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Should 'Stealing' Wifi Be A Crime?

Should 'Stealing' Wifi Be A Crime?

A few months ago British police were cautioning people who steal Wifi, now it seems they are really cracking down - even arresting a man for picking up an unsecured Wifi signal. According to the Daily Mail, a 39-year-old man was held after two police community support officers became suspicious when they spotted him using a laptop computer on a garden wall (sounds a little like Humpty Dumpty, doesn't it?).

When questioned, the man admitted to using someone else's unsecured wi-fi broadband connection outside a house. He now faces a fine, six months in prison (or both), under the under section one of the Computer Misuse Act and Section 125 of the Communications Act 2003.

The punishments sound slightly exaggerated and unfounded to me - I mean if people leave their wireless networks unsecured they're almost asking for it. It's like leaving candy on your doorstep and thinking neighborhood kids aren't going to snack on it. What do you think?

Hi1t3k Hi1t3k 9 years
If it's not encrypted or password protected, then it's open to the public, it's pretty much FREE for the taking. If it's encrypted or password protected (as in you have to sign-in), it's probably not FREE for the taking. Breaking past the passwords is in my mind criminal.
kickinthecherries kickinthecherries 10 years
Cafes can secure their network, change the password daily, whatever, if they're worried about people stealing it. Same thing with home users. If you get a wireless router, then you can just call their support if you can't figure it out yourself. The fact is, the unsecure part of it goes both ways. If you're using someone's unsecure network to access personal/financial info, you're leaving yourself at risk for hackers. There are people who go to shops to prove how easy it is to retrieve others' info.
Advah Advah 10 years
This is ridiculous. It's not even stealing, most of time any flat has a neighbour's wifi into all of the rooms; it's just there. And yeah, if it's not password protected it sort of means that people don't mind if someone else uses it.
FiestyRed36 FiestyRed36 10 years
This just goes to show where our priorities are in this country. It's so sad. How many rapists, murderers, drunk drivers, cokeheads and the like go free every day and police are wasting their time catching people using unsecured wireless internet connections. Put a password on your connection if you don't want to share it.
brdwaystarlett brdwaystarlett 10 years
It's all the corporate world's fault. They figure if you can get away with using an unsecured network, you aren't *paying* THEM for it. And THAT is why it's getting to be a big deal, in my opinion. Of course you'll run into a few anal types who would, if they had their way, press charges against a wificrime, whether their connection is secured or not. But, like everyone's said, protect your stuff; feed the conglomerates. I leave my wireless open and welcome anyone to use it.
glamorouswink glamorouswink 10 years
Oh yeah i have wifi and pay a monthly fee, but i lock mine not to be selfish but for security reasons....
glamorouswink glamorouswink 10 years
They should just offer free internet for all, like local television!!!
TheMakeupGirl TheMakeupGirl 10 years
I use my boyfriend's when I am at his house. I guess it's a matter of how the signal is accessed. If it is unprotected (like many of my neighbors), and people are just doing a little surfing then share and share alike, But if someone is sitting outside your house and using your bandwidth to download all types of crazy crap then that's different. Bottom line - if you are worried about it, secure your network and you won't have this problem.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 10 years
I'm such a hypocrite- we put a password on our wireless router, but if our internet goes down, then I steal the free wireless from the Whole Foods next door. Honestly, if we didn't have desktops that need wired connections, I don't think we'd pay for the internet at all. Anyway, I hope to eventually see a day when all major cities have free wireless, like San Francisco.
workofiction workofiction 10 years
I for one think internet should just be free in the first place! I also proudly "hack" into any connection my computer can pick up :)
steen steen 10 years
"I mean if people leave their wireless networks unsecured they're almost asking for it." I'm going to agree with this. It takes a few quick clicks to secure your network if you're so particular about people stealing your bandwidth. You don't have to be a network guru to do it. However, if you're a user and you plan on being bandwidth-heavy, it might do to either find a place that offers free wi-fi or save it until you get home.
laura763 laura763 10 years
Stealing is one thing; I definitely don't think it's right to assume that anyone who doesn't protect their own property is "asking for it" to be used or taken. However, in 99% of internet use, it't not as if people are eating up loads of someone else's bandwidth- I don't consider using someone else's wifi stealing. It seems more similar to a public good, like fireworks - if your neighbor sets them off in their backyard, should you not be allowed to watch them? I mean, sure, if you call all of your friends and family over (or, you know, watch 10 high-resolution streaming videos at once), the yard is going to get pretty overcrowded, but in most cases, your neighbor wouldn't even notice or mind. If they're really against sharing the view, then it's their job to put up a taller fence. Alright, that was way too long an analogy, but you get the idea. :)
tiabia tiabia 10 years
My thought is share and share alike. I have a wireless router , but I decided not to put a password on it and neither have a lot of my neighbors. As long as a person doesn't try to hack into your system, then what's wrong with sharing something!!! Although, I think the man pulling up his car to use wifi is a big over the line, but jail time...that's just a waste of his time, and tax dollars!!!
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
i don't see this as a problem at all. there have been times (like at my cousin's house before i left the country and was really sick) when it has saved me so much just having someone's wi-fi access for a few minutes! seriously, this is crazy. all of ubc is wireless so even people who 1) live on campus but don't attend univ. 2) people who wander into campus etc can use the internet for free. i think this is a much bigger issue, really - should information be privatized? i also see it as unfair that wi-fi people have their "stuff" going through the air all over (same goes for cell phone towers for people who don't have cell phones) - kinda like second hand smoke. a bit extreme? i dunno - i mean, i guess it has been disproved that wi-fi waves are harmful. i password protect mine but mainly because it is so bloody expensive for internet here - i don't think i'd care as much back home.
therack therack 10 years
If they don't have a password on it, then it's fair game. Besides alot of buisnesses offer it for free anyway, like coffee shops.
Linux-Traveler Linux-Traveler 10 years
I don't know about US law. But in France your wifi signal doesn't have to be out of your own walls. Soo if your antenna is too strong it's your fault, not the leaker's one.
sadv sadv 10 years
If people don't want there signal to be picked up then they definitely should have a password.
gophango gophango 10 years
I'm viewing this page right now with stolen wifi. From my bedroom I pick up several unprotected wifi signals. Allowing me to surf the internet without the hassle of a monthly bill. I'll keep doing it until my neighbours smarten up, and hopefully I won't be getting any visits from the cops.
nitronat nitronat 10 years
I think that if people don't intend for people to use their Wifi, they should secure it - and be smart enough to or be smart enough to ask someone to do it for them if they were really paranoid (I know my parents wouldn't be able to do it themselves and may not be paranoid because they wouldn't know about it in the first place probably). I do see the POV that if they unintentionally left it open, maybe it is theft. BUT I don't think people "stealing" WiFi do it long term. They do it when their own secured network isn't working for some reason. At least that's what I do. Then I immediately get back to my own once I get my own working again. ALTHOUGH, people who leave their bikes, etc unlocked do know (at least I assume) the potential consequences of leaving them unlocked. So it should be the same with people with Wifi. I think. haha.
LuciLu LuciLu 10 years
thats insane. passwords people! otherwise, its up for grabs.
Nitrobezene Nitrobezene 10 years
don't they have anything better to do with their time than busting people for using wifi that's not secure? seems dumb to me
ReidMorgan ReidMorgan 10 years
I agree with akosijen, protect your wifi with a password.
TheMissus TheMissus 10 years
Quite frankly... If you are not smart enough to throw a security password on your Wi-Fi signal to prevent others from using it, you have no reason to complain.
c0rkie c0rkie 10 years
i hope it doesnt become illegal worldwide!
KatGamer KatGamer 10 years
If they have hacked a passworded or secured network, crime. If it's open broadcast, not a crime.
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