Is using someone else's wireless network illegal?

We just got a new laptop, but no Internet for it yet. Then when we tried searching for a wireless network, and it picked up a linksys router, obviously one of our neighbor’s. We don’t know who, but when we take the laptop outside on the deck, we get very good connectivity. I don’t really think this is right, but is it legal without them knowing, whoever it is around our house that has a wireless Internet router and we just happen to be able to pick up the signal?

That you have to ask whether stealing service from a customer and his ISP is a crime is just unfathomable.

Were you planning to use his bandwidth to upload videos to the web, as asked in your other post in this forum?

Want me to tell you how to steal their phone service too?

Well I ain’t going to.

As far as I know, it’s sort of a grey area.

The way I see it: Security is extremely easy to turn on. It’s in the instructions TO turn it on. Therefore, if absolutely no efforts are made to secure the connection, the owner is willing to allow others to use it (within the limits of the law, and definitely NOT as your primary connection.) But if you have to defeat any sort of security (WAP key cracking, MAC spoofing, etc) you are not welcome. I’ve had to drive around and find an unsecured connection to do simple stuff (look up an address or phone number) But I make sure that I’m only on it for a second… And if I find that their network is open and files or printers are being shared, I sure as heck don’t touch them (and if I knew whose network it was, I would alert them)

Of course, the best way is to simply ask permission.

So stealing a dime is ok…just don’t steal a dollar.

Is that right?

Who is St_ides stealing from? The cable company? Only if he is using his neighbors connection instead of using them for his ISP. The owner of the connection? Only if he is using it enough to impact the owners use of the connection?

My roomates brother (computer geek) bought over his wireless computer and managed to find four unsecured wireless machines in our apartment complex. He didn’t probe to see what was on the computers, but thought it would be wickedly funny to install a program in the startup to notify people that they were being watched by the NSA. Didn’t do it, but I was surprised by how easy it was…

You are arguing that using someone elses internet connection is ok?

Can I move next to you?

Reeder, are you going to do anything more than asking rhetorical questions?

I think most people would agree that it is morally wrong to use someone else network connection without their explicit permission. However the question of whether or not it is specifically illegal is another one entirely. Can you actually answer it?

No I am saying that what St_Ides is talking about is not stealing. I want you to tell me who he has harmed with what he has done.

No, I was using our main computer that is hooked up to cable Internet. But right now I am on the laptop because I am about to install a printer driver for it. I don’t normally use the laptop, but my sister does. She downloads music and talks on MSN Messenger on it.

I give up.
It seems y’all believe taking something you didn’t pay for is ok.

Reeder: Just out of curiosity, what are your opinions on copying, copyright, and IP?

I can copy what I own…I can’t copy what you own,


So you can’t provide any cite to show that using someone elses connection is illegal?

The ethical issues aside, I don’t think it’s illegal.

Technically, he’s deprived an ISP of service fees since he’s not paying an ISP for access…the same way that you’re depriving the cable company of monthly fees if you tap into the neighbor’s cable.

Thing is, there are wireless access points all over big cities that are left open on purpose so people can get wireless access for their laptops. It’s not illegal to leave your wireless network open as far as I know. There’s nothing in my ISP’s subscription agreement prohibiting it. I have mine set up so that if someone stopped their car in front of my house, they could access the internet. They’d almost have to be in my driveway, but they could do it.

My router will even allow me to restrict the bandwidth to the wireless connections so that file sharing would be almost impossible, but still allow for a quick e-mail check.

I don’t believe this.

Members in good standing on this board believe it’s ok to to use a service in which they are not entitled to use.

Says a lot about you doesn’t it.
I believe I am entitled to call you thieves.

Which is what you are.

Well, if he happens to use someone’s connection and it has a download limit (such as mine does), then he is harming that person by taking some of their download allowance. I pay an axtra 15c per M if I go over my download limit, so its not like the impact is huge, but the fact is that what he is doing may have some impact on someone else. Therefore it is ethically wrong.

Is it illegal though? Reeder seems to think so, and it would make sense if it was, but no cites as yet.

Societies have prohibitions against theft not because the thief is getting something but because the victim loses something. So yes, taking something you didn’t pay for can be OK. Similarly, I give stuff away that I don’t get paid for, especially when it doesn’t mean losing anything. Anybody in my vicinity with wi-fi can use my connection. I am clued in enough to protect myself against intrusion and so long as they don’t slow my connection down while I’m using it and my ISP doesn’t cap my monthly downloads, I intend to keep doing this.