Can people “steal” wifi? A man in Illinois has been fined $250 USD and given a one year suspended sentence for sitting in his car at 2 AM and accessing an open Wifi network belonging to a charity.
This poses several interesting legal questions . Many legal systems now have criminal offences to deal with hacking, generally construed as some form of “unauthorised access” to a computer network (see the UK’s Computer Misuse Act). Is accessing an open network the same as unauthorised access? In crowded residential areas you can view several networks, often some of them are open. What if I access someone’s by mistake? I have heard stories of people who did this. Can there be an offence then?