Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




Here Comes The Bigger Debate On The Legality Of Open WiFi Usage

from the this-ought-to-be-pointless dept

Earlier this week, we pointed to the story of a man in Florida being charged as a felon for simply using an open WiFi network. That was based on a locally published news story in Florida, but that story went big yesterday when the Associated Press wrote up an account of it leading to a much bigger discussion (and a few people submitting it here, even though we'd written about it earlier in the week). Most of the new coverage has just rewritten the original story, but News.com has a more detailed question and answer discussing all the legal questions associated with accessing open WiFi, and concluding, basically, that it's an open question. Of course, some people have been having this discussion for years. In the end, the real question is what is being "lost" here. In most cases, absolutely nothing -- which is why it's hard to consider using an open WiFi access point as "theft." In fact, some (though, not many) ISPs consider it a good idea and downright neighborly. The actual laws on the matter are way too vague -- but looking at the reality of the situation should lead people to recognize that this is not theft at all.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Notacop, 11 Jul 2005 @ 7:02pm

    Re: How do you tell

    Mike,
    the only problem with the spotlight idea is that of Satellite TV.


    Direct TV sends satellite signal all over the US and it flows over into canada and mexico.


    Those in canada and mexico cannot LEGALLY subscribe to the service.


    If they get equipment they can decode the signals that are bombarding them.


    Are they stealing service?


    DTV is not out anything as they are sending the signal anyway.

    There is no lost revenue because they cannot become subscribers.

    I am not sure how I stand on this one.


    As far as what he was doing on the network if it was standard internet browsing then I see no problem.

    If he used the wifi to try and browse files on the computer to get bank info, or anything like that at all then I would see a legal issue.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.