Is borrowing free wifi stealing?

“A man has been arrested after being spotted allegedly sitting in a street with a laptop using someone else’s unsecured wireless connection. Is it immoral to do this?”

This BBC article made me laugh. It must’ve been a slow day for the coppers in that area for them to resort to arresting cheeky wifi thieves.

Couldn’t help but pipe up on the topic. I personally don’t think it should be considered a crime to nick somebody else’s open wireless connection. Now, I’m not condoning using your neighbour’s connection to do your illegal bidding or max out the connection on BitTorrent, but the occasional browsing via your phone or laptop when you’re in another area where the nearest legit hotspot is miles away, it’s a pretty inoffensive activity.

What no one has mentioned so far is the risk of using an open connection. It’s quite possible for someone to setup a wireless connection as a trap for naive people who choose to use it for online banking, online shopping or logging in to email and other accounts. Snap their details on it’s way to the World Wild Web and you’ve got yourself some very useful personal information to pay for your next shopping spree.

Now, to the real guilty party – If you’re enough of a doofus to leave your wifi open, you should expect somebody to borrow the connection. In fact, if you’re that doofus, pay your router a little visit and go stick a nice little password on there. It takes 5 minutes and it stops the freeloaders.

3 thoughts on “Is borrowing free wifi stealing?

  1. Chris

    Yes, I laughed too, though I do feel sorry for the poor wireless ‘thief’. There needs to be a way for people who are happy to offer their wireless to all and sundry of announcing that fact, so that the freeloaders can poach without fear of being arrested for it. Seriously, if you are leaving your wifi open, you are either happy about that fact or too lazy to read your manual, in which case why should the freeloader be punished… for taking advantage of what could quite reasonably be mistaken as a freely-offered connection?

  2. tovel

    It borders on invasion of privacy, though here in the cyber sense but so much could go wrong in an unscrupulous person decided to use your wifi to do their dirty works and it all comes abck to you or if they use it to hack into your personal finacial information.

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