says:

news to me.

That’s intresting. I had actually never heard that people were getting arrested for dumbasses using their WiFi. It makes me want to protect my WiFi, even though I now know I cannot be penalized for it, it would still be quite annoying to have the cops and whoever else come and mess with my stuff. I guess I’ll just leave it open for anyone stupid around here to get busted with.

-‘disgrace’

Md says:

Re: news to me.

You *should* be busted if you are leaving your network open and allowing someone (or several someones) to conduct illegal activity from your network.

This is more proof that people should be required to attend classes and get a certification that they aren’t so frelling stupid, so they can put a wireless network up. I know it takes an additional 30 seconds or so to implement even the most rudimentary security, but come on folks. Use some common sense! The arguement of “I didn’t know.” or “I don’t know about this internet security stuff. I don’t have time to deal with it.” is pure BS, and should not be tolerated. But it is. The US courts have no qualms about protecting stupidity and continuing to permit the unwashed masses from flooding on to the Internet; by allowing these frivilous lawsuits to even go forward, let alone permitting the litigious morons to prevail. It’s time for a change.

Satan says:

another thing

I think that in reference to the “Innocent until proven guilty,” the nature of the judicial system (for criminals mostly) is “GUILTY, unless proven innocent (if you can afford to hire an attorney who knows what to do.)” This “Innocent until proven guilty” saying is an impersonal and insincerely-crafted cliche. If they REALLY thought one was so innocent, then they wouldn’t set the bail amount so ridiculously high. Everyone who got arrested would get OR’d when they went to court from the jail/substation.

Just Another Joe says:

Ignorance is no excuse

I’ll admit this is way off topic, but I hate stupid comments. That said.

Tell the people in Guantanamo bay that!

Last time I checked, Guantanamo Bay was not in the US, the people were taken into custody for probably cause by US military forces while conducting raids, seizures, searches, etc. and they are considered prisoners of war. Also, US law does not directly apply to them, but international law and the Geneva Convention does.

jim says:

Re: Ignorance is no excuse

There is no such thing as international law, the US has has vetoed any attempt to make something as organised as this. However, even though US law does not apply to the whole world, the US gov. will attempt to apply it to people outside its borders regardless. Extradiction into the US is quite common if someone does something the gov. does not like.

Don’t get me started on the US gov. compliance with the Geneva convention, but needless to say there are numerous documented cases of violations by the US gov.

Foreign people don’t hate US freedoms (not many left if you pay close attention, I actually pity you), they hate the US interfering with ours.

irukandji says:

Re: Ignorance is no excuse

The Geneva Convention DOES NOT APPLY to the people in Guantanamo Bay. They ARE NOT prisoners or war! They were not from a recognized government and were not in uniform. By the Geneva Convention standard they could be shot upon capture. But you are right US Laws do not apply to them.

Stud Beefpile says:

Re: Ignorance is no excuse

Probable cause cannot really be established for Guantanamo prisoners – despite being held on federal land, their incarceration is not subject to the same standards of evidence as the incarceration of criminals in the US. The Geneva Conventions *should* apply, but the Bush administration has been fighting tooth-and-nail to make sure it can do whatever it wants to its “prisoners of war” without having to worry about pesky treaties.

Moi. says:

Running open?

Oh hell no, okay, it may give you a defence, but do you really want your neighbour caning your bandwidth to download the latest movie or game?

Okay, you have a valid legal defence when the jackboots of the legal system show their ugly face, but more to the point your own illegal downloads are going to be retarded. I don’t want the student scummers next door using up my valuble bandwidth.

Besides all that, if they do, and they download kiddie and animal pics, whose computer equipment do you think the constabulary are goin to seige when your IP address is traced?

More hastle than its worth.

Securing your wifi is vital. Anyone who doesn’t realise this deserves the discomfort when they are arrested for someone else’s crime, and the nightmare of trying to get their property, and possibly their virginity, back afterwards.

Chris Taylor (profile) says:

Liability and Innocence

You have a good point but your forget one thing. at least for now we in this country are still innocent till proven guilty. the burden of proof is on the RIAA not you. they have to PROVE you are guilty. You do not have to prove you are innocent (though that would help) if you tracked mac addresses (not sure if that is possible or not) and could show the offending mac address was not one of your own then you have met your end even if you did not have to.

Chris Taylor

http://www.nerys.com/

jim says:

A Scenario

What I would like to see answered by a lawyer is:

Someone hacks your Wi-fi, by working out your key, spoofing your MAC address on the access control list (all known exploits) and then does something illegal (shares music, hack someone else). Are you liable?

Someone uses a known windows exploit to turn your PC into a zombie, then uses it in a denial of service attack to bring down a server seomwhere. Are you liable?

Both scenarios pretty much have the same theme and are comparable in essence. Therefore they should both have the same rules?

Alternatively your router manufacturer should be liable for provideing hackable security as should your OS supplier. You get sued by someone, you sue them for providing flawed software.

Jay says:

wi-fi can't always be secured

While I secured my router for wi-fi access, my bridge does not have the capability of being secured. So although no one can come in through my router they can come in through the bridge. I didn’t even realize that the system wasn’t secure for over a year because of that. In addition, my router always has problems with dropped connections and SLOWER connections when security is on. As a result I have turned off security. I am not out there intentionally sharing my connection but I am not stopping anyone from connecting to it because of the hardware issues and hassle involved. The law doesn’t require me to secure my wi-fi so I am not doing it. The RIAA can sue me if someone connects to my Internet connection and downloads music or other copyrighted materials but I doubt they could win. It’s a losing strategy for RIAA anyway. It’s not like all of these lawsuits have hindered copyright violators. I don’t condone copyright violations but going after the end user is not the strategy to take. Neither is DRM with it’s myriad of problems including interoperability issues and higher battery usage. To me the solution is cheap access to copyrighted materials with no DRM. People would be fine paying a nickel for a song. They would’t even mind purchasing that song multiple times whenever they wanted to hear it. To me that’s the future of content sales. We are becoming a discard society — RIAA has to realize that the content must be provided in the same model. Buy it listen to it. Buy it again when you change devices or whatever. Until then it’s a cat and mouse game that the RIAA will ineviatably lose.

Riskable (user link) says:

Wow, so short-sighted

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: An IP address is not an identity!

Repeat after me: AN IP ADDRESS IS NOT AN IDENTITY!

At best an IP address is a single computer. At worst it is a whole network of computers (which is common these days). There’s no way in hell I could ever believe, based on an IP address alone, that a person behind that IP committed any given crime. There’s too many other factors and open Wifi is just one of them.

The discussion going on here is so short-sighted. Most people seem to forget:

* A PC behind that address could be hacked/remotely controlled (ever heard of zombies?)

* A single PC can be used by multiple people. You can’t sue a whole household.

* An IP address can be faked. Just because some P2P app says that a client is at 123.45.67.89 doesn’t mean it really is.

* A person could have had evidence of copyright violation planted on their computer. Given, it isn’t likely, but it is still a possibility. It is the burden of the prosecution to prove that this isn’t the case. If we just go by IP, it would be too easy to blackmail people.

There’s more, but I think you see the point.

-Riskable

“I have a license to kill -9”

Searcher says:

So....

So am I resp if someone steals my shoes then uses them to rob a bank? Am I resp for any traffic violations committed by the guy that jacked/stole my car? When I was young a foolish I could not afford an acoustic modem for my laptop so I could hack from a payphone so what did I do? I would splice into the external phone lines of people’s homes. Now if I had been busted doing that could they also sue the home owners who’s line I hyjacked for my own purposes? Let’s open all WiFi access in the RIAA’s honor!!!!

JFS says:

Innocent until Proven Guilty

To all the people talking about that aspect of it, I found it interesting that a state judge here in Minnesota made an interesting ruling about traffic red light cameras this week. Originally, the police just sent a ticket to the owner of the car. The judge ruled that it was illegal to do that vs. our due process rights. It put the burden of guilt on the owner of the vehicle (vs. someone else who was driving the car at the time). The judge said unless the police had proof of the driver it couldn’t be used as legal evidence of wrong doing against the owner. Made me wonder if the same thing could apply here.

MD says:

Straighten It Out!!

IANAL – But even I can see the tons of misconceptions floating around here…

Criminal Law – says you are innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if the authorities have grounds (IP address) to believe something illegal is coming from your network, that is reasonable grounds for a warrant.

They seize (not “seige”) all your computer equipment, anything that looks like video or audio recording equipment and media, and anything that remotely might be connected to the alleged crime(s). You get it back 2 or 3 years later, after they go over it with a fine-toothed comb, and presuming they find absolutely nothing incriminating. But, that’s OK, it’s taken you 3 years anyway to recover from being arrested on Channel 5 News as a kiddie porn trader; and you lose your house paying for the lawyer.

Civil Law – not “presumed innocent”. You have to show that it’s likely that someone else is the culprit, ie. for file trading; if they find stuff on your computers, well, better have the CD’s.

guatnamo bay is not US territory, but the prisoners are not “Prisoners of war” or they would have rights. They are “enemy combatants”, a name recently made up to excuse exemption from US and international law.

a lawyer says:

Communications Decency Act

The Communications Decency Act (CDA) does in fact offer immunity to an interactive computer service (ICS) for content posted by others. See 47 USC section 230(c).

But while that immunity is fairly robust, protecting the ICS from e.g. libel claims, it offers NO immunity for intellectual property claims (such as copyright claims) or criminal liability. See 47 USC section 230(e)(1)-(2).

47 USC section 230

That’s not to say there might not be other defenses, but the CDA point in your post is not quite right.

Kevin Dill (user link) says:

Be proactive with your WiFi

If you are going to throw your signal out on the airwaves, take a few minutes to learn how to set up encryption. If not, you might as well tape your credit card to a window in your house. Liabilities should be limited. However, what happens to you for not heading the warnings to encrypt is something you might unhappily end up regretting .

Kevin Dill

http://ushightech.com

Anonymous Coward says:

Guys,

RIAA doesn’t sue through the Criminal Justice system, where one is innocent until proven guilty.

They sue through the civil courts, where, basically, the burden of proof is on the accused.

This is the main reason their tactics are so incredibly successful. They avoid the whole “We have to prove they did it” scenario and just bully the court into finding in their favor.

So all of this innocent until proven guilty simply does NOT apply.

Sorry guys, hate to be the bearer of bad news…

j$ (user link) says:

Re: Re:

that’s actually 100% false information. the burden of proof is always on the party who brings the action. There are instances in a civil trial where the party bringing the claim can shift the burden to the defending party, but this is done after they show an initial reasoning for shifting the burden, this is almost exclusively done when trying to produce documents via discovery, where the defending party is the only party that has access and control of relevant material.

m says:

Proof

Terms have different meanings. The word theory has one meaning to a scientist, another to an attorney, and a completely different thing to my 92 year old father who has a “theory” that he can be 16 again if he finds the right diet.

Proof to a jury has a different meaning than to a mathematician. Some jurors have been known to believe that the defendant is guilty because he is on trial, or that the defendant has been indicted. More famously, proof is a better than 12/13 chance of guilt, as in “better that 12 guilty men go free than one innocent be punished.” Those really aren’t very good odds for “proving” guilt if you look at it from the point of an innocent trapped in the justice system.

Frankly, our system of justice provides a pretty good punishment process even for those who are found to be completely innocent, or even those who have the charges dismissed at an early stage in the process.

Coldsteel says:

With all of the zombie machines out there – Open WIFI is probably the least of the problems. Clearly and quite frequently a PC can be turned into a remote controlled server offering all kinds of stuff besides SPAM and with some of the stealth techniques available it becomes difficult for even someone knowlegeable and looking for a problem to detect it. There’s probably a good defense and some legal precedent to fall back on if you are victim of malware when the RIAA or others come a calling.

Justice is a Facade says:

Innocent Until Decided Guilty

Everyone here claiming the Innocent Untill Proven” logic apparently has never been charged with any offense. This MORONIC mentality is the same as the “cops cant search me” BS. The law does not apply once an officer of the state decides there is a reason for him/her to begin investigation. The shear fact that the “innocent” are actually guilty in the BLIND eyes of the law is the request for an “Alibi”. Here you are giving information and providing PROOF (a reciept or the like) that you are NOT guilty. There is no burden other than the burden on the state to give a mockery of a trial. The only time you are even close to given a chance is a Jury trial, and then the facts dont really come into play, it turns into a history of the person on trial…. THERE IS NO TRUTH TO THE BURDEN OF “PROOF” LOGIC…..

Md says:

Free WiFi? Excellent!

I like hearing about all of you folks leaving your wireless networks open. Makes things easier for people to just hop on and surf the ‘Net with as little interruption as possible. It also means I can locate at least 1 open wireless network *anywhere* I go. If you leave your wireless network open, you are jsut asking for someone to take advantage of your stupidity. Yes, I’m even talking about you pretentious folks in Highlands Ranch, and/or Cherry Creek area.

Yes, I said it. You are stupid for leaving your wireless network open. Do you leave your home unlocked, windows and doors wide open? What about your vehicle, do you do the same thing; e.g. leave your keys in the vehicle, with doors unlocked and windows down? I thought not.

Jack says:

Re: Free WiFi? Excellent!

Open wifi is a good thing. I wish people would stop being elitist pricks. Sharing bandwidth isn’t going to drastically slow anybody down and it’s only a selfish person would make such a claim. I’ve got at least 50 people that I share a 2M internet connection with and I almost never get less then that. The second thing is if you can’t afford to loose your privacy you probably don’t want wifi unless you take additional steps to secure it beyond the standards. At the end of the day open wifi is better. Sure- you might loose a little bandwidth once in a while (if your even using it at the time) but you gain the ability to access the internet in more locations.

Reader says:

Something to consider

Two big problems in all these discussions about law and legal principles:

— Judges who don’t have the technical ability to understand how the internet and networks operate;

— Judges who are paranoid about “hackers” and eager to throw the book at anyone accused of being a “pirate.”

I believe in the American idea that one is innocent until proven guilty, but unfortunately it often takes a very good lawyer and a lot of money to get that principle upheld.

(Lastly: I did not want to weigh in on this side topic, but deliberately creating a concentration camp that is technically not on U.S. soil, and using tortuous reasoning to avoid the Geneva Convention and other treaties, is at least immoral and unethical, and at worst a crime. In any case, it at minimum strikes me as un-American to imprison anyone — even alleged enemies — without access to a fair hearing and full legal defense. I was brought up on the Constitution and the idea that America likes to set a higher example. Gitmo is an affront to all true patriots who see beyond fear tactics and short-term expediency.)

Bill (user link) says:

Do what large companies do : WPA-Enterprise

Although it may be considered “fear-mongering” by some (just as sellers of firewalls and anti-virus were accused of years ago), if you run your network wide open, as most people do, you are, indeed, accepting a foolish risk. Hotspots are laughably insecure too. Metro Wi-Fi…matter of time before someone “hacks a town”..won’t that be interesting? The tools are there. With all the ID theft and Zombie PCs..maybe it’s happening already. Fear-mongering? Perhaps it’s over-inflated but that’s only because there are so many targets to choose from. Go to WIGLE.NET and see if your network is one of the almost 6,000,000 they’ve mapped with GPS.

Sure..it may not be two pale, over-caffeinated dudes with “RTFM” t-shirts sitting in a black conversion van in your cul-de-sac..it might be the neighbor kid, or it might be someone miles away (yes, your data can be “sniffed” from miles away). They may search your data for something juicy, launch a bunch of SPAM, introduce their new worm, who knows?

As to the specific topic at hand, any Illegal activities will most certainly be linked to your IP address you were assigned at the time. How will you prove it wasn’t you?

The only real way to secure a wireless network is to use WPA/WPA2 Enterprise security…not MAC-filtering (a joke), not WEP, (a, perhaps, funnier joke). WPA that comes with many APs is decent, but not perfect.

WPA – Enterprise is backed with a RADIUS server so all activity is logged via multiple passwords, etc. So..if you want to let your neighbor share, fine, but the RADIUS server logs his activity.

Problem is..what home or small business owner wants to build a friggin’ RADIUS server or can afford to buy an Enterprise-ready one? Well, now you don’t have to.

WiTopia sells a service called SecureMYWiFi and it does just that. Cheaply, simply, and quickly. Downside is I guess if people used it..it’d end spirited debates like this one.

Stein says:

Inocent until proven Guilty

Whoever said that you innocent to proven guilty doesn’t know a thing about the legal system. That is for cases which involved the “state??? (People of the US v. *, People of the State of Nevada v. *, etc…). In a civil case it’s the preponderance of the evidence. Is it more likely then not to have happened? Thats all they got to prove, anything greater then 50%.

Ano says:

well we can talk on this subject for a long time, but they will be knocking on/down your door. not the person who is “stealing” your wifi(assuming you dont know, but if u did then “sharing”). id like to save my door. 😛 and all my computers/cell phone/and electronic devices they would confiscate since they would think im the guy sharing songs with people.. damn theres freaking thunder and lightning here in hawaii…!!

Ano says:

well we can talk on this subject for a long time, but they will be knocking on/down your door. not the person who is “stealing” your wifi(assuming you dont know, but if u did then “sharing”). id like to save my door. 😛 and all my computers/cell phone/and electronic devices they would confiscate since they would think im the guy sharing songs with people.. damn theres freaking thunder and lightning here in hawaii…!!

michael says:

Piece is very USA-centric

The whole thing is written under US law. It does not consider any laws of any other jurisdictions. Yet everything you do on the world wide web has to be considered from the point of view of everywhere that it is published. So, for example, under a case decided by the Australian High Court (equivalent level to the US Supreme Court) the publisher of Bloomberg (Dow Jones Inc) which owned and operated a web server in New Jersey, New York was liable for its defamatory content in the jurisdiction of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia because it was held to be published there. Similar logic would sent apply with respect to any international jurisdiction which held the publisher of a website responsibile for its criminal content.

Zeroth404 says:

“Doesn’t anyone proof read their comments before posting, checking for spelling and grammar?”

Thats Unecessary. As long as your post gets your point accross, then spelling and gramar don’t matter. Why is this such an issue for you?

“If you should have known better, then you could be partially guilty.”

Sharing an internet connection is not a crime.

Colehard says:

The safe order of preference is no wifi, open wifi

Sorry if someone else has posted this.

It seems to me that securing wifi is more risky than leaving it open. If you are worried about defending the use of your internet connection when the router is open just think about how much harder it will be to defend that use if it is secured and someone has hacked your connection. How many judges are going to believe that you didn’t do it?

This is the concern with all new technologies – reliance on their accuracy or ability to identify someone or protect your security. If they fail you are likely really screwed. It seems quite clear that some judges will accept the evidence that since you secured your connection you must have been the one using it.

So the only way to be safe is to coat your exterior walls with foil or don’t use wifi.

Randy says:

Everyone is overlooking a key point here. Civil court is completely different from criminal court. The level of proof needed is vastly different. In a criminal trial, the plaintiff must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil court case, the burden is only “who is more right” or, in other words, who is 51% right. If you ask me, playing those 51% odds against the RIAA is not a wise decision.

icebox says:

get the legal system straight guys

Look, if the RIAA or MPAA comes after you, it’s going to be a civil case. RIAA has to provide evidence that would allow the judge to rule in their favor. It doesn’t have to prove you did it, just make it more likely than not that you did it. Once they do that, then its your responsibility to come back and show either 1) that their evidence is bad or 2) that you have evidence suggesting more likely than not that you didn’t do it. If you just say “someone else could have been on the connection” that doesn’t count for anything, because they will have shown that you *have* used your connection and the fact that some unkown other might have used the connection isn’t as strong as the proof that you have used it before and after the alleged bad stuff occurred. If you want to show that you didn’t do it, you need to show *evidence* that can overcome their evidence that you use your connection all the time, and that your connection downloaded whatever’s at issue. It’s as simple as that.

And if you did something that ends up in a criminal case, keep in mind that prosecutors generally only bring cases when they know they have evidence that is enough to win. That’s how they keep those 98% conviction records. Sure, they have to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but the strongest defenses will show not just that someone else *could* have done it, but rather that it’s likely that someone else *did* do it. If all you say is “someone else could have used my open connection” then the issue will be is there any reason to think that someone else did. If there is no reason to think that, then there’s no reasonable doubt. If there is, then you’ve got something to play with. But if you were smart you’d have shown that to the prosecutor upfront, to try to keep him from bringing charges in the first place.

In general, defendants do have to show that doubts are reasonable if they want to get off, whether by proffering their own evidence, showing that the prosecution’s evidence is crap, or both.

Just remember “innocent until proven guilty” is only criminal. With civil cases, it’s whoever has the better evidence wins.

Michael Jeansonne says:

Liability on Wi-Fi

Here we go again. This is another case of the legal field finding someone else to blame. Stop and think for a moment about typical homeowners that have wi-fi connections. Typically they have more than one computer and one printer. So it makes sense to wi-fi the home to shared folders and to the one printer. Further, I would guess that most homeowners are relatively computer smart, but may not clearly understand the wi-fi network, in particular security issues.

So, if a neighbor is using his neighbor’s wi-fi because he is so close and is using that signal illegally, the legal system should go after the bad guy.

I can see it now, a lawyer is going to sue Starbucks because a customer was using Starbucks’ wi-fi to send out a virus, instead of the customer because Starbucks has deep pockets.

Just my 2 cents worth

Chand says:

New Law

I agree with what he says, that if you leave your wifi open and some one else does the dirty, then you are not liable. But, i would not want to be the one going up against the recording industry, the movie industry or any other industry that tries to take this, remove even more rights that we have as consumers and get the law changed.

confused (user link) says:

Wow

I had my wi-fi open, never figured out how to close it, im a noob. I got a email from comcast saying I downloaded a file and im in violation of a copyright infringement???? Did some asking around, I live in a small neighborhood, a few people around me don’t have internet access, but have laptops, and have been using my connection. So does comcast have any grounds to come after me?? Pathetic in this day and age, I have to worry about petty stuff like this..

Rick says:

I'm not so sure..

Well i was falsly accused of indecent exposure in my local Kmart store by security and a manager to police and was banned from the store and have evidence that i was not the perpitrator as stated as being bald headed which i am not and on the 7 th of July when a complaint was made to Kmart i was on the phone with my grandmother and was impossible for me to have een there. I was in the store on the 12 th and baned and then rrested for criminal tresspass which charges have been droped. But after i was arrested because of the accusations i was as part of mey citation placed under house arrest and was not released till Dec 15 th when charges were droped by the county attourneysoffice. I agreed not to go back in Kmart till i get writen permission from corprate or sue and it is ordered that the ban against me was unlawful. I am looking for a civil rights lawyer. I was also abused both physically and verbally by the police officer after i told him i did not have a drivers liscense and was legally blind and have to walk wherever i need to go. After i got outside he stared asking where my vehicle was and squeezed and pulled back on my writs and did this 4 times and saying louder and pulling back more forcefully each time I SAID, WHERE IS YOUR VEHICLE? And trid to force me into he police car when i told him i could not sit back because i have a bad back and another officer heard me and told him to take the cuffs off me and put them on in front of he would i am sure forced me back into the car or pulled me out and attacked me.

tom says:

you are innocent until proven guilty unless the circumstances make it impassable to prove guilt ie very easy leave no evidence

so lets say i have a open wifi and i use knoppix with no hard drive their will be no trace of a crime or anything else that i do

now this goes 2 ways wep can easily be cracked and a laptop can be configured the same way or a desktop with an inverter in a van

i hate to say it but if a crime is commented somebody must pay so we at least have the appearance of justice justice is a thing of the past

if i’m not mistaking it has been said one our country’s founding fathers” that 100 guilty men should walk free before 1 innocent man goes to jail “

on the idea that a guilty man will repeate his crime and get caught but the odds are he will get away with it 1000,00 if he know what he is doing

and now guilty men walk the streets and innocent people go to jail

dodgemiradalover says:

are you liable

back in june of 2008 we moved into a house in NC and we ordered DSL from Embarq telephone…. well it wasnt the first time we had dsl so i still had the wireless router from when i had the network set up in my trailer in suffolk Va and i let a couple of the neighbors bounce off my wirless signal…. but i personally enterd my private WEP key into their comp’s so that they couldn’t give it out to anyone(cause my modem and router was powered-on 24/7)
Anyway, I thought i had correctly set up my network again to where you needed a WEP key to access my network and the internet but aparently when i had to unplug the router and plug it back in to bridge the router so it would work properly with the new Embarq modem…. the securiy had been disabled, but i didnt realize this until about 2 months ago. i had clicked on my McAfee (manage my network) and when the network tree popped up on screen it showed not only my desktop, and my laptop computer’s…. but it also showed that a DELL, COMPAQ, MacBook, & a GATEWAY were accessing my internet. Thats when i realized my network had not been secured since july..and these 4 people were getting free internet.
So, with the help of Embarq tech support…. i was informed that my modem and router had the same factory set IP address…. so they told me to change router to 192.168.3.1 and I was then able to access my routers control page and restore WEP seurity to my network
but the real fun happend not to long after i was able to get my wep security back up……i got a vist from the police. they had traced child porno downloads to my modems ip and mac address… i informed them that just 2 weeks prior i had discovered that my WEP security was disabled and that 4 unknown comp’s were acccessing my wireless siganl. I told them that a DELL, COMPAQ, MacBook, & a GATEWAY was accessing my DSL without my permission..
of course them being police, they did not believe a word I said and they informed me that all 6 of my comp’s would be confiscated….. i told them i had only 2 and the other 4 they were looking for would found inside the house’s of my neighbors…. not belieing me they ransacked my house looking for the other 4 comp’s.. and they took me and my 2 comp’s in and interigated me…trying to scare me by saying they had found interesting things on my comp’s so that i would confess to the child porno(police are so sneaky).but it didnt work on me and in the end they finally believed me and they where able to get search warrents for the 6 house’s around my house….. because i helped them find the real criminals by disabling my WEP security…. and immediatly after doing so… the same 4 comp’s popped up on my McAfee (manage my network) network tree, proving it wasnt me…. and after getting warrents they hit the houses and found that 2of the 6 house’s had 2 comp each and there was kiddie porn on the 2 of the 4 (both were in same house) said culprit will more than likely serve 60 years without parol….
in conclusion unless you can prove it…. they will hold you responsable (because since My name was on the DSL account they came after my ass first) since then i have changed my WEP security to 64 bit encryption……lol

Marshmallow says:

Taken to Court

Hi

I was interested reading this article as I am going to court next month for being accused of unlawfully accessing confidential information from my home wireless internet provider from my former employers internal computer system. Whilst it may seem that its rather suspicious considering i used to work there, i am not guilty and an deeply distressed by the nmatter. I was infact interviewd by the police who didnt prosecute me because they said that it could not be proved who was sitting behind the laptop which was used in my home. I have tried in vain to get my internet provider to write a report in my defense about the other possibilities i.e. my ip address could have been hacked. THey have chosen to sit on the fence about the whole matter despite them writing a report to the courts that my home ip address was responsible. I risk my reputation being tarnished. is there anything you could advise. I am due to attend court in 2 weeks and have no legal representation due to my policy stating it will not act on my behalf because an illegal act has been practised even if I am innocent. help!

TakeResponsibility says:

TakeResponsibility

It should definitively be your responsibility to secure your wireless network, or else be convicted of criminal negligence should someone use it to commit a crime. It’s hard enough to find cyber criminals as-is, there’s no reason for there to be hundreds of thousands of unsecured wireless networks across the country for them to make themselves even more difficult to find. It literally takes like 5 minutes to configure a home-router, there’s just no excuse.

Anonymous Coward says:

TakeResponsibility

Do all you people work at walmart. The best security can be broke, I can make my computer be your computer, this is, I can manipulate the hardware so as if to clone your PC.
Maybe if everyone turned this dump back into America instead of some welfare scum hole and give the criminals rights and take away rights from the real American, this would not be a problem. As for leaving knives on your yard, if someone comes in your yard and you blow their head off, they won’t do it again. But only your murdering scum government can kill and murder who they want. We have not been attacked by Afghanistan, so what gives this government the right to attack them. It losers like you and your welfare thinking that has destroyed this country, now get back to work so Obama can steal all your money and give all his primates free medical care on the white man.

Ken says:

Agreed

That’s simply not accurate, first of all, a judge doesn’t decide your fate! A randomly chosen jury of your peers does, and you have the option of shaping the final jury selection.
Its not only people with money to hire good lawyers that are found not guilty!
The vast majority of convictions never go to trial, and it’s usually because the accused hasn’t taken the time to understand the law! Generally police will get information leading to conviction by talking with the accused and making them feel as though giving them information will somehow help them (never).
Public Defenders will suggest taking a plea because they have high case loads and don’t want to take a case to trial when the accused messed it up so bad that he has no chance of winning.
If ever people would realize that you simply do not answer any questions ever, when accused of anything, we would have half empty jails and prisons!

Roy says:

Freedom of expression and speech on computer

Well fellas after reading all the comment’s about hacking I think being liable
The judges should throw everything out such as seeing unless someone got murdered or killed behind hacking. A computer Internet is all about sharing and learning. But some hacker’s get a little careless. But until a violent crime that cause by a hacking happened Yes the judge should allow prosecutors to prosecute the hacking killer who killed. So be carefull what you put on the wifi. We hope the judge will see freedoms of expressing and speech. Unless the suprem court ban the Internet and change the constitution that violent crimes have taken over and no one and use the Internet by computer no more and the world is in an up roar and international bind is put on all Internet

Lisa says:

Being virtually abused

I was wondering if anyone ever heard of being physically abused through virtual reality? I do not and never have played anything with virtual reality. But, for quite some time, have been squeezed, pushed, burned, too cold at times, my circulatory system also has been abused, my breath has been held and objects move or fall that I am nowhere near.
I want it stopped, but am not sure how to. Any helpful information would be greatly appreciated.
Also, words are sometimes put in my mom’s or my mouth.

haya says:

liable

I recently was browsing aporn site and unfortunately I landed on a web address which is written in a different language and suddenly my phone was locked and it says I have to pay a fine for infringing a USA law and I am not even residing in USA nor I am a citizen. I did not intend to land on that page or try to promote. Am I liable just because I use a hotspot sheild for un blocking sites from a different country.

ana says:

I'm not so sure..

what if you live in a neighborhood where nobody values others people’s privacy & they go into your network without your permission. i have kids that push the lil wsp button im always afraid someone jumped on my network. maybe paranoia or whatever but I’ve got emails stating copyright & movie downloads as well as screenshots of different ip addresses connected with some user names etc… I’m generous if I’m asked i have no problem I’m a good person looking out for others. but when u do sneaky shit & then call me crazy for thinking that way it’s disrespectful & gonna someone locked up & it sure the hell wont be me cause i AlWAYS have my own bk. no one is to be trusted & thats sad cause people have lost their humanity and their parents showed be them no morals!! I’m 89℅ sure I’m not wrong about my suspicions but as a woman i wait to me confronted. but then again cowards never show face & wont ever apologize. I’m glad i looked this up. knowing back up is key even if hacked i write every date time and ip location & user. plus if fbi gets involved i know they can trace it back to the beginning of time!! no sweat just disappointed in people i thought i loved, respected & cared about. if i didn’t care i would have already reported it/them!!

Jan Apple says:

I'm not so sure..

In southern states, you are guilty until proven guilty as the cops, the prosecuter, and even your defense lawyer will set you up if you are really unlucky.
If you have any disability or medical issue, there is supposed to be a exam to see if the defendant understand or can aid in his own defense. But in southern states, this doesn’t happen much. People in the south go to jail all the time for things they do not do.
Lesson learned the hard way.

Russell Carlson says:

I'm not so sure..

Anyone think or take into account Google they are the biggest cyber criminals on the internet. Google is a always trying to remind us of hacker’s and criminals accessing our accounts. Problems getting a virus, well Google is the biggest and worst virus on the internet. They secretly invade our homes daily with there excuses of we are try to help you by monitoring your internet activity from viruses all the while going through every aspect of our devices. To me it home invasion because I cannot do any thing to stop them. I can’t Uninstall there app if I disable it they create a new one. Scarey

Anonymous Coward says:

my internet has been hacked multiple times due togetting into an issue with a person a bit smarter then me. He has doubled my phone meaning taken everything from my phone and also blanked out things so I could not do factory resets and such its a complete joke. I dont understand how things could be so unprotected. Now he noticed me using another device and has blanked certain features out from my use how do I stop this its very stressful and taken alot of time and effort out trying to protect myself. I was in jail and people were on my facebook and messenger accounts and this was brought to my knowledge by family members so its a bunch of bullshit…

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »