Wireless Internet Access

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by msharpmu, Jul 13, 2007.

  1. msharpmu macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    #1
    Help! I am stuck in the middle of a debate. Is it illegal or legal to use other peoples unsecured wireless signals? I would appreciate legit laws but opinions are fine too. If someone could attach a source I would be real appreciative.
     
  2. Vidd macrumors 6502a

    Vidd

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    #2
    Here's one.
    I suppose it depends on where you live but it's probably illegal in most places.
     
  3. dpaanlka macrumors 601

    dpaanlka

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    #3
    There are some things about this I do not fully understand. Firstly, if you are publicly broadcasting a network, how can it be illegal to use it, even if accidentally? Is there any case where tuning into a publicly broadcast radio transmission is illegal?

    Secondly, it is so easy to accidentally do this. I've often gone to people's houses and noticed their computers were connected to their neighbors networks. In fact, occasionally I notice that my Mac has switched from my network to my neighbors, such as when I reboot my router.

    Shouldn't it be entirely the responsibility of network owners to secure their networks? If you are inside your own home, and you can access a network, how can that be argued as illegal?
     
  4. msharpmu thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    #4

    I could not agree with you anymore. Great explanations as well. However, what we think is probably different than the actual law.
     
  5. gavd macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    #5
    Here's a story from April this year in the UK about people who were arrested and cautioned for using someone else's wi-fi.

    Myself, I think dpaanlka raises some good points. If you don't want people to use your network, then secure it.
     
  6. strider42 macrumors 65816

    strider42

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2002
    #6
    Well, its different than a public radio broadcast, I don't think that's a good analogy. No matter how many people tune into a radio broadcast, it doesn't degrade the service to any one else.

    With internet, that's not the case. Every user that uses someone elses wireless internet degrades their service.

    I'd also point out that radio broadcasts are free to end users, but with wireless internet, someone is paying for it. So you are degrading a service that they pay for. Theres also a difference in how the spectrum is licensed so its really not similar at all.

    I also don't buy the argument that its the network owners responsibility to secure the network. Why should someone have to go out of their way to keep people off their network. its their network. They should be able to set it up however they want without anyone else infringing on it. I say its the users responsibility to see if they are allowed to use that signal. Its not a very good analogy i know, but just because I didn't lock my door doesn't mean you can come in and use my stuff.

    All that said, most of the time, its not a big deal. If your just passing through and pick up a signal, there's probably little harm done. If your computer accidentally picks up a signal of your neighbor, not a huge deal. If its a once in a while thing, its probably not a big deal. But lets not pretend you aren't using something without permission that someone else is paying for. But if you intentionally leach off your neighbors signal all the time, maybe you should offer to help him pay for it. If you are constantly sitting outside a coffee shop without buying anything, I think that's a little suspect as well, since you are leaching off them when they are offering it as a way to attract customers (just go in and buy a coffee for crying out loud).
     
  7. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    #7
    Think of running an unsecured wireless network as being like not locking your front door. Sure, I could go into your house and use your phone, and as long as I don't touch anything else, what's the harm? But unless you put up a sign saying anyone's welcome, I wouldn't do it.

    That said, we have a neighbour with an unsecured wireless network, and we've connected to it a few times accidentally (but not since I set airport to use only preferred networks).

    We only noticed when downloads were taking a quarter of the time they normally do ... while we're stuck on 1.5Mb/s DSL because AT&T don't offer our neighbourhood anything faster, the neighbour appears to have 6Mb/s download. It can't be the local city-run cable - it maxes out at 2Mb/s. Quite annoying, and I'm tempted to use it. I only wish I knew what ISP they are using. I would pay for it gladly, but I don't know who the neighbour is.
     
  8. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #8
    I consider it borrowing bandwidth. What physical product are you stealing? I would only begin to question the borrowing of bandwidth if you are running a business through it.
     
  9. dpaanlka macrumors 601

    dpaanlka

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    #9
    Completely different, because in this case (at least, in the case of neighbor-to-neighbor), your network is coming into my house. A better analogy (ahh so many analogies) might be someone walking into my house with a portable CD player playing music, but me not being able to legally listen to it because I didn't pay for it.

    I think, at the very least, using someone else's unsecured network that has invaded your house should be perfectly legal. Whether or not it is, I do not actually know.

    OK, even better analogy:

    My neighbor has Sirius or XM satellite radio unit on their home stereo. They are blasting a satellite radio station (that they pay for) so loudly that I can hear it in my house. Is it illegal for me to listen to it because I don't pay for it? It's being publicly broadcast into my house, after all. And what about iPod FM transmitters? What if this person has an iPod FM transmitter that I can pick up with a radio in my house, or even from my car (sitting in traffic)... is that illegal too?
     
  10. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603

    GimmeSlack12

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2005
    Location:
    San Francisco
    #10
    I think you're on the right track. In the great analogy game I would add to dpaanlka's thought that you would have control of what channel you listened to on XM radio.

    Overall, I think that since no property is being taken and withheld that there is nothing wrong going on. Or the idea that it is up to the neighbors discretion to block the signal or not (what if he means to let others use his signal?).
     

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