An Illinois man was fined $250 and placed under court supervision for one year for sitting in his car on the street with a laptop and piggybacking off his neighbor’s WiFi connection. I don’t agree with this guy being fined and humiliated like this.

This case is akin to having a neighbor with a really strong sprinkler system (wireless router). If I realize that the sprinkler system sprays beyond his yard (private domain) onto the street (the public domain), I should be able to park my car there and get a free wash. I am technically not stealing the water, just using it. Sure, water isn’t free (neither are high-speed Internet connections), but the neighbor sprayed his water into the public domain and that makes it public.

Of course, if this guy was in his car attempting to gain access to his neighbor’s computer instead of simply getting access to the Internet, then he should get a much more severe penalty. But my understanding is that this was a case of frivolous web-surfing on someone else’s connection. All San Francisco residents have done that once or twice. In any case, I am curious to see how this plays out going forward. Stay tuned.

1 Comment »

  1. Wifi theft is no different from cable theft. It is theft of a service, therefore it is illegal.

    #1 by Darth Chaos — October 19, 2006 @ 3:42 am

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