Piggybacking on a wireless internet connection illegal!

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fredethomas

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In an book review article in LEGAL AFFAIRS, June 2005, page 68 by Brendan I. Koerner were he discusses an article written by Patrick S. Ryan in the Virginia Journal of Law % Technology - It starts out with "Searching for wireless Internet connections is legal. Using then isn't."  In article he says - ...given that cable modem or DSL service contracts usually forbid subscribers from sharing bandwith with strangers, it's technically illegal.  And - Thats the case [illegal] whether the owner of the wireless network made a conscious decision to open his connection to all comers, or whether he doesn't realize that any passerby with a wireless card can leech off his bandwith.

A difference is made between actually making use of a connection or just browsing for a connection.  It is even ok to publish such findings but not to make use of the bandwith.

None of this is my opinion - My only opinions are about the thieves and liars in governments.
[edit]Changed subject.[/edit]

 

blueblood

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fredethomas said:
In an book review article in LEGAL AFFAIRS, June 2005, page 68 by Brendan I. Koerner were he discusses an article written by Patrick S. Ryan in the Virginia Journal of Law % Technology - It starts out with "Searching for wireless Internet connections is legal. Using then isn't."? In article he says - ...given that cable modem or DSL service contracts usually forbid subscribers from sharing bandwith with strangers, it's technically illegal.? And - Thats the case [illegal] whether the owner of the wireless network made a conscious decision to open his connection to all comers, or whether he doesn't realize that any passerby with a wireless card can leech off his bandwith.

A difference is made between actually making use of a connection or just browsing for a connection.? It is even ok to publish such findings but not to make use of the bandwith.

None of this is my opinion - My only opinions are about the thieves and liars in governments.

I'd like to have had them site a specific example/s of such a TOS. I have read those that I have used such as Earthlink and never read any such statement. They do have a statement relating to amount of bandwidth being used and a piggyback could theoretically cause a violation of the usage limits. However, practically they are never reached except in the case of services like Direcway. A more interesting one in Earthlink's TOS is a statement one can not use their service for anything but data, i.e. no voice, and they set out a stiff per minute feeif one is caught doing so. However, I have never heard of it being enforced.
 

John From Detroit

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And regarding Earthlink's restroiction on voice... You could argue that ANY thing sent over an IP link is data. If that Data intergrates into a representation of voice it does not matter, it was still DATA when it hit the wire


By the way, SBC has a somewhat different restriction on their DSL service....

If you are using their combined router/modem they have a limit of 255 simultous users (The limit of the router portion)

If you are using your own "home network" and modem like I am.... Square that

However bandwith is limited to about 1 meg-a-bit download speed (again my connection) bit slower where I work

Note in all cases these are hardware limits, not service limits
 

rhmahoney

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By that asinine standard it would be illegal to walk down the street at night using the porch-light of a private home!
 

Karl

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Love your analogy, Russ ;D Maybe we should slip a nickle into their mailbox? Wait - can't do that either; violates another law.

Is using another's already paid for time any different than having them sit at your computer? I have Direcway and rarely FAP out, OTOH, I have never gotten a refund for the bandwidth that I don't use. ::)
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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My cable carrier (Brighthouse Networks & Roadrunner Internet) distinguishes between residential use and business use. Sharing the internet connection via a home networking is permitted, whether wireless or not, but sharing with those who are not family or guests would be considered a business use and commercial rather than residential rates would apply.

In my opinion, uninvited sharing of a wireless network is theft of services.  The fact that the owner of the network did not take steps to protect it from unauthorized use is irrelevent.  If I  parked my car on the street outside my home, unlocked with the keys in it, and someone takes it, it is still theft even though I was arguably stupid to do so.  And even if I later get the car back without cost or damage, it was still theft.  The lack of any cost to me is not a factor.

The fact that wi-fi is a radio broadcast medium is also irrelevent. The precedent was established years ago with satellite TV services such as HBO - use of the broadcast signal without a paid subscription is theft and people have been prosecuted for it, even though HBO suffered no additional cost by the unauthorized use.  Pirated cell phone access is a similar situation.

I guess I'm in the minority with this view, though.
 

DougJ

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For what it's worth, John Dvorak takes up this topic this week at:

                        http://ct.enews.pcmag.com/rd/cts?d=184-1971-1-53-58912-223661-0-0-0-1

Ciao,

Doug
 

Karl

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Gary,

Good point about the uninvited use.
The precedent was established years ago with satellite TV services such as HBO - use of the broadcast signal without a paid subscription is theft and people have been prosecuted for it, even though HBO suffered no additional cost by the unauthorized use.
  No argument there, but that begs the question: If I give out a 'secret' access code (not broadcasting an open port) to fellow RV'ers parked next to me to use my satellite connection, am I cheating Hughes? If so, how can truck stops and restaurants provide this service libre de la carga? (free of charge).

 

Ned

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The DirecWay service is self-limiting in that a given level of service only supports a maximum number of TCP connections.  I believe the consumer grade service is 30.  This won't support many simutaneous users.  There is also the FAP to limit the amount of data transferred.

The commercial offerings at truck stops, coffee stops, etc. are generally not free, and they would have a commercial grade service that permits multiple users and the greater demands this puts on the back end connection.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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No argument there, but that begs the question: If I give out a 'secret' access code (not broadcasting an open port) to fellow RV'ers parked next to me to use my satellite connection, am I cheating Hughes? If so, how can truck stops and restaurants provide this service libre de la carga? (free of charge).

Depends on your contract with Hughes, i.e. your particular Terms Of Service.  Generally speaking, giving your house guests temporary access would be an acceptable use, but the fact that your RV neighbors are really not house guests could complicate the issue, if it ever came to a debate.  It's about the same as allowing a neighbor in a stick house to tap into your internet access, whether by wi-fi or wire.  Most ISPs would not permit that under residential service, even though the neighbors are your friends.

Truck stops, restaurants, etc. would have business accounts for internet access rather than residential and the price & TOS will be different.  Many of them lease a service from what is essentially an ISP that supplies the wireless equipment and internet access via a leased T1 line or satellite connection and then either passes on the cost to the user or absorbs it as a customer service.  This is analogous to the difference between a "business" phone line and a residential one - the phone company charges a business far more for the same phone line than a private residence would pay.  If a business gets caught using a residential line to avoid the higher cost, the phone company will charge the higher fees retroactively and will sue if it is not paid in full.  There is ample precedent for their case, so its a sure win.
 

fredethomas

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Gary:  I have driven into towns an had my linksys show several wi-fy connections but I could not identify who they were or if they were business or not???  I cannot speak for the truthfulness of this article'review - it is a legal affairs magazine.  The article starts out saying - "If you've ever booted up your laptop, scanned the area for unsecured wireless networks, and hopped onto the Internet on someone else's dime, your a their."  It caught my eye.  There book - Ryan's "Virginia Journal of Law & Technology" -"War, Peace or Stalemate:Wargames Wardialing, Wardriving, and the Emerging Market for Hacker Ethics" gets more involved than something I want to study.  The whole thing appears to be a pro'con issue of how far piggybacking can go.

But your statements about business accounts being different than  private accounts has little bearing [that I can see] in actual "piggybacking" by someone like us who are apt to scan for a connection.

 

Karl

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Gary,

Yes, businesses should and do pay more for wired services, but they also get a conditioned line and a higher degree of customer support and priority service in case of problems. Same is true for sat. Internet - higher data rate and (supposedly) better service. The comparison between HBO and sharing a sat. connection is a bit more complicated because with the Internet I'm paying for a quantifiable resource subject to FAP as Ned noted, and should be allowed to use it myself or share it as I see fit. There are differences in your stick house analogy too. If I'm correct (and I have no direct knowledge of this) and you have cable Internet and are sharing with your neighbors, the combined bandwidth usage degrades performance of others on the same cable pair as yourself, and I don't believe the cable company can throttle back your usage as the sat. companies can. Please correct me if I'm wrong.  Stealing HBO requires either a direct connection into someone else's decoded signal, or a pirated decoder card in the receiving unit - both clear attempts to get something for nothing. Same with cell phones; that's a deliberate act to cheat the provider out of money or service or both; not a sharing of something that's already been paid for..   
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Cable and DSL connections can be "throttled" in the same way a satellite connection is - the server limits the amount of service it provides for a particular IP address.    Satellites and cable are essentially identical in that there is a finite bandwidth that is shared by all potential users in a geographic area. For that matter, DSL also shares a high speed connection as well - it's only the last 0-3 miles that is a private, point-to-point connection.

But I don't think any of that is really relevent.  What you paid for as a home or residential user is a service intended for your private use. The company priced that service based on an average profile for private users, with support etc. geared to handle that.  Converting your private service to a public one potentially changes the usage profile to something different than what the service was designed and priced for.  If one person does it, no big deal. If it becomes a permitted use and many people start doing it (how about neighborhood co-ops for wireless internet access?) then the business model is in jeopardy.

Also consider this:  unbeknownst to you, someone "wardriver" is sharing your internet connection via your home wi-fi.  As a typical non-techie user, you only realize that your web surfing has slowed down and it takes forever to send a picture of the kids birthday party to your Mom. What do you do? Call your ISP and complain!  So there indeed is  a cost, both to you and to the ISP.
 

Karl

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Gary,

Thanks for the info on throttling back on cable. As I said, I didn't really know. You also make a good point about 'average' usage entering into the price determination, but I have to disagree with this:

Also consider this:  unbeknownst to you, someone "wardriver" is sharing your internet connection via your home wi-fi.  As a typical non-techie user, you only realize that your web surfing has slowed down and it takes forever to send a picture of the kids birthday party to your Mom.
.

Just as a non-techie car driver doesn't leave the keys to his/her auto in the ignition, anyone with enough computer savvy to be using wi-fi wouldn't (or shouldn't) leave their Internet connection open to the public either. Same goes for making sure firewalls, anti-virus software, pop-up blockers and spam filters are installed and kept up to date. We need to be educated and proactive in theses matters and can't rely on a third party to do it for us.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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We need to be educated and proactive in theses matters and can't rely on a third party to do it for us.

What Should Be is not what Is, Karl.  There are all sorts of things that people should know better about, yet are an every day occurrence in the real world.  That's why hemorrhoid creamss have a warning not to ingest and steam irons warn users not to iron clothing on their bodies.  Most ISP's now have virus scanning on their mail servers because far too many computer users never protected their own systems in even the most rudimentary ways.

And there may be practical reasons for leaving a network open. For example, the campground where we work this summer offers free wi-fi to their guests.  Rather than having to give out a WEP key to dozens of people daily, the system is left open, but that doesn't mean the campground is willing to provide internet access for everybody who drives through Rockport, ME.  Abuse by outsiders would degrade service to the campground's guests and defeat the purpose of providing the amenity to begin with. And obviously the cost of the service is recovered through campsite rental.  The campground does not wish to have non-guests using the wi-fi anymore than they wish to have non-guests use the swimming pool or dump station.
 

Karl

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LOL about the hemorrhoid cream; also how about "Keep under refrigeration? ;D

We're on the same wavelength, but talking about apples and oranges. I'm not referring to campgrounds and other commercial users, but primarily the RV'er who has an  access point and occasionally wants to let a select few on -  like at Quartzsite. For us, giving out a WEP key is no big deal.
 
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