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Author Topic: Wireless and the law  (Read 6395 times)

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Elena

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Wireless and the law
« on: November 27, 2006, 10:05:32 AM »

Is there anything illegal about using someone else's wireless connection with their permission? 

From this question you may gather that new iMac is up and running, (except for email, I need to gird my loins to call Mindspring.) - I love it.

Elena
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Bob Mueller

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2006, 02:03:40 PM »

With their permission is completely legal.
 
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Elena

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2006, 03:16:46 PM »

Thank you Bob - I am reassured.
Elena
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Susan August

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2006, 03:44:58 PM »

So, what is the legal position on without their permission?  We have a neighbor who has not secured their wireless and our laptops log right on there.  We just went wireless ourselves, so don't need the access, but this weekend we discovered that my mother has a wireless modem for her DSL and it is also not secure...since we never even noticed the wireless antenna hiding there before!  So she may be providing access to her neighbors.  Should we care?

Susan
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Caro

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2006, 04:16:30 PM »

I would like to know this, too, as my daughter is currently logging on via her neighbor's link, all unbeknownst to whomever it may be.

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Joyce S

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2006, 07:13:18 PM »

So, what is the legal position on without their permission?  We have a neighbor who has not secured their wireless and our laptops log right on there.  We just went wireless ourselves, so don't need the access, but this weekend we discovered that my mother has a wireless modem for her DSL and it is also not secure...since we never even noticed the wireless antenna hiding there before!  So she may be providing access to her neighbors.  Should we care?

Susan

If your mother doesn't mind AND her information is secure, it really is up to her to decide whether she wishes to provide this "service" to anyone within range -- and that could include drive-bys.

I, however, suspect the integrity of someone who would use another person's wireless without seeking permission. Even if you don't know who it belongs to, you do know that it doesn't belong to you!

I would be concerned whether MY information would be secure if I were to use another person's wireless, with or without their permission.

My 3-cents' worth.

Joyce
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Susan August

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2006, 08:49:12 PM »

I did some googling and reading since I posted this and apparently at least one person (in Florida) has been prosecuted for using another person's wireless access.  In that case, the person was parked in a car in front of their house...which is a bit bizarre to begin with.  In any case, it seems that there is a lot of complexity in the law and I wasn't able to find out if it is state or federal law.  I suspect some of it is tied to federal terrorism law, as well.  I think prosecution may depend a lot on who is the complainant.  So, an internet provider might think they are damaged by someone using/sharing another service, or the owner of the connection may think that you are 'using their bandwidth'.  There was also some commentary on the responsibility of the owner of the unsecured connection, who could be liable for the actions of the 'trespasser' if the trespasser goes online and does things that are otherwise illegal.  The whole thing makes my head spin, particularly knowing that 'everyone is doing it.'  But then, that was never really an effective defense....kind of like saying you didn't know the law.

Any more learned assessments from MWFers are welcome.

Susan
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Bob Mueller

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2006, 10:33:03 PM »

There was also some commentary on the responsibility of the owner of the unsecured connection, who could be liable for the actions of the 'trespasser' if the trespasser goes online and does things that are otherwise illegal.
I think this is a key thing, and the biggest reason I have my wireless connection secured, even though the house is 200 feet from the road (you'd have to be in my driveway to use it, if you could get the signal through the brick walls).

You can't assume that someone with an unsecured access point wants to share it. They may not know how to secure it. I think it's rather like finding an unlocked door. Would you assume you can enter an unsecured house without permission?

Most ISP's will let you share your connection, but I think there's an implicit responsibility issue there. They're assuming you're not letting every person in the neighborhood use it, but they're also assuming you would let guests in your house use it.

If you let too many people use it, and someone does some major downloading, you might find your speeds are capped, since you'll be considered a bandwidth hog.
 
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Elena

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2006, 09:51:16 AM »

Talked to a chum who is an attorney and technogeek.  He says that so far as he knows there are no laws specifically against the unauthorized use of an individual's wireless on private property - however - if something happens in the commission of same that interests the officials, then they can find charges.

Starting with loitering, if they are actually sitting outside your home; going on to what use they are making of their connection?  If they are already known to the authorities in a negative sense, and he rattled on, including attempts to hide drug dealings, set up scams, domestic violence . . . wish he had time to write mysteries!

Much the same as if someone went into your unlocked home and used your phone for illegal activities.  You'd be in quite a spot trying to prove that it wasn't you who made the calls, since they originated there.

On the other hand, what about all the coffee shops and libraries and hotels that offer free wireless?  Quite a lovely source of wireless if you happen to have a technologically advanced bad guy.  ::)

Elena



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Caro

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2006, 11:40:27 AM »

Just checked with my daughter only to discover that since she's moved she's now in the "hot spot" for wireless use, which covers most of the downtown area.  I, alas, am too far north in our fair city.  So that's that. No more worries.

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Ingrid

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2006, 02:19:20 PM »

So how do you know someone is using your wireless access and that it's unsecured?

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Bob Mueller

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2006, 03:22:13 PM »

So how do you know someone is using your wireless access and that it's unsecured?

Ingrid
AS far as securing it, you should have some sort of login screen, where you can set up the controls on the Wireless Access Point. Typically, you'd point your browser to some IP address like 192.168.0.X. That IP range (192.168.X.X) is usually reserved for computers within your own network. The X would be specific to your hardware; in my case, I go to 192.168.0.50. From there, the screens are going to vary by manufacturer. You'd want to look for something like WEP or Encryption.

For access, you'd be able to see from the device logs who has been connecting when, and go from there.
 
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Elena

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2006, 04:58:31 PM »

Quote
how do you know someone is using your wireless access

The most common way you find out, at least in my fair college city, is if someone gets on your wireless and does a ton of downloading of videos and/or music.  Your provider will notice the traffic jam on the band width and ask you to cease and desist.  Then you secure your line, the pop culture junkie has to go elsewhere, and all is fine.

I asked at my library about the free wireless they offer and they told me they have software that monitors bandwidth usage and will automatically shut down someone who is using excess.  They tell me the University does the same thing.

As far as ordinary usage such as email, or internet, it appears there really is no way to know, nor does anyone care.  It also appears that there is no way to access your wireless "host's" computer even if you are both on at the same time.  Which indicates no currently known security risk. 

Elena

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Susan August

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2006, 05:03:23 PM »

To see whether networks are secured or not, you can just look at "View available wireless networks" (of course this may vary based on your operating system).  That will bring up your network and all others near you.  They will say either 'secured' or 'unsecured'.  Also if they are computer to computer/peer to peer, that is different, not access to the internet but only from one computer to another.  I've never looked at the log, not sure where to find it, but then I've had mine secured, so I hope there would be no surprises there.  Guess I should check that for my mom.

When I first did the wireless setup, there was a wizard to walk me through the steps to secure it.

My daughter is in college and when she uses Skype to call international friends with her webcam she exceeds her bandwidth quota and the school shuts her down! 

Susan
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Ingrid

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Re: Wireless and the law
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2006, 05:15:01 PM »

Ah, thank you all.  Bob, numbers don't register for me.  My brain rejects all numbers. I can look up internet access. Mine was set up by a friend who was walked through by a Verizon person -- and yes, it seems I have a password and all that. Now don't ask me what it is.  :)

Ingrid

P.S.  I thoroughly applaud computers and the internet;  I just don't want to strain my brain too much with this stuff.
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