Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Wi-Fi mooching and the law

Filed under
Legal

A man sitting in a Chevy Blazer in a residential neighborhood reportedly was poking around nearby wireless networks in violation of computer crime laws, according to local police.

This appears to be the first arrest in which the sole offense was allegedly accessing a wireless network without prior authorization, and it's already being viewed as a probable test case. CNET News.com interviewed legal scholars to ask what rules apply to Wi-Fi (also called 802.1x) hot spots.

Is it legal to use someone's Wi-Fi connection to browse the Web if they haven't put a password on it?
Nobody really knows. "It's a totally open question in the law," says Neal Katyal, a professor of criminal law at Georgetown University. "There are arguments on both sides."

That doesn't make much sense. Is there a specific law that regulates Wi-Fi access?
Sort of. The primary law is the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

You can read it for yourself, but the important part (check out paragraph (a)(2)) covers anyone who "intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access." Nobody knows exactly what that means in terms of wireless connections. The law was written in 1986 to punish computer hacking--and nobody contemplated 802.1x wireless links back then.

What do prosecutors think?

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

Watch the Old and Amazing Ubuntu TV in Action - Video

Ubuntu TV was one of the early attempts from Canonical to branch out on other platforms, and it showed great promise, but it didn't get anywhere. The project is currently shelved, but it's interesting to see that Canonical was thinking about convergence long before they started to publicize it. Read more

Debian 8.1 Jessie Is Being Released Next Weekend

Debian 8.1 is planned for release on next Saturday. Debian developers are aiming to have Debian 8.1, the first point release to "Jessie", out on 6 June. Adam Barratt confirmed the imminent Debian 8.1 plans via this mailing list post from Sunday. Meanwhile, Debian 9.0 "Stretch" remains under development as the next major version of the operating system. Read more

Can Open-Source 3D Printing Make Custom Prostheses Affordable?

One exciting thing about 3D-printed prostheses is that the designs are all freely available open source and constantly evolving. Holmes-Siedle is particularly interested in tensioning, and the fishing wire that acts as tendons in the prosthetic hands. He made some changes to the basic design of Joe’s hand and within minutes of sharing his new designs online, other volunteers around the world were printing, testing and giving feedback on the adjustment. He’s now working on a new revision based on what he’s learned. Read more

Using Raspberry Pi to get teens involved in open source

At the end of last month, I had the unique opportunity to participate with a few of my work colleagues on the US2020 RTP STEM EXPO. About 500 students from North Carolina interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) showed up to the event. My colleagues and I gathered around a couple of tables and chatted with students, teachers, administrators, and parents about open source, open hardware, and programming. Read more