Q:

Should you steal wireless Internet?

A:

People should not "steal" Internet connections as this practice is illegal in many places. Some argue it is immoral as well. However, a 2008 study revealed that 54 percent of respondents in the United Kingdom admitted to using an unsecured wireless connection without permission. Eric Bangeman of Ars Technica argues such a practice is innocuous.

A man was arrested for using another person's wireless network in 2005 in Florida, one of the first cases of such an offense being prosecuted, and an Illinois man was arrested and fined $250 in 2006 for using an unsecured network without permission. A man from Michigan who used a cafe's Wi-Fi connection from his parked car was charged in 2008 with "fraudulent access."

Graham Cluley, a consultant for computer security company Sophos, says stealing Internet access may feel like a victimless crime, but it deprives Internet service providers of revenue. Bangeman considers this "silliness." He argues that using an open wireless network is not stealing and compares it to listening to the radio or watching television using rabbit-ear antennas. However, it is best to avoid breaking the law. Internet users considering this action to surf the web should check local laws and regulations.


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