The Legalities of Stealing Wi-Fi Internet

Maybe you’re not so inclined to fork out the big bucks for a mobile broadband connection. Maybe you’ve got an unlocked iPhone in Canada and you’re not prepared to pay the inordinate monthly fees for wireless data. Whatever the case, it’s awfully tempting to, ahem, “borrow” some free Internet from an unsecured Wi-Fi network in your area. This is particularly true when you are on vacation.

If you stop and think about it, though, what are the legal ramifications surrounding the “stealing” of Wi-Fi from your neighbors? According to Lev Grossman of Time Magazine, being a Wi-Fi thief is a crime and it is in direct violation of Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 47 of the United States Code.

According to TechDirt, if someone leaves their network unsecured, they are implicitly granting permission for anyone to make use of that access point. Cracking someone’s WEP or WPA-protected network, on the other hand, is a totally different matter altogether.

I’m inclined to agree with TechDirt. If you don’t want people “stealing” your interwebz, the onus is on you to protect your wireless access point.


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