What's Yours Is Mine: Using a Wireless Network You Don't Own

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Earlier this month, a Dutch court ruled that breaking into an encrypted router to use somebody else's Wi-Fi connection is not a criminal offense. How do things work in the United States? Well, it's not exactly clear.

There are laws regarding the unauthorized access of a network in each of the 50 states, but a consensus has not yet been reached on how piggybacking, or the access of open wireless networks without the intent to do harm, should be treated in the courts. "The reason we lack a definitive answer," Ryan Singel wrote in the April 2011 issue of Wired, "is that authorities tend to prosecute open Wi-Fi usage only when they are piling charges onto real hacking crimes in order to snag a plea deal. As a result, authorized use, as it applies to the vaguely worded CFAA [Computer Fraud and Abuse Act], has never been laid out definitively in court."


What's Yours Is Mine: Using a Wireless Network You Don't Own