Man Arrested for Squatting Wi-Fi
A Florida man was recently arrested for using a wireless network that wasn't his. Apparently he was sitting in his Chevy Blazer in a residential neighborhood poking around nearby wireless networks. None of us has ever done that right? Sure. Remember the last time you visited Grandma's house and were just dying to get on the Internet? What's the harm of "borrowing" a little Internet access from her more tech-savvy neighbors? Well, this lawsuit may make all of us think twice next time.
Legal experts say there's no clear precedent in the law stating whether it is illegal to use another person's Wi-Fi network. "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." (CNET article, "Wi-Fi mooching and the law")
Prosecutors think whether you get arrested for "borrowing" Wi-Fi access will depend on the specific situation. In other words, if you sat outside a company's building, accessed their Wi-Fi network, and poked around company files, that would probably get you busted. But, if you accessed a neighbor's wireless network while at Grandma's house and surfed the Internet for awhile, that isn't likely to get you thrown in the local slammer.