1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Be careful when using an open WiFi connection you find

Discussion in 'Bits & Bytes' started by tke711, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    I already stated I know and understand how the law interprets it and I agree with you that legally, that is how it is viewed.
  2. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    Dude, I hope you see the difference between a Starbucks and McD's and any other business that ADVERTISES ON SIGNS POSTED OUTSIDE THEIR BUILDINGS that WiFi is available to CUSTOMERS, which is defined as: One that buys goods or services, and a wireless router that someone bought for their HOUSE so that they wouldn't be tripping on cables. Free WiFi at Starbucks is for paying customers, meaning, it's free if you buy something from them. A gimmick - kinda like those $10 gift certificates you get from Circuit City if you buy something from them, or Bonus Time at Clinique, where you get a little bag full of Clinique products if you spend more than a certain amount. Have you ever tried just walking into a Starbucks and turning on your laptop and surf away without buying something? I've seen store managers tell people that the service is only for customers - otherwise, they need to leave.

    And I know all about war-driving and the people who engage in it. You drive around town, with your laptop open and scanning for open networks. It's almost like stalking, it's creepy. If you have to actively scan the area in order to find an open network, it's not exactly being ADVERTISED, is it? That's like a burglar going house to house, jiggeling windows to see if any are unlocked in order to get in. Even if you're just sitting in your house and scanning, you're still running a scan to find an open network. That's entering a network you're not authorized to enter. Period.
  3. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    You don't have to actively do anything in order to listen to the radio being played outside the window. In fact, that is considered "noise" and depending on the time of day, your neighbor can actually be breaking the law for forcing those around him to hear it.

    In order to hook up to your neighbors wireless network, you need to actively SEARCH FOR IT. Sure the WiFi signals are constantly broadcasting - so is everything else (radio, cell phone, wireless phones, etc) - but when you engage in search for it, you've crossed a line.

    I actually looked this crap up on the FCC's website, and found this: http://ftp.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/interception.pdf

    Please read it. Section 705 states that it is prohibited to intercept any radio communication (which wifi is a type of radio transmission) for personal gain/benefit. It also goes on to say that intercepting a transmission for services in which you typically pay for (you typically pay for internet access pretty much any where you go, even libraries which are funded by your taxes) is considered illegal because those types of transmissions are considered PUBLICATIONS. That little PDF pretty much says, in plain english, unless you were AUTHORIZED to receive that transmission, it is prohibited.
  4. cdw

    cdw Ahhhh...the good life.

    Ok, so, let me get this straight. I work real estate. I have my laptop with me. I'm out with clients. If we go and see a number of houses that are not suitable, if I turn on my laptop, it finds a signal, and I look up other houses to go and see, I have now done something illegal?
  5. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, if the signal is coming from a private party. And in your case, you wouldn't know.
  6. cdw

    cdw Ahhhh...the good life.

    Wow. Who knew! I've learned something again! :)
  7. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    Sorry...I'm getting to this discussion late.

    But you're wrong. For the most part, my property is just that - my property. If you don't control your dog, and he craps on my lawn, you could be trespassing. At the very least, you don't have your dog under control, since he's crapping on private property.

    Are you suggesting that if my car is not locked in a garage, it's available for public use? Or if I don't secure my house, is it legal for you to enter? No, it's not. There's a presumption against permission in those cases, as there should be. That is, it's presumed that if you have not explicitly be given permission (by the owner or their designated agent), then you aren't allowed to use the property.
  8. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    If you want to share your wifi, if you give permission, it's easy enough to put up the sign, or just use an SSID like "IamFree" or "ConnectAtWill" or whatever. I've seen access points with names like that.

    But unless there's that kind of explicit permission, I think that using someone else's connection is morally wrong, and I know that it's legally wrong. That doesn't mean I've never done it, and it certainly doesn't mean that I think it should be a felony, for goodness sake!

    But it's pretty clear to me that it's not OK to use somebody else's resource, which they've had to pay for, without their permission...no matter how ignorant or uninformed they may be.

    Starbucks, by the way, does not provide free wifi to anybody--customer or not, at least any of the ones I've been to. I use their wifi all the time, and each time it costs me $10 for a t-mobile day pass. The same goes for my local coffee place, Ozzie's (it's not T-mobile, but you still have to pay). My real favorite coffee place, Gorilla, offers free wifi with purchase. There's a little sign that says so right on the counter.
  9. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    If you haven't paid for the access, yes you've done something illegal. If you're paying for the service (like you have a wi-fi card from Tmobile on your laptop, and you're paying the 80/month service charge for it), no you haven't. If you go into Starbucks and order a coffee and use their WiFi, no you haven't. If you parked in front of a building (a person's house, an office building, a school, etc) and your laptop finds a signal and latches on to the strongest open network AND you start to use your web browser, yes you have.
  10. Andy


    If the owner of the AP is DUMB enough to leave their settings in default and have an SSID blaring out an unencrypted signal (especially with the default like "Linksys" or "NETGEAR") wide open for ANYONE to see and use without having to "hack" anything, then yes.. that is advertising by definition.

    If Micky D's is sooo worried about "non-paying customers" gaining access, then they need to lock it down and put a sign out on the street claiming it's a "paid" WiFi zone for anyone who happens to be driving by with any type of PC that can see a blaring SSID broadcast. (Most places that offer WiFi for $$$ require some sort of interaction and payment to gain said access.. so the argument of just "hooking up to Starbucks/Mickey D's for free" doesn't fly.. sorry.)

    But, It's now illegal to go out and purchase a laptop with a WiFi card, and just turn it on, (like any user with less than a 20th century education in PC's will do), and allow XP to connect to ANY wide open, advertising, free-for-all AP? Wow.

    But Winders allows it by default? The AP manufacturers allow it by default?

    Then perhaps the hardware manufacturers should also be bound by law and clamp down on what they set up the devices to with defaul settings, 'cause I can go out right now and buy both any AP and a WiFi card off the shelf, plug them both in with an IQ of 50, and be "giving" and receiving free WiFi to/from anyone within range.

    These people are out there. I've seen tons of examples within WiFi range of my front door. (and I wasn't using a laptop)

    I am nice enough to point it out to them if I can figure out who they are and help them lock it down. Some are dumb enough to put their names and in once case, their phone # in the SSID broadcast!

    Also, If you are DUMB enough to get caught sitting out front someone's house in the middle of the night jacking into someone's connection for hours, then you too are to stupid to live.

    You cannot compare this to "stealing cable" because by default, you do not need specialized equipment from the provider, "hotboxes" or hacked Sat cards to access WiFi.

    You only require legally purchased receiving equipment that can be found on any shelf of any store that sells PC equipment.
    No license, no subscription, nada.

    My view also is that the onus is on the person setting up their AP.
    Don't want to be broadcasting a wide open signal and advertising your SSID that can be used by the entire neighborhood without any effort whatsoever?

    Learn how to configure your AP or hire some 12 y/o down the street to help, because you're screwing up MY connection and my cordless phones with your ineptitude.
  11. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Not according to the law it isn't. Equipment can not grant permission. A person must. Pure and simple.
  12. tke711

    tke711 Oink Oink Staff Member

    Agreed. To be honest, I'm shocked that we are even having this debate over the legality of using someone else's home connection. I was thinking the discussion would be about the severity of the charges, not the fact that it was a crime to begin with.

    I know that someone a while back said we should stop with analogies, but I'm laying one out anyway.

    Those that are arguing that it's the owners fault, are basing their argument on the fact that he/she didn't secure their network which allowed someone easy access. That is no different then me leaving my front door unlocked. Sure, it's irresponsible of me to do so, but it wouldn't stop the police from arresting someone who walked into my house uninvited and stole something. It also doesn't make me responsible for the crime. The person who came in uninvited is responsible for his actions, not me.

    Using someone else's private internet connection, without their consent, is no different. It's theft, plain and simple. To argue otherwise is to either justify your own behavior, or demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the law.
  13. cmhbob

    cmhbob Did...did I do that? Staff Member

    Not seeing the paid aspect in this story or thread. And that is advertising by definition.

    If the owner of the receiving computer is DUMB enough to leave their settings in default, and connect to any open WiFi connection within range, then that is failure to control their computer, just like in my previous post of failing to control their dog.

    This is a two-way street. Yes, the person running the WAP should secure it. But even if they don't, computer users should be responsible enough to avoid using a privately-owned connection.

    After all, it's just a couple of simple settings in Windows Control Panel, right?

    My view is that the onus is equally on the person running the receiving computer. Don't want to be accused of stealing bandwidth, or illegally accessing a computer system?

    Learn how to configure your computer or hire some 12 y/o down the street to help, because you're stealing MY bandwidth with your ineptitude.
  14. Andy


    Well, I guess that is where our definitions of the words broadcast and advertise differ as far as someone setting up something that anyone can see/access without asking.

    If someone turns on a garden hose in their yard, and leaves it on running full blast 24/7, the water then runs downhill into my empty pool, and flooding my house, am I stealing their water without consent?

    Another paid utility being "broadcast" out for anyone within range to see/use. Don't want your paid water service flooding into your neighbors yard and costing you $?

    Learn how to shut off the tap.
  15. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Broadcast and advertise has no relavence. Permission is the key word, and the individual arrested did not have permission.
  16. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

  17. tke711

    tke711 Oink Oink Staff Member

    That's not even close to a valid analogy.

    Your analogy involves negligence, and the neighbor would be legally responsible for your damages due to their negligence.

    Last I heard, NOT locking down your router to block someone else's illegal behavior is not considered negligence.
  18. Andy


    Fair enough all..

    Just trying to point out that the guy who didn't lock down his AP is equally at fault.

    After all.. if the AP owner hadn't caught the moron leeching out front, and moron who was leeching was running a Kazaa server. whom do you think the RIAA would be sending a lawsuit to?
    Who's door would the the Secret Service be kicking in if certain messages about whacking high level Govt. officials were posted on the web coming from that same IP?

    The IP address user? (i.e. "Mr. Not responsible" according to some here)
    Or some untraceable random who was driving by and cloned his MAC to something else and that won't ever be caught because he moved on ands re-cloned days ago?
    I wonder how far that will get him on court day and all court expenses wiped.? :thumbsup:
  19. Biker

    Biker Administrator Staff Member

    Honestly? If he can prove it, then the RIAA wouldn't have a case would they? They couldn't prove that he was the actual downloader of the files.
  20. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    They don't need to. They just need to prove it came from his IP address and that he was the one responsible for the service. That's why all those parents of children who had no idea their children were downloading are still in trouble. Otherwise the teens of America would continue to download and the RIAA wouldn't be able to get much from their lawsuits since children under 18 don't tend to have much money.

Share This Page