soaking up a bit of wi-fi could be illegal

An Illinois county decides that piggybacking up on someone’s elses wi-fi is against the law.

David M. Kauchak, 32, pleaded guilty this week in Winnebago County to remotely accessing someone else’s computer system without permission, the Rockford Register Star newspaper reported. A Winnebago County judge fined Kauchak $250 and sentenced him to one year of court supervision.

I suspect that there are few war chalkers anymore. However, there may be lots of individuals who free ride on their neighbour’s Internet. I find this criminalization of Internet “entrepreneurialism” a bit creepy. Exactly what offense is this, sucking up radio waves? Aren’t we supposed to be cheering on innovative uses of the Internet as part of the new economy? Not to mention, this search for minor offenders takes away from looking for serious criminals.

This reminds me of the filmV for Vendetta. Will we have surveillance trucks patrolling our streets looking for the minor infractions? Call me paranoid (okay, I have been thinking about the movie too much), but what else can they listen for?

One Response to “soaking up a bit of wi-fi could be illegal”

  1. liam says:

    I can’t recall exactly where I read it, but I believe I read that in Canada knowingly using someone else’s bandwidth without their permission isn’t kosher. In many ways, this makes sense, many ISPs have a bandwidth fee they can charge if you’re above a certain level of usage, I certainly would not be happy to get hit with a $20 fee because a couple of people happened to want to download their linux distros with my internet.

    Not having a laptop, I can’t say this has ever been much of an issue directly for me, although when setting up wireless routers for friends it’s generally a question I ask them: “Do you want to let other people use your internet?”, the answers run the gamut, but when they’re ok with it I typically name the access point something that makes it clear that it’s ok for passerby to use the router.

    It seems vaguely wrong (a la walking through a yard without a fence) to just (ab?)use the ignorance of others.