Stealing is (almost) always wrong

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment complex near a Houston landmark, surrounded by hundreds of med students and international families. There were a dozen WiFi networks around me, several of which were unsecured. I had my own service, though, and kept my network locked until the fateful day I had to unplug a lot of things. Apparently I unsecured my network somehow without realizing it during my technology shuffle. Within a few weeks, I noticed my internet lagging. It took much longer to do things than before. Sometimes a screen would come up on my computer warning about heavy traffic on my line, but I dumbly ignored it for a few weeks.

I finally checked my security settings. I could actually see the names of the computers logged into my network through one app I used. I could see their web traffic. I have no doubt that if I were a better techie, I could have sussed out some identities and maybe even seen sensitive information, possibly even hacking into their computers.

I was livid. These trolls logged into my network without my permission and ruined the quality of service I was PAYING for.

Someone on Facebook recently admitted they were canceling their Internet in favor of cable and hoping a neighbor had unsecured Internet. This really upset me. I don’t think this person would sneak over and tap into their neighbor’s cable service to get free cable, so why would they hope they could do the same for Internet? They bragged on Friday that they did find an unsecure network to use. And the responses were mixed: some think it’s OK, some think it’s bad, no one else was as angry as me. When did it become OK to use someone else’s stuff without permission.

Everyone on the planet with a laptop or cell phone has probably searched for an unsecure network for use on the fly. Five minutes of checking e-mail is one thing, continually relying on your neighbor to unknowingly pay for a service you intend to use is blatantly unfair. I did some research online and found reference to some state laws and one federal law that was iffy (it said using a network without permission is illegal, but was targeted towards hacking). The newest article I could find was dated 2007. Mind you, I did find several mentions of how dangerous it is: how some unsecure networks are traps for hackers, how others can view your private data, etc.

I’d like to hear other opinions on the matter. I don’t assume I’m always right, this just seems so cut-and-dried to me, though. If you know you need a service and you intend to use it regularly, it’s only fair to pay for it. Otherwise, go to the library and use the Internet your taxes pay for. I totally think Internet has gotten important enough that maybe it should be a government-supported utility like water, but it’s not yet. So play by the rules!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tee-Squared
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 10:05:10

    I wholeheartedly agree with you! The Hubbster and I pay “x” number of dollars for internet service per month, and I don’t think that it’s ok for someone to piggyback on our service for free. It’s absolutely WRONG.


  2. Shelley
    May 06, 2009 @ 11:15:34

    I agree! I think it’s okay if you’re driving around and need to pop on the internet to look something up, but to steal someones internet everyday is wrong.


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