Friday, April 22, 2011

Is it a crime to poach on an unsecured wireless network?

Here’s another discussion of whether it’s illegal to point your laptop to an open Internet WiFi connection without password requirement, on Wired, by Ryan Sigel, link here

Remember the Michigan man prosecuted in 2006 for sitting outside a coffee shop, using the wireless, and never buying anyting?

But the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, USC 1030, (Cornell website url text ) might be construed as making this a prosecutable crime.  Theoretically, the way the iPhone operates might be in violation of the Act.

In the mid 1980’s, as I recall from my job in Dallas at the time (Chilton), states and the federal government (as did Texas in 1985) were concentrating on mainframe computer crime.

In practice,  wireless network owners (including at home) should require passwords to prevent possible criminal abuse by others up to a few hundred yards away.  MiFi devices usually require passwords or long pin codes (assigned to individual devices) for use. 

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