Stealing the Internet: How Using Someone Else’s Wi-Fi Password Has Repercussions
When searching for a network connection, curiosity nearly always wins as we scan the names our neighbors have given to their connections. Sometimes people get clever, with names like “FBI Surveillance Van #5,” “Go Go Gadget Internet,” or “Keep It On The Wi-Fi.” Most of the time you will see the networks are secured, but occasionally one stands out.
The bold declaration of unsecured Internet leaves many pondering about the morality of using someone else’s Internet connection. Is using another person’s Wi-Fi without his or her knowledge or consent considered theft?
The Hard Truth
Taking something that someone else paid for, without the owner’s knowledge or consent, is stealing. Internet theft is not immediately noticeable, like taking a physical item such as a bike from a homeowner’s front yard. But eventually, someone will catch on.
Unless your neighbors have an unnecessarily high bandwidth, greater than they use within their home, your connection will slow their Internet speed. Unsatisfactory bandwidth prompts a call to technical support, where they begin researching the problem.
The investigation is where your misdeed is apparent. Before saying they asked for it by not securing their connection, consider the bike again in the front yard. If it is not secured, are they asking for it to be stolen? The answer is no.
Depending on the nature of the Internet access, legal consequences range anywhere between a misdemeanor and a felony. Potentially, those using Wi-Fi violate multiple laws with the same behavior. Although you should be concerned about the potential legality and consequences to piggybacking Wi-Fi, there are additional serious potential repercussions. In addition to a criminal record, unauthorized usage of an Internet network poses the following hazards:
- Picking up malware or other viruses lurking within the system;
- Opening yourself up to identity theft;
- Potentially accessing a fake hotspot; or
- Subjecting yourself to persistent logins.
Get Legal Help
If you face theft charges because you allegedly used someone else’s Internet illegally, the consequences may be potentially life altering, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Hiring an experienced lawyer can make the difference between a small fine and years behind bars.
Contact a St. Charles, IL theft defense attorney to discuss your unique situation. Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC is available to take your case. We are one of the oldest law firms in the area that practice solely in criminal cases. Call us today to schedule your initial consultation at 630-232-1780.