April 21, 2011 Papooh

Is Wi-Fi Squatting Illegal?

Y our probably one of those people that carry’s his/her laptop or tablet everywhere and like to be online whenever possible. You see an open wireless connections called dlink or linksys and you jump on to check your facebook or your email.

Were you breaking the law?

Is it Legal?

Over at the Business Technology Blog at the Wall Street Journal Online, Ben Worthen discusses the legality of wi-fi squatting and finds that while it’s illegal in the UK, it’s not a federal offense in the US. Some states, including Michigan, Florida, Illinois, and Washington, have laws that make the practice illegal.

Is it Ethical?

Way back in 2004, Randy Cohen, who writes The Ethicist column for the New York Times Magazine, discussed this exact point. He came to the smushy conclusion that “you may use but not overuse Wi-Fi hot spots you encounter.”

Is it Safe?

If you come across a random unencrypted wi-fi hotspot in an urban setting, it’s more likely that the person emitting the signal is a naïve rather than malicious. But logging on to a free hotspot in a place where tons of people are trawling for wi-fi can put you in trouble. Some scammers have set up free wi-fi in places like airports in an effort to steal data from suckers.

What is Wi-Fi squatter?
n. A person who lingers in a public location to use its Wi-Fi internet connection, or who uses such a connection without authorization.
—Wi-Fi squatting pp.



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