free wifi?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by DJ88, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. DJ88 macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2007
    Downtown Miami
    Whas up guys I'm typing this from my newly purchased iPhone at my girlfriends house but something has me confused. I activated this at home and at home I could only surf on edge and any nearby wifi networks were password protected. So I come to my girlfriends house and I'm surprised to see she has two wifi networks at her house for free! I'm pretty bummed because at my house I'm stuck with edge while here (where I can barely use it) my girlfriend is blessed with free wifi! How does her house get it and mine doesn't? I don't know to much about wifi so excuse me if this is a dumb question. Thanks!
  2. janey macrumors 603


    Dec 20, 2002
    sunny los angeles
  3. siurpeeman macrumors 603


    Dec 2, 2006
    the OC
    yeah, there aren't free wireless networks everywhere you go. at least not yet anyway. your neighbors are wise to lock their wireless networks. you could just hang out at your girlfriend's.
  4. korndog2003 macrumors regular


    May 31, 2007
    Keyser, WV, USA
    Its just that people in your gf's neighbor hood have wireless routers. You can buy one for your house if you have dsl or cable, they are pretty cheap. Heres a nice one for $40

    Some people password them and others don't know how or just don't
  5. kevinwiz macrumors regular

    Feb 1, 2007
    her house gets it from her neighbors... why is this surprising?
  6. EricNau Moderator emeritus


    Apr 27, 2005
    San Francisco, CA
    Yes, the "free wifi" you speak of is more accurately unprotected wifi. They are simply neighbor's wireless networks that were not secured with a password.

    They may be free for you, but her neighbors are definitely paying for them.

    ...It should also be noted that accessing other's networks and using their internet connection may be illegal.
  7. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    Not to hijack, but I got into an interesting debate with a lawyer friend about this yesterday. She was arguing that morally and ethically it is wrong, but legally it's a bit tougher to prosecute since the injured party (the neighbor) needs to prove their wifi was being stolen. Which means they'd need to be savvy enough to track who was accessing their internet, which would mean they'd be protecting their internet anyhow. An interesting catch-22.

    But it's still wrong, even if you don't get caught this time. Don't steal. Not cool.
  8. Noumenon macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2007
    If someone without my consent invades my house with a signal, i will send one back in kind. :D (j/k)

    For the thread starter,...
    WiFi is a short range signal, weak and operated by a store, library or household etc, EDGE is long range operated by phone/data companies.
  9. megfilmworks macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2007
    Sherman Oaks
    I did confirm that I had free att wifi and every McDonalds I went to.
  10. bravedeer macrumors member

    Nov 14, 2006

    Sad to hear you went to McDonalds :/
  11. princealfie macrumors 68030


    Mar 7, 2006
    Salt Lake City UT
    I presume illegal even though the signal is over public property? That would be making it for public domain if the signal can be caught over public land.
  12. plumbingandtech macrumors 68000

    Jun 20, 2007
    jiwire just made an iphone version

    shows free and legal (as well was paid) hot spots.
  13. marksman macrumors 603


    Jun 4, 2007
    Yeah some people have actually been arrested for doing this. Although I clearly think the computer trespassing laws are being horribly misapplied in this case, and would never withstand a real court challenge.

    It is trivially easy for someone to make their network non-accessible to anyone who just wants to connect. In my opinion if you don't do that modicum of protection, you are essentially inviting anyone who wants to, to use it.

    How is one supposed to know who owns what WiFi and what they are allowed to use and not use? I was at a baseball stadium in Houston this past weekend. I had multiple choices of WiFi in the stadium. One of them was locked, one was not locked. I hooked up to the unlocked one with my iPhone and used it the whole game. I don't know if that was the one for the stadium or not. Could have been some business next door.

    For me, if it is open and accessible I will assume they want me to use it. It is not like it is difficult to lock a wifi network from access. Yes it is easy to crack MAC-Address locking and WEP, for example , but doing so would show an intent to break into something that was not intended for public use. Just connecting to an open network with some mysterious name... sorry, that is just not going to hold up as being a crime. Especially when many places provide free WiFi access.
  14. aerospace macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2007
    Heard of a guy who went to a restuarant's parking lot who offered free wifi to thier customers(checked his email) and he had a $500 fine to pay. It was ruled even though the service was free, the implied right to use it was for paying customers even though that was not posted anywhere. Just because you dont lock something up doesnt give anyone the right to steal it.
  15. Akira1980 macrumors 6502


    May 27, 2007
    San Diego
    Yes but iPhone insistes that you steal it... Almost. Everytime it lists the wifi network in your area and asks you to join. And it's really hard to say no and go to EDGE when you know WiFi is avaliable.
  16. rjphoto macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2005
    the local coffee/smoothie shop I usually go to has "Free" WiFi, but it is locked. You need the WEP Key that they keep on a scrap piece of paper in the cash register.

    Another one close by has it taped to the wall next to the cash register. A few months ago theirs was down, but they suggested sitting close to the window and you could pick up one from across the street...
  17. Rojo macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2006
    This is an interesting thread, as I've always wondered about stumbling upon non password-protected wifi somewhere -- and what it means to potentially access it. You can find a TON of "free" wifi here in NYC -- and it's hard to tell if it's from a nearby business, from a person who just has their signal unlocked, or what.

    I was using an Airport for over a year, when I had mutliple computers. I only use one computer now, and my internet seems faster when I don't use the Airport, so I don't really use it much anymore. But when I WAS using it, I never password-protected my signal. That may have been really stupid of me, for security reasons (anyone willing to say HOW stupid, please feel free to explain) -- but I've always been of the mind that if you have wifi, why not share it? I wish more people did this, actually. Call me crazy. How wonderful would it be if free wi-fi was available almost everywhere? (Especially for you iPhone users!)

    I know people get really upset about the idea of some people paying for wifi, while others try and leech off other people's wifi. I don't know why, but this has never really bothered me. Once I get my laptop back (it's currently being borrowed for a while), I might switch my Airport on again and not password-protect my signal -- because I like the idea of others being able to use my wifi if needed. I like the idea of sharing. (In reality, in my current living situation -- there's probably not many other people that could. But I just like the idea of that, and wish more people felt the same).

    Again, I don't know the whole security issue -- so I'm sure someone here might have a good enough warning as to why I shouldn't do this. I never had a problem before, but don't want one in the future either. Actually, there's someone in my area whose wifi network is called "Your computer is being hacked" -- which freaked me out the first time I saw it. It's been around forever, and you can see it on many other computers in the area -- so I'm beginning to think it's just a clever name someone gave their network, so that other people wouldn't bother trying to join it... ;)
  18. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    I quite like the idea of sharing my bandwidth for neighbours too (provided it's only occasionally, for light usage).

    But it is quite risky; not only in terms of them gaining access to anything on your PC, but also visiting sites through your network which might catch the attention of the law (terrorism, child porn etc.).
  19. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    The trouble with random hotspots is that you don't always know what you're getting into. There are hacker websites dedicated to setting up unprotected hotspots that they can use to attempt to capture people's passwords and other data.

    As for legality, there's no doubt that it's stealing if you use a neighbor's hotspot without asking.

    The argument that the signal passes their property lines is bogus. Yes, you can legally "listen in", but you have no right to transmit back into their house and over their paid broadband.

    Any court will easily find that you knew, or should've known, that someone else was paying for the service you were using. I doubt there's anyone in the world who doesn't know that, in fact.

    The only question is: how do you know when a site really is meant to be free? Unprotected isn't good enough. The iPhone more or less advertises itself as a criminal device, alas. Just use any free hotspot, they say. Wonderful in some towns, not so wonderful elsewhere.

    Now what would've been a real breakthrough device, would've been if Apple had gone in cahoots with the WiMax people, and used long distance WiFi for both data and VOIP. I say roll out free WiFi everywhere and charge a federal tax for it. Yeah, right. :rolleyes:
  20. megfilmworks macrumors 68020


    Jul 1, 2007
    Sherman Oaks
    Good response! Although I must admit to a late night raid once in a while, in this case I have been driving through every McDs parking lots. Think of it as emergency wifi.
  21. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    As someone else pointed out, you'll feel good doing that right up until the FBI breaks down your door because some jerk used your WiFi to download child porn.

    Not quite the same thing, but a friend went through hell for two years because someone stole his credit card number (most likely from a purchase he made from Hong Kong) and used it to buy a child porn domain name. The FBI woke him and his family up early one morning and took all his computers (and trampled the house) gathering "evidence". It took two years to determine what actually had happened and he sued and won quite a bit, since he lost his business because of this.

    Now imagine trying to prove that it wasn't you on your WiFi. You'll get off if your disks are clean, but it'll take a while and your equipment will be lost forever.

    Extreme case, yes. But if I were living in NYC...
  22. Me1000 macrumors 68000


    Jul 15, 2006

    you people need to lighten up!
    there is a difference between stealing wifi and borrowing it.
    I do not condone sitting at home leaching a neighbors wifi without his/her knowledge. Especially if you do it just because you don't want to pay for your own internet access!

    however if the owner is going to leave the wifi open, who gives a crap whether you get on to check something real fast. (like email, or macrumors ;) )
    again as long as you are not in your house, or some place similar.

    in which case he is fully protected!
  23. Rojo macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2006
    Good point...

    What are you saying!! That NYC is filled with pedophiles?? :eek:
    Murderers and thieves, maybe! Would-be terrorists, sure!
    But I'm sure we have far less child-porn lovers here than in other places across the U.S.

    (I have no facts to back this up -- just want to feel like NYC is better for something.) :D

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