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Author Topic: Wireless internet  (Read 2580 times) Average Rating: 0
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zebu
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« on: October 09, 2005, 12:38:36 AM »

Today I got a new laptop, which has wireless internet capabilities.  I keep getting these little messages on my screen saying that the computer has connected to a wireless network, and so I decided to see if the internet would work, which it does(and I am using it right now!).  What I'm wondering is, is what I am doing illegal? I am not paying for this internet access at all, and I really doubt that the connections my computer just finds are public as I live in a solidly residential neighborhood.  So basically, I think my computer is using other people's internet access.  Is this illegal?  Is there anyway to know if the networks it is finding are public or private?
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Silouan
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2005, 03:41:36 AM »

If you are in the general vicinity of the university here you can pick up the wireless internet and that is free and legal.  But yes it is technically illegal to pick up someone's private home network (without their permission) and use it.  But you will almost surely never get caught or prosecuted for such a thing - but you will slow down their data transfer rate and if their ISP is set up where they are only allowed to transfer so much a month you will eat away at that.

If you are on good terms with your neighbors, the nice thing to do would be to go tell them that their network is easy to pick up and off to show them how to encrypt it, password protect it etc.   If they do any sort of financial stuff online they are very vulnerable to identity theft or a stolen credit card. 
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donkeyhotay
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2005, 02:31:46 PM »

You can easily answer your own question by asking yourself if it would be legal to hook up to your neighbor's cable, phone line, or satellite dish.  That is, in effect, what you are doing.

All legalities aside, it is certainly immoral to attach yourself to your neighbor's network without their permission (even if they are complete morons who hook up their wireless router without protecting it).

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TomS
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2005, 02:50:15 PM »

You can easily answer your own question by asking yourself if it would be legal to hook up to your neighbor's cable, phone line, or satellite dish.ÂÂ  That is, in effect, what you are doing.

I disagree. That would entail an actual physical hookup - meaning trespassing onto their property to do so.

« Last Edit: October 09, 2005, 02:51:18 PM by TomS » Logged
donkeyhotay
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2005, 05:12:34 PM »

Quote
I disagree. That would entail an actual physical hookup - meaning trespassing onto their property to do so.

Trespassing has nothing to do with it.  Using a service you didn't pay for is the issue.

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zebu
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2005, 05:45:48 PM »

Well, you all pretty much told me what I suspected, that it is illegal and wrong to use someone else's private internet connection.  Though, there is one connection that my computer keeps connecting to that is ALWAYS on and is called "linksys", which is of course the name of a wireless internet provider...so I think that one is public, coming from the Starbucks which is not too far from here....
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2005, 06:22:52 PM »

That may not necessarilly be so.  I believe that one my family bought a wireless router, "linksys" was the default name of the network.  It is possible that somebody may have set up a network without changing its name.
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Silouan
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2005, 06:46:32 PM »

Yes - the linksys is someone's wireless router that they simply plugged in and did absolutely no security on.  Starbucks usually have T-mobile for their wireless. 
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zebu
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2005, 07:35:24 PM »

Darn then! Ignorance was such bliss....Now I know that I am stealing someone's internet, lol.  And I should stop.
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TomS
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2005, 07:49:42 PM »

Darn then! Ignorance was such bliss....Now I know that I am stealing someone's internet, lol.ÂÂ  And I should stop.

You are STEALING nothing. They can continue to use it and it costs them no more..
« Last Edit: October 09, 2005, 07:50:36 PM by TomS » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2005, 09:13:51 PM »

It depends on how you are using it though.  Just casual internet use - i.e a few websites and email I would agree results in little to no noticable affects.  But if you download music or movies a lot you are going to slow down their connection speed and most ISPs do have a limited amount of data transfer per month (but in america is REALLY high, but I know people that have exceeded this through downloading tons of movies). 
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zebu
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2005, 10:16:41 PM »

Well, I don't download music or movies from the internet.  Actually, I do download music, but not on my laptop, only on our old computer, which has its own internet connection which we pay for.

Oh, and no, I am not on such good terms with my neighbors.  I actually don't really know them that well, and they are all alcoholics/drug addicts who light things on fire and walk through their yards naked in the middle of the night...I live in a very *interesting* neighborhood...
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« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2005, 10:28:18 AM »

If you're using a PC, you should also make sure you have your firewall up, but if you've installed Service Pack 2 and all upgrades, you should be fine.  If not, buy a Mac.  Smiley

As far as using a neighbor's wireless, I was using Linksys as well up until last week, when it became password encrypted.  Eventually they learn...
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donkeyhotay
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« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2005, 11:11:37 AM »

You are STEALING nothing. They can continue to use it and it costs them no more..

Wrong.  You are stealing service.  Once again, it is the same as hooking up to your neighbor's cable or satellite dish.  Your neighbor may not notice a loss of service, but you are using a service for which you have not paid.

I would also like to point out the stupidity of hooking up to unknown networks.  It's like having unprotected sex.

So, to sum up:
1. It is illegal.
2. It is immoral.
3. It is stupid.

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« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2005, 06:42:59 PM »

Here is a column from the NY Times Magazine.  I thought it might be appreciated.
-----

THE WAY WE LIVE NOW: 2-8-04: THE ETHICIST; Wi-Fi Fairness
By RANDY COHEN (NYT) 677 words
Published: February 8, 2004

I accidentally discovered that the wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) card in my laptop lets me access the Web in my apartment. Clearly a neighbor has set up an access point with a signal strong enough to reach my kitchen. I use the Internet at home only to check e-mail, which will not affect my neighbor's usage. Can I use his signal? Should I offer to pay part of his monthly charge? Siona Listokin, Berkeley, Calif.

If you can easily ID your neighbor and you regularly use his signal, you should ask his consent and offer to share the costs of this shared resource. But what about the more common situation, when you can't identify those whose wireless access points you encounter? ''If you're driving around town and someone's left a node open and you pop on and use it just to download some e-mail, feel free,'' advises Mike Godwin, senior technology counsel for Public Knowledge, a public interest group in Washington concerned with technology and intellectual property.

Godwin is persuasive. The person who opened up access to you is unlikely even to know, let alone mind, that you've used it. If he does object, there's easy recourse: nearly all wireless setups offer password protection. And while the failure to lock a door may indicate carelessness, not consent, in this case it does suggest indifference. Godwin does warn of the tragedy of the commons, however, which here means you have an obligation not to use too much bandwidth -- by downloading massive music files, for example, which would inconvenience other users.

But do you cheat the service provider, if not an individual consumer? Is there a free-rider problem? Time Warner Cable says there is, and it has taken action against those who have touted the availability of an open Wi-Fi node on computer bulletin boards. The company argues, in effect, that while you may have a glass of water at a neighbor's, you may not run a pipe from his place to yours.

Property rights, as understood by Time Warner Cable, say, are worthy of consideration, but overemphasizing them may stifle the development of the public good that is universally available wireless Internet access. Consider the Interstate highway system or any public library: enormously useful institutions whose costs and benefits we all share. Cellphone service offers another approach, enabling anyone who pays a monthly fee to make a call from anyplace in the world (until he stumbles into a dead zone).

''This is a period of transition, and the natural reaction of some institutions is to clamp down,'' Godwin concludes. He's right. But that does not create a moral imperative to defer to those who do. Rather, you may use but not overuse Wi-Fi hot spots you encounter.
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